When The What-Ifs Haunt You The Most In Almost Relationships


I was naive maybe foolish for believing in you as much as I did. When people ask about you, I don’t know how to describe it really.

We didn’t date. But we weren’t friends. I knew that much to be true. I knew friends didn’t look at each other the way we did. I knew friends didn’t talk to each other the way we did. Friends didn’t love each other as hard and with as much chaos as we did. Friends didn’t know me to the core of who I was. Something like that took time. Something like that took effort. Something like that took conversations late at night as our deepest secrets were shared only between us.

There is something about the person who knew you before you figured out who you were yourself. There is something about someone who was such an important character in your past they can’t help but influence the future. There is something about falling in love with someone before you even knew what the words really meant but you knew enough that this person in this moment means more to mean than anyone ever will. There is something about the people who grew with us. The ones who made us who we are. So much so if you dissected parts of yourself and were left with skin and bones you’d see bits and pieces of certain people there.

He was one of those people.

But we never dated. We never were a couple.

In fact, when I bring up his name most people who knew me back then didn’t know our history.

It was a history I didn’t know would become one because what felt like days that turned into weeks, turned into months then years. And there we were at a standstill but going no where. Standing side by side but never taking a step forward.

They ask how long it went on and sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit I let someone lead me on that long. But the thing about almost relationships is there isn’t logic to it. There’s just these really intense feelings things constantly changing. But you almost become addicted to the adrenaline rush.

If you asked me years ago would we end up together? I know there were times I truly believed it. I know there were times where I wanted this narrative to play out in the favor I ignored everyone and everything. Even him sometimes. Because he warned me too. “You’re going to get hurt.”

But the physical relationship didn’t stop there. The emotional relationship continued. And with every day it was like adding fuel to a fire that was only causing self-destruction. But I didn’t want to walk away from it. When you invest as much time and emotion and energy into someone you want to be right about them. You want it to work out for you.

So you love as hard as you possibly can as if that would have changed things.

But almost relationships aren’t real relationships. They are a figment of what you want it to be. And while you fall in love with the person in front of you, you also fall in love with a fantasy you created in your mind.

The what ifs that seem like they could be a reality if only.

If only they chose you.

If only they chose you, you’d have a plus one to that wedding, you wanted only to go with them.

If only they chose you, you’d have an extra seat so someone who understands, could endure a family holiday with you.

If only they chose you, you’d have Friday night dates instead of just staring at your phone hoping they’d answer.

If only they chose you, you wouldn’t be at the bar drinking to forget someone who gave you so much to remember.

It’s the what ifs that haunt you most.

What if you were different?

What if you were prettier?

What if you were more successful?

What if you took that chance when you had it?

What if one day they woke up and realized you’ve always been it.

The what ifs you learned to stop believing.

The songs you hear on the radio, you stop listening to because the melody replays the past you wish you could forget.

The roads you drive down you feel like you’ll see their ghost just waiting for you.

Waiting for you to pick where you left off. Waiting to continue this story that part of you has let go of but part of you is still in love with.

And you go back to places that used to be yours hoping maybe they are there too.

But then you have to remind yourself they moved on.

And that hurts like hell because here you are dancing with the ghost of their memory loving someone who isn’t even there. Loving someone you know didn’t deserve you.

Loving someone who hurt you more than anyone could have.

You still look for their ghost in the darkness. You still seek parts of them in others.

The past replays in your mind because you don’t want to forget it.

The past replays in your mind because they are still with you even when you don’t want them to be.

You remember that final goodbye that you didn’t believe would be the end because how many times did you guys find your way back to each other?

But that final moment was different.

That final moment was the end of an era and the start of you rereading a book you knew the ending to but didn’t want to believe would become reality.

You reread the past as if doing so would change the future and just when you get to that heart breaking ending, you decide you close the book, not finish the last page but start again.

Because the words “I met someone” are just a reminder that it was never going to be you.

The words “it’s over” is a reminder that it never actually began.

And trying to explain heartbreak to anyone when it wasn’t really a relationship, to begin with makes you look and feel like a fool.

So instead you stay silent, pretending she doesn’t exist. Pretending someone else isn’t getting the ending you so desperately wanted. Knowing the life you imagined with this person is going to be her reality.

And while she’s dancing with him you’re dancing with his ghost. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Writer living in Hoboken, NJ with my 2 dogs.

Keep up with Kirsten on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and kirstencorley.com

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