1. You should pay attention to who people say they are, what they do, and what they say they want. That Maya Angelou counsel that, “When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them,” applies to many situations, but especially potential romantic relationships.
2. DTR or Define The Relationship talks are important, no matter how cool, fun, easy-going, not needy, etc. you may want to seem. As awkward as this talk might be, it might be exactly what you need to save a lot of time and energy on someone who may just be interested in, “hanging out.”
3. Being clear about your feelings is just as important as having them to begin with. You really can’t blame someone else for your almost-relationship if they never knew you wanted to be in a relationship in the first place. People aren’t mind-readers.
4. Someone can be perfect for you in theory, the two of you can be compatible in theory; your relationship can make sense, in theory. But in practice it might be a whole different story.
5. Don’t get lost in your infatuation with someone at the cost of not seeing the way they treat you for what it is. Notwithstanding that some people can manipulate you into thinking that they want to be with you, but most times it might just be you trying to convince yourself of something that isn’t real.
6. If it feels like pulling teeth to begin with, it’s not going to get any easier. It’s easy to convince yourself that as soon as you reach a particular “place” in a relationship, then things will start flowing better. But honestly it’s not that every relationship needs to start out like a fairy tale, it just shouldn’t feel like heavy labour on your heart from the start.
7. Timing is very important in everything in life. And you can talk about it, or the stars aligning, or being busy, or being in different places in your life till it hurts. But in the end it seems more likely that if you and someone want to be together, you will both do your damn best to make it happen.
8. A lot of people are lonely, and loneliness can make room for misery, and we all know misery loves company. Do not mistake someone wanting you to keep from loneliness, for wanting you in an honest and meaningful way. And don’t allow yourself to become so lonely that any façade of a relationship will do.
9. It can be even more tempting to dwell on an almost-relationship than on a breakup of a conventional relationship. Probably because an almost-relationship has so much possibility, so much hope. But avoid dwelling over anything for too long.
10. Still, don’t invalidate your feelings because things didn’t work out. Don’t listen to people who don’t understand why you’re sad or hurt or disappointed. Short-lived romantic failures are not pain-free just because they are short.
11. Most likely, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not that you were too into the other person or texted them too much or expressed your feelings too early. Most times they and you just did not pan out as maybe you or even they thought you would. Don’t go beating yourself up about things you can’t control.
12. Closure is nice when we get it, but chances are you probably won’t in your almost-relationship. So I have to quote Pac here, “You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened…or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on.”
13. Nobody is owed reciprocal affection. I know that’s a tough and bitter pill to swallow but such is life. Think of all the people’s affections you haven’t returned. Being on the receiving end of unrequited love is not fun, but holding people ransom to your emotions is not fair either.
14. You might need just as much physical, mental, and emotional separation from the other person as you would had you been in a relationship. Maybe this is easy depending on your situation, maybe it’s not. Either way, in order to fully get over anything or anyone, you need the time and space to be able to heal.
15. Your almost-relationship can be the thing that gives you growth, teaches you a lesson about love, or life, or something in between. It’s not a badge of shame or a reason to feel embarrassed. Remember that every time you have the courage to put your heart on the line, and offer it to someone, you are brave. Don’t stop being brave.