Why you might still need to recover from a connection that wasn't a relationship

Heartbreak and healing are conversations usually reserved for those fresh out of an official relationship.

However, those ‘near but not quite’ relationships can be painful to end and need time to recover from too.

The repetition of talking and dating to no healthy avail, investing time and emotional labour to disappointment, can take its toll.

A Tweet from Lovehoney’s ambassador, Oloni, has got people sharing their stories.

Writing: ‘How many failed talking/dating stages you had this year? And which person had you the most f*cked up?!”, many went on to share multiple instances of this, experienced in just the first half of the year.

Her Tweet allowed people to hold space for the hurt these experiences cause, importantly validating that ‘talking/dating stages’ can be hard for people.

One person responded: ‘2 failed. One of them moved his EX back into his flat because she was “struggling” (allegedly) and he had the audacity to tell me I shouldn’t be mad because I wasn’t his gf and it was “none of my business”.’

Another said: ‘1. He disappeared after our date and got mad at me for being mad that he disappeared and making him “explain himself”. Apparently since we are not in a relationship I had no right to be mad… Weeks later, he got mad that he saw my tinder profile cos I said “no Gemini men”‘

Other people shared they’ve experienced this five times, sometimes with people they’d dated for months, and the sentiment of it being ‘hard out here’ was echoed.

Someone responded: ‘3 failed.. and 1 didn’t know what he wanted and still doesn’t know and expects me to wait around whilst he doesn’t know.’

The response to her post reveals this to be a common, yet isolating experience.

Dr Audrey Tang, a chartered psychologist and author, says there are many ways someone might respond in this situation – there is no manual for coping with any process of letting go or healing.

There can be a ‘trope that we “shouldn’t feel bad”, which gets applied in many circumstances’, she tells us.

‘Negative emotions are okay to feel – they simply inform us that something is wrong and we need to deal with it.’

There is no correct way to feel about a romantic connection ending, and the length of the connection doesn’t correlate to the importance of the emotion.

When moving on to the next person to date, Dr Aubrey says – referring to teaching of Dale Carnegie Training – the ‘impulse to have something now might result in us not recognising red flags in a relationship, because we so want to be in one.’

That also also ‘haziness’, which can mean we enter things unclear on what we want.

‘Whatever you do, don’t fall prey to your mind making you think you’re desperate.

‘That sense of anxiety and urgency can affect our judgment and decision making. An extra moment to pause and ask as you get back into the dating pool “Is this who I really want?” can save much longer in fretting or regret.’

Dr Audrey Tang’s tips to help you move on from someone you only dated

Affirmations: These can help you begin to think more positively of yourself. Rather than using angry ones such as ‘I don’t need them’, try empowering statements such as ‘I am a strong person and I will overcome all my challenge’ or ‘My love, my time and my energy are valuable and I offer them wisely.’

Detaching from the way you were treated: Remember, other people’s poor behaviour is often a greater reflection on them than you. Your part comes in how you choose to deal with it.

Reflecting logically: Dating and relationships are often the most “fun” at the start before you have to navigate life changes as the relationship deepens. If you are not having “fun” at the start, you might wish to ask yourself, is it really going to get any better?

Taking accountability: It may be worth asking yourself (without blame) if you seem to be drawn to situations where people are unclear – perhaps you are very quick to overlook potential red flags, perhaps you believe you can ‘change them’, or have a sense of familiarity around ‘drama’. Sometimes we need to work on how our previous experiences have affected us in terms of our behaviour in relationships. This is best done with professional support.

Another response might be to procrastinate on dating if multiple let downs are making you feel anxious or low.

It’s fine to take a break for a while to recoup – the dating scene will still be there when you’ve taken a moment to breathe.

But you could also be reluctant due to fear, which Dr Aubrey says is normal though unhelpful.

‘Procrastination is not about being lazy, but rather learning to manage our worries (some of which may not be obvious) if things go wrong again.’

Dr Audrey says ‘most important of all – don’t give yourself a “wait problem”.

‘The “wait problem” is when you put off your happiness until an external goal is fulfilled, such as: I’ll be happy when I find the love of my life.

‘A healthy relationship is a bonus to you living your life in the way you want to – so explore what makes you feel good.’

As one person said in the thread: ‘1 but I’m extremely proud of me for setting boundaries and stating expectations cause I ended up getting what I want from somebody else’.

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