One year ago we had new staff in my previous work, we became friends, but eventually became strangers when I started to avoid him; because he’s making romantic moves on me. It’s not that I don’t want him to pursue me but I avoided him simply because I wanted to test how much he likes me, and besides all he did was making a confusing move, sometimes he acts like he’s in love with me and sometimes not. Here’s the thing, he did not tell directly that he likes me but I can feel it or yes, maybe I just assumed everything that he said and did to me. Either way, I can still feel the pain of regret that I was not able to show that I like him and that’s when I realized that maybe he’s the one for me but got away because I’m playing hard to get.
So, that’s when I researched about why we think that someone who used to be close to us is the one that got away and here’s what I learned.
First, according to research about saying goodbye by Bettina Schworer and her colleagues “people tend to ruminate more about regretted inactions than regretted actions in daily life”. Because no matter how much pessimistic you are, it’s natural for humans to become hopeful on things that they want, so when we failed to work on that thing, we ask a question like “What if?” and when imagining the positive outcome, we feel the pain of regret of not having it.
That’s when we go to the second point, we humans have a tendency of having hindsight bias also known as “knew it all along”, we tend to predict things and believe on it, we thought we already see the big picture when it’s actually not, and that is actually what I’m feeling, I made myself believe that he likes me and so it’s making me sad because it makes me think that if only back then, I was able to tell him how I feel we could be a great couple. However, that could also not be possible as we go to the third point, according to Dr. Jess O’Reilly, a sexologist, we tend to idealize the unknown, when we meet someone and we fell in love to the certain aspect of them we think that is enough but actually, it’s not. Like, in my case, my sister told me that I’m not in love to my old colleague I just thought that I’m in love with him because of the romantic moves that he showed but in reality I don’t know him at all and perhaps once I truly know who he is maybe my fondness of him will fade.
Nonetheless, we humans like to recall happy memories according to clinical psychologist Jodi J. De Luca, so when things get rough I just think of him but then after that it makes me feel sad again because my last point, it says that, we humans, have this tendency to see the past more positively than the present which is known as Rosy retrospection and so by feeling that way, we have this urge to fix what went wrong in the past so we can have more of that happy feeling that we had in the past.
So now, that we learned why we’re feeling “What could have been?” with someone, what can we do then to lessen the regret?
First, we have to see it as a learning experience. No one does it perfectly the first time, so now that we realized our mistakes, we have to make sure that it will not be the same again the second time we will experience it.
Second, we have to accept that the “What if?” is just a fantasy that we made in our head and may not be true. You can write pros and cons if things work out with that person, that way you can see if it’s realistic or not.
Third, avoid the things that will remind you of that person like stop following him on social media.
Fourth, make yourself busy, remember all the things you wanted to do and you wanted to learn. Make yourself better while waiting for the one.
Fifth, if you really think that the person you are missing is actually the love of your life, then go and tell him or her right now, remember what the research of Schworer and colleagues said: “people tend to ruminate more about regretted inactions than regretted actions in daily life”. So go! Even if, it will not turn out the way you want it, at least you’re able to tell to that person you like him and you’ll be surprised how much you have helped him boost his self-esteem and you being free from the pain of regret, so what are you waiting for? Go!
Whitbourne, Susan Krauss (2019, April 2). When it’s time to Call it Quits, Will You Know What to Do?”. Psychology Today. Retrieved August 28, 2019
Kim, Jen (2019, February 25). Is the “One That Got Away” Real?” Psychology Today. Retrieved August 28, 2019
Strong, Rebecca (2018, October 31). How Long Does It Take To Get Over The One That Got Away? Experts Explain. Elite Daily. Retrieved August 28, 2019
Shatto, Rachel (2018, October 5). What Does Being “The One That Got Away” Mean Here’s How The Experts Explain It. Elite Daily. Retrieved August 28, 2019
Cary, Megan (2016, December 5). Steps To Take To Get Over The One That Got Away. Elite Daily. Retrieved August 28, 2019