How To Let Go Of Your ‘What-If’ Person

Go back to the beginning. Retrace your steps and contemplate what went wrong. Wince as you remember laughing too loudly at his jokes that probably weren’t really that funny and responding to texts way too quickly. Assume it didn’t work out because you were maybe too available. Too there. Too much.

Shrink. Go inward. Delete his number. Save face. Spend time alone; spend a lot of time alone. Worry your friends. Reassure them you’re fine, even though you’re lying. Show a brave face at happy hour. Put on a convincing performance of a woman who doesn’t want anyone who doesn’t want her. Almost believe it yourself for a second.

Crumble when you go home and detest how you could have felt something so strongly for someone who wasn’t really there at all.

Wish you never met him. Regret telling him the things you told him because he didn’t deserve to know those pieces of you. Be annoyed at yourself for lending him your copy of Big Magic, which you’re positive he has yet to read and honestly probably never will. Consider this a metaphor for how he felt about you.

Allow time to pass. Notice less aching. Forget to think about him one morning and slowly find your footing. Feel the ground at your feet. Breathe.

Accept that your stars were misaligned. Give up on trying to rearrange them and step into this universe instead. Stop romanticizing alternate timelines. Forget the “signs” that something could happen one day. Stop asking “what if?” and start calling it like it is, not what it could have been. Stop wishing the two of you were something that you weren’t.

Consider that maybe it’s not about what you did “wrong” but about who you both are.

Realize you’re too clumsy to be the woman who doesn’t want the people who don’t want her. Instead, become the woman who sometimes falls for men who aren’t always there to catch her but still manages to pick herself back up each time anyway.

Forgive him. Forgive yourself. Forgive fate. Feel heaviness and hope all at once and realize that maybe this is what it means to let your what-if person go.