Monday, January 12, 2015

The one that got away

 This is rare, but I disagree with one of last week's Carolyn Hax columns:
Q. Dear Carolyn: Can any good ever come from telling someone they were the one who got away? I’m figuring usually not . . . so why is it so tempting? ~Anonymous

A. Is it possible even to know that about someone? It’s counterfactual. You weren’t with them so you don’t know what you would have had. It’s tempting because you want to see what it’ll stir up. Do resist, though, unless you’re both free agents. Thanks.
You wouldn't know that someone was "the one" unless you were together, right? So there goes that "you weren't with them so you don't know." You DO know.

But I say revealing this depends on the motive. There needs to be none. Either you share because it could bring you two together (maybe they felt that way about you too) or because it would be a gift. It may bring a sense of peace that the other person may really appreciate. But you cannot be attached to an outcome or your motive will be obviously manipulative.

If you're in a serious relationship and feeling that way about someone else, it's a sign that your needs aren't being met. That's unlikely to change unless the reason is because your standards are unrealistic; if not, you're going to forever be dissatisfied. And if things with exes (more than one) routinely seem to look more rosy after they're gone, then it may not be that each was "the one" but perhaps that it's difficult for you to connect with your feelings while in a relationship (a whole other thing to explore). Also, if there's a chance the other person already knows (you told them and it still didn't work) then sharing that now is pointless (unless the issues between you two were really about timing).

1 comment:

  1. Lots of good can come from telling someone that.

    It can lead to recounting some fun memories.

    It can lead to a better understanding of *why* they "got away" (which, in reality, is always more about one or both people realizing things weren't going to work anyway... and being able to actively and honestly realize why things didn't work is *always* a benefit for all involved).

    It can lead to a reminder that they didn't "get away"... you did... and have been better off for it.

    It can show you how much you've grown in your appreciation (and choice) of partners since then... or how you're still hung up on that person who didn't work out (which loops back up to a previous point or two).

    It's no secret I'm a big fan of telling people how I feel or have felt about them. Very, very rarely has that gone bad. At the worst, it gets rid of people who aren't comfortable with the idea of feelings changing or, y'know, honesty about feelings. It lest everyone involved know where they stand right now.

    Sure, if, as you mention, the motive isn't just one of honesty and sharing, there can be some serious problems. But maybe, just maybe, a person sharing for those completely selfish and subversive reasons will learn their lesson when they get told flat-out that's it specifically behavior like that which lead to that other "getting away."

    Self-knowledge: It can hurt like hell... but when it sticks, it's awesomely useful. ;)