How to Get Over Someone You Never Dated, According to 11 Experts

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Sometimes getting over an “almost” relationship is even harder than breaking up with someone.

There’s always that nagging thought of “Maybe…”

So, how do you get over someone you never even dated?

Dr. Sanam Hafeez

Sanam Hafeez

Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Comprehend The Mind | Relationship Expert | Faculty, Columbia University

Some essential items to keep in mind when getting over someone you never dated are: One, gaining insight about yourself and your own emotions. Two, allowing yourself time to process the unrequited and unrealized love. Three, give yourself space from those emotions. Four, give time some time.

Self-reflect on your infatuation with the person

Self-reflecting is an essential process to gather your thoughts and feelings so you can arrive at a place of self-understanding. Being in love or having feelings for someone who you have not dated puts you in a vulnerable position that can cause anxiety, sadness, and isolation.

People who experience this dynamic have a high chance of focusing on their own shortcomings and longing for their love-interest.

Taking steps to reflect on why you were infatuated with a person who did not love you back will allow you to reconnect with yourself.

Ultimately the goal is to understand that any lack of reciprocity in this particular connection, does not mean your love life is doomed, and it does not mean you are not worthy of love; but it does mean self-love comes first.

Related: How Do You Know If You Truly Love Someone?

Allow yourself to grieve

Although you might not have been dating, that does not mean it is not painful, and you are not allowed to grieve. Letting yourself feel your sadness is a natural process after any shock or loss. This gives our brains the time to adjust to the loss of hope that our love would be returned.

Avoiding grief can lead to a stunt in personal development.

It can make us cold towards love. Processing your grief can mean listening to sad songs, eating ice cream, or having a good cry. However, you mustn’t stay stagnant in your pain from love loss. Instead, take your time to sulk, and then make it a point to move on.

Avoid them

Initial thoughts after losing someone you weren’t dating can be to reach out to them, fantasize about them, or consistently try to “coincidentally” bump into them. This is a result of your brain not being rational at the moment and giving into the withdrawals and compulsions of being with that person.

Constantly trying to reach out or reconnect will set yourself up for more disillusion as you become more tempted to fall back into the relationship mindset, even though you know rationally it will not work.

Avoiding them will further prevent you from thinking that they are misleading you where in reality, it is only misleading as a result of your desperation of hope.

Depending on the situation, cutting off all ties can allow you to focus on yourself both emotionally and physically giving you space to begin living your own life without the longing for this person.

Time is the best medicine

Getting over someone you loved is never an easy or short process, whether it be an actual break up or someone you never dated, you have to take your time processing it all. Everyone experiences unique feelings and unique situations that result in a difference in time to recover.

The time varies depending on how deep your feelings were and also how connected you are the person was.

Even though the process can be anywhere from weeks to months or even years, while you are busy living your own life, you will find yourself not thinking about that person, and as a result, the feelings fade.

Mark B. Borg, Jr., Ph.D.

mark-borg

Clinical/Community Psychologist and Psychoanalyst | Co-Author, Irrelationship

The song (if there were one) of psychological and emotional conflict—of ambivalence—goes, “I want you, I do; almost as much as I don’t.” And that sliver between wanting and not wanting highly influences our pursuit of and/or resistance to actually undertaking and inhabiting the role of partner to and for another person.

Consider the person’s qualities

And so, when we think about getting over someone we never dated, we might also consider what qualities that another person possesses that might have all but guaranteed we would not date them…not really.

In other words, the quest for the unobtainable is often, In and of itself, the less-than-conscious goal of our romantic fantasies and, more so, our pursuits.

When we find ourselves mourning someone, we might ask ourselves questions such as: Is there a pattern in this? Is it possible that being thwarted was the goal all along? What do I get from the chase? What do I get from the failure of this relationship to begin—much less take shape?

Sometimes when we ask ourselves these questions, we find that the real issue here is not that we were actually rejected or turned down, but that we fell for—and/or keep on falling for—someone who we feel we won’t, we can’t, actually approach.

