I have a fantasy lineup of fantasy boyfriends. I refer to several people whom I have never met as my boyfriend and husband. Isn't that a thing?
That cute barista who works at the coffee shop? My boyfriend. That guy who likes all my Instagram photos whom I have never met in real life before? Also my boyfriend.
But then, there's also that guy whom I went on two dates with and I really felt there could be a future with. After date two, he never contacted me again. He still likes all my photos, watches all my Instagram stories (what the heck is that about?), and I think about him all the time.
If we had gone on just one other date, what could have happened between us?
Sometimes, it's hardest to get over the people you actually never even dated in the first place. It feels like unfinished business.
Plus, in an increasingly social media-centered world, where it's easy to think you know someone without actually knowing them — and when online dating leads to a slew of first dates and not many seconds — it's easy to create fantasy relationships that don't really exist.
So how do you actually get over someone you never really dated?
I reached out to Jen Kirsch, dating expert and relationship columnist, to find out.
Do a social media blackout.
Becoming unhealthily obsessed with someone on social media? Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. Smash that unfollow button!
Kirsch says you need to "remove them from your social feeds":
Each and every time you see a post of theirs, you'll be triggered by it. To gain control of not being affected by their actions, whereabouts et al, either unfollow them, delete them, or use the special features on apps to remove them (and even their closest friends!) from popping up on your feeds.
In my humble opinion, unfollowing, blocking, and muting is just a form of self-care. And most likely, they won't notice, and they won't take it personally.
"I always hear from friends and clients alike who can't believe someone posted something, and how certain posts hurt their feelings and put them through an anxiety spiral. I say, 'Then stop looking at that persons feed!' It's as simple as that," she continues.
Take it day by day, and after one month of a social media blackout, I promise you will feel better.
Don't lose touch with reality.
"Just because you went from a dating app to Facebook friends to texting buds who have the occasional phone chat or FaceTime, doesn't mean you're in a relationship or that this person owes you anything," Kirsch says. Ouch, but true.
We tend to give our feelings, thoughts, attention, and selves away way too easily these days. This is a result of how accessible everybody is at all times. The person who cares about establishing a real relationship with you will make time to meet you in real life.
That means, if he's only commenting on your pics or DMing you on Twitter, he's not your boyfriend. Let me repeat: That does not make him your boyfriend. Liking pics does not mean dating. (I'm repeating this mostly for myself.)
"Realize this and stop wasting time communicating via devises back and forth and telling yourself you have a strong connection, when you haven't even met. The more aware you are of the situation for what it is, the easier it will be to walk away from," she summarizes.
Flirt with someone new.
The best way to get over someone old is to get under someone new. Sorry.
"Instead of chatting about it with your girl squad over drinks and lunch and at events, move forward. We spend so much time trying to figure out why things are the way they are and analyzing the situation instead of just moving on," Kirsch says.
That endless talking and wondering about what happened with your ex? It's sticking you in the past like cement. Move on. Pull up your big girl panties and start having fun, whether it's at your job, with your friends, or in your romantic life. Because most likely, he's not out with his friends moping about you.
Kirsch says it's important to take this time to see what else is out there:
Instead, enjoy your time with your friends. See if they know anyone. Flirt with your bartender or the babe across the room. Being out with your buds and putting the idea of someone out of mind will allow you to attract likeminded mates. I always find it ironic that I can be out with a gorgeous, smart, successful friend, and she spends our whole eve analyzing why a guy who has been saying he wants to see her, but never does, doesn't want to see her. She takes it personally, asks me what she did wrong, etc., and [she] is oblivious to all the guys around us who are ogling at her!
Whether it's social media, or just a few dates before ghosting, it's easy to get hung up on relationships that never truly got to run their course — or never even started in the first place.
Kirsch concludes, "With such increased access these days to people via social, we feel like we know them so well, even though we've never met them IRL. We watch their days unfold via Snapchat, Insta stories, live feeds, and the like."
But things aren't always what they seem, especially when it comes to social media. She says,
I know one bearded Instagram star, if you will, who is in a happy, monogamous, long-term relationship with his girlfriend [whom] he adores and adorns, yet he never shows her or includes her in his online posts because it's not good for his 'brand.' Watching women comment and drool over him on his images becomes borderline embarrassing because he will never stray [from her] , but no one knows better.
She gives one last piece of advice: "A tip in this sort of situation is to be aware of whether what you're putting out to an online crush is reciprocated. If not, take a step back and put your energy elsewhere."