That time I tried to get over someone I never even dated, it took me nearly three years.
Maybe this sounds creepy, so I’m going to clarify. Getting over someone isn’t as much a daily thing as it is a subconscious, lurking-in-the-back-of-your-mind-and-jumping-out-when-you-least-expect-it thing. When I say I spent nearly three years trying to get over someone I never dated, I don’t mean I spent every single day of that time stalking them online, or messaging them, or stalking them and then messaging them with the information I found from stalking. It’s more about your headspace in the long run. I can be okay for a week, and then suddenly think about them again, and think about how I’ll die alone, and nobody will find my body until my neighbours start to complain about the smell of my decaying corpse.
Way back when, I was on the brink of dating someone, and then I destroyed it. It got awkward, because we were in high school and still had classes together, and we sat in the same cluster of tables for one of those classes. And I had said no because I was afraid, not because I didn’t like them. They were very kind. They said, okay. I still really like you, but I’m going to try to sort that out. I said, okay, I’m really sorry. I thought, great. I’ve just ruined my own life again.
I’m not sure what happened for them, but I spent the next two and a half years actively pining for them on-and-off. Being a human being is complicated, so even though we never officially dated, I still felt some raw gnawing in my heart, kind of like that feeling you get when your heel gets being repeatedly scraped against a pair of new shoes and the skin is coming off. Gross. And uncomfortable.
Long story short, I only managed to get over them when I met someone new. Never dated that new person either, just pined after them because they were a bit older and I never had luck with anyone romantically anyway. My friends used to say that I was great at the platonic, and a disaster at the romantic. It is true to this damn day. Anyway, that person was so cool, so poised, and so intelligent; they were straight-up magic. It was like I was a homeless cat, and they were a bag of fresh cat-nip, sprinkled all over a grave in an Upper East Side cemetery, saying, come hither, kitty. Roll around in emotional compost. So of course I did exactly that. Instantly, I was smitten. And I thought: I definitely am not going to approach them, because I’m a coward. So I kept them at arm’s length for a few years, thinking about them a lot and feeling the strongest sensation of: God, I’m so in love with you, I could drop dead right now, if only to be at your feet.
(So far, we know these things about me: I’m a coward, and also, I tend to forget about the people who like me just so I can chase after people who don’t. So I’m a coward, and an idiot. Are you keeping up? Great.)
So. I’ve had my fair share of bumbling about, being hopelessly in love with very specific people for long periods of time. Not the best use of my energy, but it’s that or getting drunk. (Drinking too much actually breaks me out, so maybe I have been doing myself a massive favour this whole time.) Anyway, I guess even if you’re not actively thinking about someone all the time, it is exhausting to perpetually admire someone. It’s like being wrung dry emotionally, and then being hung up to air like washing, and you just don’t know what to do with yourself.
I’m not saying getting over someone is going to be easy, because if it were, then I wouldn’t be writing this. I would be out there lying on a patch of grass in a spot of sun, thinking about what to eat for lunch tomorrow. But I just want to say: if your smart modern brain chemicals can lead you to it, then they can lead you through it. Hard as this journey will be, you’re just going to have to get through it, because you’re wasting time and energy.
Also, it sucks, okay? It just sucks, and it’s going to keep sucking, because you know you aren’t going to act on your feelings so it’s just going to be this disgusting conglomerate of fatty tissues in your coronary artery, clogging everything up. And you know that if you don’t remove it, it’s going to kill you. Yet at the same time, you’re not on a great health insurance plan, and this is open heart surgery.
Behold, for this is where I swoop in with my totally unsolicited, extremely unqualified advice. I’m that shady backdoor self-proclaimed plastic surgeon and I’m here to make it all better.
(Note: if you like someone and you’re going to act on it, these aren’t tips for you. Get out of here, you sane person. These are tips for those of us who are so delusional and far gone that I’m going to have to use a drain snake to fish out of the murky, murky sludge. If that sounds like you, keep reading.)
DON’T BLOCK THEM; JUST MUTE THEM.
Closure is a lie. Everyone says you need to say goodbye to them in some monumental way, like blocking them online, but I’m here to say: NOPE. You don’t need to block them. If their name is constantly popping up and that makes you sad, just mute them. I recommend this because when you finally do get over them, they’re not out of your life forever. Which will be nice, because after all, you were just experiencing heavy emotional turmoil, and blocking them would’ve made your internal breakdown realer. It’ll also be more awkward if you block them and you have to see them regularly in real life, because then they’ll be like – hey, uh, why did they block me? What did I do wrong? Nothing. You did nothing wrong, bar having been born so perfect.
DON’T ESTABLISH ANY CONTACT WITH THEM.
On the opposite end of the closure spectrum is you thinking you need to message them to see what is going on in their life right now. You think: maybe if I find out how they are now, I’ll be content, and stop thinking about them forever. It’ll be quick and easy! NOPE. It will be slow and difficult, because here’s how it will actually go down: you’ll spend two hours crafting a message that is just innocuous-sounding enough, and then you will spend the rest of your day anxiously waiting for their reply. Don’t put yourself through that. I know you don’t think it’s true, but you deserve better, because you are a Smart Modern Woman. So just leave them alone.
THROW YOURSELF INTO YOUR WORK.
This sounds so obvious, but if you keep busy, then eventually, you will rewire your brain into thinking that your work is the one you should be infatuated with. It takes some time and a lot of effort, and being employed is a prerequisite, but if you stick with it, you will soon find yourself masturbating to – not the person you have a crippling crush on – but the thought of buying a new label-maker. And this will solve all your problems in life, because you can actually go out and buy a new label-maker, because you are a Smart Modern Woman with a steady income.
WATCH A LOT OF TV.
Since we’re onto rewiring our brains, this one is for the unemployed. That’s not your fault, the economy is a mess, and having a Bachelors Degree means next to nothing these days. Instead of stalking them online, scour the Internet for a new TV show to binge! Then stay in bed and don’t move until you’ve watched everything. By the time you’re done watching all of THE OFFICE in five days, you will have lost your grip on reality, but also your crush. All I can say is, you win some and you lose some. Life is not perfect, and we make do with what works, even if we cause some brain damage along the way.
BUT IF ALL ELSE FAILS, MEET SOMEONE NEW.
Only so you can repeat the whole damn infatuation process again. Do this if you’ve just read the list and realised you cannot be cured, that you were made in such a way that you’ll always be pining after someone you can’t have. If you’re this kind of person, then I’m sorry; it’s going to be a hard life. But let’s hear it once more: you are a Smart Modern Woman. So you can still be savvy about it. Get more bang for your buck by choosing someone more worthy of your one-sided affection. Don’t waste your life smitten with a 7/10 when you can fall for a 10/10. It’s called having standards.
That’s that. I’ve said all I wanted to say, and I can only hope it helps. Being in love can be great, but right now, it is terrible. So either try to get into that great state, or learn to be okay with the terribleness. Either way, you are a Smart Modern Woman, and whatever happens, it is your prerogative.