What this means is that we are acting out—and thereby avoiding—our conflict by going with the “as much as I don’t” side of our ambivalence.

This also means that we still have some distance to go before we actually are ready to take the real risks associated with real relationship and, especially, long-term love. This is a powerful way to avoid a genuinely risky (to our hearts) situation.

If we’re not careful, unrequited love—mourning the dates and the relationships that never happened—can wind up being an effective defense against long-term love itself.

If there is still a chance, take the risk and date them

So, how do we get over someone we never dated? Date them! And date them as you mean it…really allow yourself to be in the dating process as well as the longer-term process of being in a relationship.

That way we’ll know who, what, and why things didn’t—and did—work out. Knowing this will make it much more possible to work through the loss and recover when things don’t work out…as well as when they do.

Dr. Carla Marie Manly

Carla Marie Manly

Clinical Psychologist | Author, Joy from Fear

When we fall for someone but never have the opportunity to date them, it’s only natural for the mind to idealize the person who is the object of our desires. Unfortunately, when we focus on the “what might have been,” we are inherently creating an illusion in our minds.

As a result, we focus on the individual in a highly romanticized way that is not tempered by the normal highs and lows that result from actually dating a person.

Accept that your feelings may just be based on a romanticized image

So, the first step in getting over someone you never dated is to accept that you are operating on a romanticized image that has not been naturally adjusted by the inherent challenges of a relationship.

Realize that there are other people whom you can connect to

Next, take a look at why you are focusing on something you don’t have rather than moving forward to find someone you can connect with. This takes some soul-searching, but it’s worth the effort.

In many cases, we get stuck ruminating on “what could have been” as an unconscious defense mechanism against moving forward in life.

Focus on the person’s  negative qualities

Finally, write out a list of the qualities that you really did appreciate in the individual you never dated. Use this list as a foundation for creating more of those qualities in yourself—and also as a list of what you want to find in the partner that is waiting for you!

Djemilah Birnie

Djemilah Birnie

Spiritual Life Coach, Becoming The Big Me | Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner | Hypnotherapist

We’ve all been there, you’re getting to know someone you are feeling the vibes, you’re even starting to picture a future with this person, and then all of a sudden they stop texting back. Ghosted. You aren’t sure how to feel. You start playing everything back and questioning where it went sideways.

The thing is, you never even dated. You were never in a relationship, but yet you found yourself attached to them and the potential idea of one forming. The days go by and your mind is still clouded with thoughts of this person. Truth be told, you might even feel a little embarrassed about how you are feeling because you were never actually together.

So how do you move on? How do you get over someone you never even had in the first place?

In order to move forward, you must first make the realization that you were never actually attached to this person

What you were attached to is the idea of them. The perfectly painted picture that you created in your own mind.

In order to destroy this idealistic image ingrained in your imagination, you must poke holes in it.

Basically, you have to point out all the ways it was unrealistic. When we as human beings start liking another human being our minds fill themselves up with stories of the future and typically, we imagine it like some fantasy love story.

So when things don’t work out and you never even get the opportunity to actually know what it’s like to be with said person, the only thing we have to compare it to is what we had imagined.

What you are going to want to do is grab a pen and paper and write as many things as possible that is not perfect about this person.

Are there any ideas they held that clashed with yours? Any personality traits you noticed that might bug you? Now, you are going to sit with your eyes closed and imagine a different scenario.

Let’s say you noticed they have some messy tendencies and you prefer things to be tidy, you are going to imagine yourself walking into the bedroom, their clothes have been thrown on the floor for the millionth time, and you see them lying in bed on their phone. You start to feel upset as you annoyingly say to them “Really, you can’t just put them in the hamper?”

Go into as much detail as you possibly can.

Whenever you feel yourself starting to wish things would have turned out differently pick a topic from your list and do the exercise again.

What I want you to remember is that when you can’t get over someone you were never actually with, the only thing you actually need to get over is the picture you painted of “what could have been” in your mind. Poke holes in the picture and before you know it there will be nothing left to hang onto.

