Why Is It So Hard To Get Over Someone You Never "Officially" Dated?
Dating is more complicated than ever right now: you can be benched, breadcrumbed, and ghosted by your Tinder match... all in the same week. And even when a great first date gives you butterflies, knowing what to do next can be confusing AF. Luckily, in Elite Daily's series, We Need To Talk, our Dating editors break down the latest terms, trends, and issues affecting your life with their own hot takes to figure out how to navigate finding love in a world that changes faster than you can swipe left.
I don't think my parents have ever been more confused about my love life than the time I explained that the guy I had been seeing three times a week for five months wasn't actually my boyfriend. They didn't understand how going out on dates and meeting each other's friends and celebrating Valentine's Day together didn't constitute a relationship. (Uh, full disclosure, #same.) But once that situationship fizzled out, I was just as heartbroken as I would've been after a real breakup. Why is it so hard to get over someone you never "officially" dated? It sucks.
In the years since, I've heard too many stories from friends in the same frustrating position. So, together, the editors on Elite Daily's Dating team hunkered down in a conference room, popped open a bottle of rosé, and played breakup jams while we sorted through a complicated whirlwind of feelings, determined to get to the bottom of this.
Ultimately, we came to a conclusion — and figured out how to deal with this disappointing situation once and for all.
Hannah [4:30 p.m.]
yesterday, a friend was telling me that FIVE YEARS after someone she was kind of dating dumped her out of the blue, she is still confused and upset about why it happened
so much so that she was like, should i reach out to him? just to find out what happened?
it made me think
why is it so hard to get over people you never officially dated???
Vero [4:30 p.m.]
i have a feeling it has to do with unfinished business
it’s like, you thought you were both on the same page, but you weren’t
Iman [4:31 p.m.]
i also have always wondered — why not me? why not us? the “what if”s kill me
like, i had a similar thing with this guy who started dating someone right after we ended things
after saying he didn't want anything serious
and i was like, OK fine fair but HER?!
there was nothing wrong with her
i just didn't get why it wasn't me, us, etc
Vero [4:31 p.m.]
^ same thing happened to me and now they are engaged hahaha ahah
Hannah [4:32 p.m.]
i think we think that closure will feel better than it actually does
and then ON TOP of that
when a person you never "officially" dated dumps you, it feels like you can't "officially" be sad
and you think it'll hurt less if you just get that label or that explanation or that final conversation that fixes everything, but guess what: you are still sad
and that's normal and OK but it sucks
but girl, you gotta eat 10 orders of french fries and cry in front of jane the virgin marathons with your roommate for like a longggg time before it feels better
Iman [4:33 p.m.]
we published a great story about this
the basic synopsis is: when you start seeing someone, your hormones are heightened, and when you cut it off before they start lowering back to neutral, you experience a harder crash and it hurts so much more
Vero [4:34 p.m.]
closure is so complicated though
like i feel like even now i still don't have closure from that and it's been like, three years
cause i'm still wondering
that's the eternal question
because it was sneaky!
it's always sneaky
you see no signs
and then once you have your wedding planned and the names of your first two children, they go
Y R PEOPLE THE WAY THAT THEY ARE
Hannah [4:34 p.m.]
do we think that not being official has anything to do with this lack of closure?
Vero [4:35 p.m.]
for sure it does
Hannah [4:35 p.m.]
because obviously breakups always suck but in these cases, you can’t technically even say, like, “we broke up"
Vero [4:35 p.m.]
if you talk about your expectations for the relationship from the beginning, you’ll know what to expect!
if you don’t talk about it, a breakup could come out of left field
Hannah [4:36 p.m.]
right but vero have you heard that talking about feelings is intimidating
idk if you have
Vero [4:36 p.m.]
Iman [4:37 p.m.]
but that's so painful it's like
i understand why people put off talking about feelings
Vero [4:37 p.m.]
when i had the "what are we" conversation with the guy that is now engaged, the whole reason i had it was because my mom served me with the hot quote, "if you love someone, set them free.”
