We all claim to hate almost-relationships.
The person who disappeared. The guy or girl who ghosted us. The person we wanted it to work with but just couldn’t seem to pin down. We feel ridiculous mourning these relationships because they never really came to fruition. We never truly committed, never met their families, never called him or her our significant other aloud in real time. But their endings haunt us nonetheless – we grow obsessed with what didn’t work, but could have. The things that almost happened and the people we almost loved.
As much as we ache moving on from these relationships, they offer a strange sort of thrill. To fall in love with somebody but never actually date him or her is invigorating. It’s captivating. It’s that all-seductive pull of the almost, the never-quite, the getting this-close but never the whole way there. It’s emotional edging. And it’s a feeling we all get addicted to.
The only thing more exciting than falling in love with somebody is falling in absolute like with them. Love is complex. Love is chaos. Love is arguments and compromises and staying up until 3am trying to figure out whether or not we can make this work. There’s nothing glamorous about love, but like is whatever you want it to be. Like is simple. It’s impulsive. It’s magnified by imagination and left untarnished by the truth. Like is whatever we want it to be, which is why the best part of any relationship is always the beginning.
In the beginning, there is nothing to hate about each other. There are no unhappy compromises, no hidden secrets, no pet peeves that leave us silently reeling while our partner grinds their teeth all through the night. In the beginning there is only the squeakiest, shiniest versions of ourselves. Only whomever we want the other person to see. And the truth is, we love that deception. We love being in love with the person we want someone to be.
The truth about almost relationships is that as much as we agonize over their endings, they’re some of the best endings we get. We don’t slowly grow to hate each others taste in music or the way he or she has no backbone. We never have to argue about one of us working too much or the other one having no ambition. We don’t see the worst parts of each other because right before the fantasy faded, somebody ducked from the scene. And as much as we hated them for it, it was in some ways exactly what we wanted.
Some part of us is always going to remain addicted to the ‘almost’ in every situation. The incredible date we almost went on. The person we almost fell in love with. The sex we almost had with the person we almost seduced. We love what almost happened because in our minds, it gets to stay exactly how we imagined it to be.
And perhaps we need that. Perhaps some twisted part of our psyche doesn’t want the best things we can imagine to come true – because if that were the case, we’d have to deal with all their unglamorous realities. We’d have to realize that nothing will ever be half as incredible as we can imagine it. That there is no perfect person, no perfect relationship, no perfect situation that we’re someday going to stumble upon and live happily ever after inside of.
We love every almost relationship we have because they give us a taste of what we’d like to think could last forever. It’s what we hang onto when our real relationships end, when reality bites us too hard, when our compromises and heartbreaks become too much to bear in real time.
We hold onto the allure of that almost at the times that we need it the most.
Because every almost suggests another maybe, out there somewhere. And those maybes are what keep us going.