Arlene B. Englander, LCSW, MBA

Arlene B. Englander

Licensed Psychotherapist | Author, Let Go Of Emotional Overeating and Love Your Food

Why can someone we have never dated remain so alluring, stay on our minds and even in our hearts?

The illusion of perfection

At a distance, an illusion of perfection is far more easily maintained than when in close contact with another person – experiencing their errors in intelligence, occasional verbal guffaws, their physical failings – all that makes them real, potentially lovable, and yet imperfect.

There’s no way we can compare this illusory lover with the flesh and blood individuals we really have dated, who may, in addition to all of the very human imperfections stated above, have certain characteristics that annoyed us to no end.

If we have this tendency to idealize people we don’t know very well, it could be a wake-up call to a tendency to not see others or ourselves really clearly, but rather, in an all or nothing way.

See this as a clue that we may need to better understand and accept ourselves, imperfections and all, living ourselves for who we really are.

This can be the first step towards a healthy relationship with someone else, someone who we truly get to know, and allowed to become close to us, and know us -warts and all! – as well.

Lily Ewing, MA, LMHCA

Lily Ewing

Mental Health Counselor

The first step for getting over someone you never dated is acknowledging that your feelings are real

If you’re going to process the feelings and do the work or getting over someone, you have to be able to validate that you really did love this person.

Often, when the feelings are one-sided, our minds tend to diminish our own feelings to make us feel less rejected, defective, or alone. Our minds will do anything they can to soothe our insecurities, and falling in love with someone who didn’t want to date you can certainly ignite some old and new insecurities.

You have to slow yourself down and acknowledge your true feelings. It’s also important to note that married people and those in healthy, committed, long-term relationships may also have one-sided love experiences with people who are not their partner.

Our brains are wired to fall in love, and this doesn’t automatically turn off when you commit to someone romantically. There are a lot of people who are married and who are also falling in love with people they’ve never dated. In this case, acknowledging and understanding your feelings is especially important, because left unchecked, these feelings could lead to an affair down the road.

Try to understand what desires or emotional needs the other person meets for you – where are your feelings coming from? Then, you’ve got to find ways to bring those same desires back to your real relationship.

Maybe you and your partner need to focus more on communication or make more romantic gestures, or time for dates in your marriage. Replacing those feelings for the other person with real things in your real relationship will help you get over the one you never dated.

And what I think is the most important part of getting over someone you never dated is sharing your experience with someone else. Whether it’s your best friend, your mom, or your therapist, it feels so good to let your true, unrequited feelings be known by someone else.

And in sharing with people we love and trust, we’re usually met with encouragement, support, and connection from people who love us and want to be in our lives. And those feelings are mutual.

Brittany Bouffard, LCSW

Brittany Bouffard

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Ask “how does this interest serve me?”

When you admire someone from afar, pine after someone in your social circle, or crush on that co-worker you see every day, psychologically it serves some part of you.

Especially when single, you might often look at others as potential mates or dates, it’s natural. You are looking for certain qualities and if you’ve found it in someone unavailable, it could feel like a loss.

Ask yourself if the imagining, the fantasizing, the yearning, perhaps has given you hope that someone great (like them) is out there.

It might also be in unhelpful service to you: placing a love interest on a pedestal can help you mentally avoid dating or looking for someone real, essentially taking up the romantic space with an imaginary person because of fears of jumping in with someone really available to you.

Mary, J. Gibson

Mary J. Gibson

Relationship Expert, Dating XP

Just because I let you go, doesn’t mean I wanted to.

Heartbreak doesn’t see any race, color or caste. It comes to those relationships that have no labels and it will just as real as some wound with excruciating pain. It hurts because when you were never really in the relationship and it was all misunderstood.

That “It could have been something, but you’ll never know” set of relationships can be hard. But the time never waits for anyone and you need to move on. You need to get over the person with whom you thought you had a special connection with and it didn’t evolve into something higher.