Hannah [4:38 p.m.]
do you think you would you still feel annoyed by him moving on if you had, like, a fully-fledged relationship with him?
because that would be a different scenario
it would be like, you tried a relationship with him and it didn’t work out
whereas in this case, the question is still there: COULD a relationship have worked out, if you had given it a try?
that almost seems more painful in a way
like, longer-burning, low-simmering pain
compared to the intense, all-consuming pain of a breakup?
idk i am projecting
Iman [4:38 p.m.]
OK so i think the answer is that if you had actually been in a relationship with him and then broken up, you would know why you aren’t engaged to him
but if you didn't get around to officially dating, you still have room to wonder what if
Hannah [4:38 p.m.]
and the ~ what if ~ is infuriating
Vero [4:39 p.m.]
hannah, to answer your question, i don't think i would feel this way (no closure, still confused) about him if we had had a full-on relationship talk
because that would have established what we were. and if it didn't work it didn't work out and i could be able to say, he was my boyfriend, we broke up because of XYZ, period.
instead, what i got was: let's do everything that people in relationships do and not call each other partners or talk about what we're doing.
so when we DID talk about it, and i realized we were on opposite pages, i was so hurt! cause i soo thought we were.
Hannah [4:40 p.m.]
ooh vero so you're saying it's like two separate layers of hurt
the hurt of not being justified in calling it a relationship
and then the hurt of it ending in an unsatisfying way
Vero [4:40 p.m.]
it's the hurt of realizing we wanted different things and then the hurt of asking myself why and then never having an answer
like to this day i do not know why he told me he didn't want to have a girlfriend at that moment in time, and then two months after we stopped talking, got himself a girlfriend
Hannah [4:41 p.m.]
and then when there's no answer, you can spiral and invent 100 possibilities on your own
Vero [4:41 p.m.]
like were they talking at the same time we were talking?? what does she have that i don't have? what happened? what did i do wrong? all these questions flooded my brain the second i saw his instagram post
it took me a while to be like
there's nothing wrong with you
Hannah [4:42 p.m.]
i want to go back and give you a hug in that moment
Iman [4:42 p.m.]
you are great and you didn't do anything wrong, you just wanted different things
Hannah [4:43 p.m.]
the thing about relationships i think is often hard to remember when you are in the midst of a breakup is that it's not a reflection of your worth
the timing, the personalities, the chemistry, whatever.... just didn't work out in this one instance!
Vero [4:43 p.m.]
i now believe that we were looking for different things out of the person we wanted to be with
and just because i didn't have what he was looking for, doesn't mean i don't have other great qualities that someone else is going to love
and vice versa
he was not perfect!!
it is so easy to build someone up in your mind
Hannah [4:44 p.m.]
because it’s easy to dwell on “achieving” the “goal” of being in a relationship with this person, as opposed to actually evaluating if you really do like this person
Vero [4:44 p.m.]
Iman [4:44 p.m.]
that's really it
Vero [4:45 p.m.]
and you're just so excited by the prospects and the possibilities (because you haven't talked about them so you're going on and on about what's going to happen in the future in your mind!!!), that the person becomes so attractive to you because they are so mysteriously unattainable
Hannah [4:46 p.m.]
and just because the relationship wasn’t “real” doesn’t mean that it can’t really hurt
feelings are justifiable no matter what!
your heart doesn't know the difference
Iman [4:46 p.m.]
that whole "girl get over it you're better than that" thing can be dismissive
Hannah [4:47 p.m.]
i think it's a good idea to treat these situations as real breakups
be kind to yourself
give yourself time to grieve
remember that you found somebody once, you can find somebody again
don't throw yourself back into dating one second later because then you can fall into the comparison trap of comparing every new to date to the person who dumped you
Vero [4:48 p.m.]
also, guys, therapy is so great
validating your own feelings and remembering you're allowed to be sad
blocking them on IG helps a lot
i mean not like i would know
but i did unfollow him and that was helpful!
out of sight out of mind
Iman [4:47 p.m.]
out of feed, out of mind