It happens unexpectedly sometimes. One day you’re going about your normal routine when a new person enters your life. A few infrequent encounters and random conversations lead to an exchange of numbers and constant texting. Next thing you know you’re on your first date, really getting to know each other, and discovering how remarkably compatible you are. The conversations flow easily, the teasing is playful, and nothing feels forced. Long walks, ice cream, and card games, the simplest things become so much more enjoyable in their company. But time isn’t always on your side. Your schedules and lives don’t line up, and all too quickly the relationship is over before it really started.
At least there are a few things to be learned from these painfully short-lived experiences.
1. Projecting a “better” version of yourself is difficult.
In the beginning stages of a new relationship people always want to make a good impression. They edit their personality to show a “better” version of themselves. The main problem I have with this is that I don’t have a “better” version of myself. I am just me. I don’t know how to be anyone else. I have my flaws, and while I try to hold back the sarcasm until I gage how much a person can take, these flaws usually still show through. It’s also challenging to edit your personality because for all you know, the traits you tone down could be the ones they would admire. I have tried to project a “better” version of myself, but it only leads to feeling anxious about what will happen when you let your true personality show through. And you shouldn’t have to feel anxious about being yourself.
2. You can’t break through walls they don’t want you to.
The walls people build to protect themselves is another infamous tactic when entering new relationships. It’s natural to be guarded because no one wants to get hurt. That being said, it’s a challenge to open up to someone who isn’t fully opening up to you. I could tell you everything about myself, but how is that going to form a connection if you can’t return the favor? It takes time to break through another person’s walls, and also to let your own guard down. This becomes even more difficult when you walk into a relationship knowing your time together is limited. Is it worth letting them in if it’s just for a short while? Is it worth getting to know them when you can already see goodbye on the horizon? If one person answers no to either question, it’s over. You can’t form relationships around walls.
3. One wrong move, and you’re out.
Some people have a mental checklist of what they look for in someone to start a relationship with. A challenging part of building a relationship with someone new is that they are exactly that, new. You don’t know their likes or dislikes, what makes them happy or what drives them crazy. You could be having a conversation with them, and without thinking twice about it, tell them something that is completely opposite to their goals/values/beliefs. Maybe in a well-formed relationship this would be an agree-to-disagree moment, but in the beginning stages, something unimportant to you could be a deal breaker for the other person. Sometimes it just takes one strike to be out.
4. Other people view you differently than you view yourself.
Someone new in your life may see things in you that you don’t see in yourself. It doesn’t matter what it is, only that they saw it and told you, and made you look at yourself a little closer. This has both positives and negatives. Whether they see something good or not so good in you is entirely up to their perspective. For instance, I am well aware that I don’t have the most positive attitude in the world. However, I did think I was getting better at being less negative, until it was pointed out that I complain, a lot. Friends and family grow accustomed to your personality, but when someone new is in your life, there is a fresh set of eyes on you. What your friends and family overlook, they might not.
5. Even if it’s short-lived, walking away hurts.
The length of the relationship may correlate to the length of the hurt, but there is some hurting even when the relationship ends before it really starts. Since there wasn’t as much time to get really close to the person, most of this hurt arises from the thoughts of what could’ve been and what went wrong. I lack the ability to remain emotionally detached from people. Even when I know something will be short-lived, if I feel comfortable with the person I will relax and be completely myself. In the walking away from a short-lived relationship, what hurts is knowing that you tried to put time and effort into something that wasn’t given a proper chance. What hurts is thinking that maybe, if there were more time, things would have been different. What hurts is knowing that it didn’t end badly, so why should it have even ended? What hurts is that no matter how long the person was in your life, they were a part of it, and now they’re not.