Indulge in all the self-love activities

Invest in some good time only for yourself and do one thing daily that brings happiness to you. This way, you will live your version of life and people align with your viewpoints. Understand your worth and refocus on yourself.

It was okay to feel that way – don’t deny it

You are human. Your perception of a relationship with someone can be different in their viewpoint. Hence, it is okay to feel it was real though it just fleeted away. You are entitled to those feelings and to feel hopeful about it.

Respect their decision and also don’t lose hope out there

Many a time, people do not respect the opposite person’s decision. But you should respect it as an adult and understand that there are people in this world who would love to fall in love with someone like you.

Don’t be sad if they ghost you – it’s not your fault

Majorly, people think it is their mistake if the opposite person ghosts them when they talk about their feelings. Well, guess what, it is not your fault. Ghosting is their way of dealing with the situation and steers clear of the emotional taxation.

Thus, you need to know that even though those moments never transformed into a relationship, they were true and valid. Just accept the fact that whatever you had with them was a good time and understand that your reality wasn’t their reality.

Allana Pratt

Allana Pratt

Intimacy Expert

What’s wild about getting over someone you never dated, is that the whole experience was a fantasy. You made it up. You experienced realities in your mind that never happened.

Thus, guess where the healing needs to occur? In reality. If not, you’ll just keep creating more fantasies and suffering.

  • Own it. With total compassion and nonjudgment, own the fact that you were making the whole thing up.
  • Ask why. Most people who create fantasies do so because their fear of rejection creates such an avoidance of disappointment that they live in their head.
  • Ask how can I change this. This is where you need to grow internally… what is it going to take to live in reality, date in reality, grow with another in reality? It’s going to take courage. Bravery. Showing up. Risking rejection.
  • Get support. This is where you realize that going it alone has only created fantasy. Moving forward choose a mentor or coach who walks their talk, is both vulnerable and credible and who has gotten people just like your results.
  • Forgive. Please remember you’ve done your best every step of the way. Not wanting to get hurt is totally human. Now you are becoming a person who is willing to grow in resilience, grit, and perseverance and create a new reality.
  • Celebrate living. In reality, are for the badasses of the world, the brave, open-hearted ones willing to get back up after they fall, grow and evolve, and have their dreams come true. You got this!

Ambika Devi

Ambika Devi

Life Coach | Relationship Expert | Communication Guru

I have been speaking to people for years about relationships as a coach and counselor. It’s amazing to witness time and again how the heart can harbor such love for those we’ve never really fully connected with. Often I see this caused by lack of self-esteem in the individual.

The most important thing to wrap one’s head around is the idea of being enough.

When we project through the mind onto another or even an item or an idea—we are losing our own sense of grounding and center.

It is important to understand that we are always alone and that relationships do not fill an emptiness. Relationships are classrooms that demand we work on our selves. They are learning grounds for life that teach us many valuable lessons.

If we have not been in a committed relationship how is it that we can have such strong cords that tie us? These are projections of the ego-mind.

The solution: Focus on yourself

The best choices are to immerse yourself in a new community of people from whom you can gain friendship and support. Be brave and reach outside your comfort zone and local circle. Invest in learning more about self-care and self-love. Do acts of kindness and service for those less fortunate than you. Go on a gratitude rant and focus on being a better version of you.

As you practice these new techniques you are going to find that the idea of that person you had been clinging to that you can’t seem to get over is going to fade into the distance and away. This is a re-birthing of the true you!

Adina Mahalli

Adina-Mahalli

Certified Mental Health Consultant, Enlightened Reality | Relationship Expert, Maple Holistics

When getting over someone who you never dated, consider what made you attracted to them in the first place

Were you merely attracted to their looks or was it a deeper part of their personality that really pulled you in emotionally. Keep in mind that often when people dive headfirst emotionally before they start dating a lot of their emotions are based on scenarios they have made up in their head. Thoughts of a potential future with that person.

When getting over someone who you haven’t dated it’s imperative to separate fact from fiction and identify the traits that spurred your emotions to begin with. Only then can you begin to search for someone who you can share your life with and build a healthy relationship.