1. You don’t get the same kind of closure.
The end of any relationship isn’t easy. It’s a weird thing — that someone can be part of your life…and then they just…aren’t. But when you’ve had an established relationship with a very concrete beginning, you get to close out that chapter feeling a bit more complete. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or take time to heal from, but at least you have a definitive end to mourn. Almost relationships aren’t like that. They just float away, still coated in layers of what-ifs — a very damaging and upsetting thought process.
2. “It’s not like you guys were ever together.”
One of the times I’ve been most heartbroken was with this off-again-on-again friendship/non “relationship” that I couldn’t ever truly categorize. It’s a hard thing to try to explain, that you could indeed love someone you aren’t even official with. Or that when things fall apart, it hurts just as badly. Maybe even more. I wasn’t really allowed to grieve in the way I was with other endings. I found myself trying to justify it. But it always came back to the same sentence: “We weren’t really together.” But that didn’t make it any less real.
3. They are never an ex.
What do you even call them? Oh, that person I was talking to and we had a thing, but then we stopped talking and stopped having a thing? Sure, that just slides off the tongue with such ease!
4. Regret sticks around a whole lot longer than failure.
Failing is a natural and important part of the human experience. Every relationship that doesn’t work out, as shitty as it might be in the moment, is an important part of life. Learning how to try and put your full heart and faith into something and then having it totally crash is something everyone needs to experience. It sucks. It totally sucks, I’m not going to sugar-coat it with some “blessing in disguise” fluffiness, but it does teach you how to keep going when things prove disappointing. But almost relationships don’t get that kind of palpable failure. Instead, it ends up being a lot of regret, questioning, and unsaid things.
5. You compare yourself to their future significant others.
YES – we all know comparing ourselves to anyone isn’t a good idea. Or healthy. Or whatever. But let’s cut the crap – we’re all going to do it from time to time. Jealousy, while a sucky feeling, is very real and very human. When someone you once loved (or even just liked a whole lot) enters a new romantic relationship, you’re going to see how he/she stacks up against you. Even if it’s irrational. Even if it’s stupid and we all KNOW we shouldn’t think that way, sorry babe, we’re just going to sometimes. And when this happens with that person you had an almost relationship with, oh boy, it’s the worst. What does this new person have that you don’t? Why her? Why him? They get the full relationship while you only got a sliver. A taste of the main course. It’s important in these moments to remember it’s not a reflection of you, even though it feels that way.