This Is Why Dating Is So Hard After An Almost Relationship

God & Man

Almost relationships. I hate those words. Because at the end of the day all it is, is someone not choosing you. Someone watching as you invest your time and effort into them, refusing to reciprocate it. And rather than reciprocating it they take the bits and pieces of what they want from you to make themselves whole and choose when they want you in their life. As a result, it’s you that ends up broken and hurt.

While you fall harder for them, they watch, only they aren’t doing anything at all. But what makes almost relationships so painful is as someone strings you along, your feelings develop more deeply for this person that seems so close but also at arm’s length. Developing deeper feelings for someone you can’t have doesn’t make you crazy. There is actual science behind it.

Helen Fischer, American anthropologist, and human behavior researcher did a TEDTalk about the chemistry of falling in love.

The dopamine in your brain is what controls addiction, craving and wanting something or someone. As someone rejects you or leads you on, it only leads you to want that person more deeply than you did before. Then serotonin controls the rapid thoughts in your brain and the nonstop thinking about a person.

But there is also the reverse of that. If you ever wonder why this person continues to lead you on or mess with you, it’s because they aren’t just getting satisfaction out of it or being cruel, those same chemicals are being released in their brain too when you respond. Ever wonder why they suddenly crave your attention the second you pull away? They too are seeking something they aren’t getting any more.

But regardless of the science, I can throw at you and how much this might make sense. It does still hurt.

It hurts caring about someone who doesn’t feel the same way. It’s hurts being left wondering could this ever be something? The games hurt. The confusion hurts. The difference between real relationships and these almost ones we find ourselves in is there are blurry lines that make things confusing.

When a relationship ends between a couple there’s a start and end there. There’s a label that gets removed and you have that closure, with almost relationships everything is ambiguous and there aren’t some set of rules to follow when these rules are constantly changing based on someone’s sudden interest or lack of interest.

So you try and move on but it lingers and you’re left wondering.

And you could be with someone else who makes you laugh and smile but in the back of your mind, that person is always there because you don’t get closure to something that never started.

Everyone tries to justify it like your feelings aren’t valid because there wasn’t a label but don’t ever let someone make you question if what you feel for someone else is true or not.

I say with a lot of certainty, you probably loved this person more than some people loved their significant other. And that’s brave to do. To love someone fearlessly when they weren’t reciprocating it doesn’t make you foolish. They are the foolish ones for not seeing your value.

And you deserve someone who does. So as you embark on a new relationship and let someone new in, understand this person might always linger in your heart and in your life sometimes.

And there will be moments you compare that person to the one in front of you. There will be times when you think I don’t feel as deeply about this person as I did my almost relationship. And those deep feeling derive from trying harder than you had to. If you loved them as hard as you could just maybe they would reciprocate it. So you kept trying and didn’t give up. But love isn’t supposed to be that hard. And the truth is you’ll never love anyone in your life that deeply because you let them so close, you had to learn not to do that again.

But you do deserve someone who meets you halfway.

So when you start comparing these people, when you start missing an old love when you think you will never feel something as deeply for another person, you might be right but you aren’t supposed to fall that hard for someone who just watches. It’s okay to feel those things. Don’t feel guilty for it. Don’t feel guilty as your face turns red when this person texts you and your with someone else then you tell them it’s no one important.

Moving on from an almost relationship is a choice you have to make every day while they try and tempt you into falling back into an old routine. But as you were strong enough to love someone who didn’t love you back you are strong enough to get over them too.

Getting over someone is a process even if it’s someone we didn’t date.

Give this person a chance they deserve because in the short time you’ve engaged in this new relationship, they’re probably giving you more than the last person ever did. They are probably trying harder and you don’t have to and that feels unfamiliar. They are probably reciprocating all these things you feel even if it scares you.

After an almost relationship comes fears of letting anyone that close. Fear of getting hurt again. Fear of someone deceiving you. And there’s also that fear of finally letting go of someone you invested so much time and energy into.

And I know it hurts to move on.

The moment you begin to, I know they see it. They see you pull away, they see you texting them less and making less of an effort, they don’t see your name in their notifications as much, then they see someone else enter your life. Suddenly every Insta or snap story of yours, they’re looking at first just to see if he’s in it. Suddenly it’s them trying and it hurts you not to flinch when they do.

Suddenly they say those words you waited so long to hear, that they do care and they made a mistake and they are sorry. But if I can remind you of one thing, those are just words.

They had their chance and they didn’t do anything about it while you did everything you could to make it work.

Remember, you deserve more than someone who has to lose you to realize your worth.

Remember, sometimes it takes letting go of the person we want most to get the one we actually deserve. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Writer living in Hoboken, NJ with my 2 dogs.

Keep up with Kirsten on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and

More From Thought Catalog