Do you have that one ex that your thoughts always drift to when you daydream? Do you find yourself wincing when you look at their Instagram and see happy, colorful photos of them living their best life? If you’ve ever felt like you might still have feelings for the the one who got away, deciding what to do can be very difficult. Watching fictional characters dramatically reunite with their long-lost loves can be swoon-worthy and all on screen, but dealing with the feelings surrounding "the one who got away" is a lot harder to navigate IRL.
"If the one who got away is off living their best life and happy in a new relationship," Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the podcast breakup BOOST, tells Elite Daily. "that can cause a person to have more regret and literally wish they were the one happy with [their ex] now." Missing an ex can bring up a lot of unpleasant emotions. Leckie explains that seeing an ex as "the one who got away," can sometimes prevent you from unpacking those feelings fully.
Don’t panic, because she’s got your back. Check out the following things you can do if you’ve been feeling like Katy Perry circa 2010.
1Examine your feelings about your ex.
One sign that you think your ex might be the "one who got away" is constantly comparing others to them. For example, an indicator that you’re still harboring feelings for an ex is if you keep comparing everyone you date to your former partner. If you are searching for characteristics of an ex when you’re looking for potential-partners or dates, it might be helpful to take a closer look and examine your feelings.
Leckie explains that another sign is feeling like, "the grass is greener on the other side." For instance, if feelings for your ex only arise upon certain anniversaries of your relationship, or after seeing photos of them, it may be a fleeting emotional response to loss. Before reaching out to your ex, consider taking time to see if these emotions surrounding your ex persist. Oftentimes, they’re triggered by nostalgia!
2Consider the context of your breakup.
Another way to frame your feelings for the ex you’ve been missing is to remind yourself why you split. According to Leckie, being realistic about your breakup is important when it comes to seeing an ex as "the one who got away." This is because it can be a heck of a lot easier to see your ex as "the one who got away," than candidly remembering the reasons that things didn’t work out.
Leckie explains that seeing someone this way, "shows that the person isn’t taking ownership or accountability for why the relationship didn’t work." This is also true for remembering the ways that an ex may have hurt you in the past. Reminding yourself of the circumstances of your breakup can sting, but it’s better than holding on to a perception of the past that doesn’t take everything into account.
I had a partner in college who I was very serious about. They ended our relationship during my senior year because they weren’t ready to make a serious commitment post-college. Sometimes, I find myself thinking back to the relationship in a super romanticized way, until I remember that this person didn’t "get away" — they chose to end it. That is always a hard pill to swallow, and on bad days, can make me really sad! However, it helps to remind myself that there is still a partner for me somewhere out there who might be an even better match.
3If you want to reach out, do so respectfully.
If, after reflecting on your feelings and the context of your breakup, you are still thinking about reaching out to your ex — do so respectfully. It’s important to both respect your ex’s boundaries and to protect your own heart when doing so. Leckie explains that exes that see their former partner as the "one who got away" can sometimes push for contact, meet-ups, and constantly try to negotiate the breakup. But in doing so, she explains that they might be mostly thrilled by the aspect of "getting someone back." If you are ready to approach your ex, it can be helpful to brace yourself for the worst-case scenario. You might even be pleasantly surprised by their reaction.
According to Leckie, people can sometimes gain a "hindsight is 20/20" mentality when it comes to past relationships. "Sometimes people are too young to realize what they are losing at the time. Or sometimes people just have very little relationship experience and don’t realize that you have to put forth ongoing effort to make a relationship work," she explains. Growth is possible, and sometimes time apart is what it takes to realize what your relationship needed to succeed.
If you decide to reach out, try to be gentle with yourself as this can be a very vulnerable thing to do. Remember that there are so many potential partners for you out there, just waiting to meet you and fall in love. So maybe you should consider saying, in the immortal words of Ariana Grande, "Thank U, Next."
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