It isn’t hope, but who we put our hope in, that determines if we hold on to possibilities.
You’re putting your hope in someone who hasn’t decided they want you. Your connection together is so palpable you can feel the breath of their exhale to your inhale. You’ve done all the couple things, yet they haven’t made any signs of commitment.
You replay the unfulfilled promises, confusion, and never-ending longing. Frankly, you’re in shock. You can’t make sense of how their words and actions don’t match up. You want to hate them but you can’t. Maybe you need this time apart. You’re secretly hoping they realize they need you and come running back. “Does that make me unrealistic or a fighter?” you wonder.
It feels impossible to move on from someone you never dated because of bargainer’s hope. Bargainer’s hope says, “If I act a certain way, then maybe I’ll get something in return.” Most likely, you’ve been using bargainer’s hope your entire situationship. “If I fight hard enough, they’ll realize they love me.”
You try to barter your worth, but you can’t trade with someone who doesn’t recognize your value.
We can’t bargain people into our lives. We can’t bargain for acceptance or attention. We must acknowledge when it’s time to let go. Letting go doesn’t mean you forget. It means you develop new ways of being without the person you love in your life.
If you don’t stop reaching for unavailable people, you close yourself off from the people who are. You’ll have one foot in your next relationship and the other out. You convince yourself that this person is your soulmate, twin flame, or whatever word you attribute to your cosmic connection. Intense feelings and wishing alone do not make a relationship.
Bargainers’ hope was the entry point to your heartache. The truth is, people don’t owe you anything, even if you’ve given them your all. Love takes watering. Water is respect, communication, consistency, and emotional availability. You’re demanding to be watered by someone who has no water to give.
Here are the bargains you made that make it harder to walk away.
1. You felt the moment your partner started pulling away, so you made yourself more available, hoping they would stay.
Moving on hurts the most because you’re so in tune with your lover’s emotions. It almost feels like a violation of their privacy. It’s helpful in one aspect because it means you have the most soulful sex, your bodies and essence fuse into one. It also means you felt the second they started pulling away.
You asked, “What’s wrong?” and they said, “Nothing.” You knew this was a lie.
You made yourself more available, hoping they would stay. You answered every text. You gave your lover everything they wanted. You sacrificed your dignity. Yet they’re gone.
2. You ignored your definitive list of qualities, hoping they’d turn into the person you want.
You knew you weren’t the best match from the start. You’ve already dated this type of person. They had traits you didn’t like, but your attraction was unexpected. You connected in a way like no other, so you threw out the rules.
Your elders told you that love takes sacrifice, right? There’s a difference between sacrifice and compromise. Sacrifice is when one person does most of the work. They give up qualities that are important to them or adjust their values time and time again. However, compromise is when two people work together to figure out their lives. You surrendered for someone who wasn’t willing to do the same.
3. You ignored the red flags, hoping that your love was the exception.
Even now, you think that maybe the red flags don’t apply to you. You hope you’re the exception. Everyone else will fail, but your bond with the person you love is different. You hope the inconsistencies will disappear if you ignore them long enough.
I know your heart is screaming that you belong together. I know your gut is flip-flopping at the thought of their absence from your life. Please know that getting back together means you both have to be committed to doing the work. You already have cracks in the foundation that constantly need reassessing. Your relationship would have to be the top priority—for both of you. You would have to compromise, not sacrifice. The person you love already isn’t showing up for you.
Do not let them break your heart again. You deserve so much more. Moving on from someone you love hurts the most because they don’t even try.
4. You gave so much of yourself, hoping to get commitment in return.
Moving on from the person you love takes effort because you did not hold back. You did not pretend. You did not guard your heart because you liked your partner. For you, that’s rare. Liking someone means you genuinely enjoy their company. You want to spend time with them, you’re happy to see their face.
It isn’t easy to find someone who makes you laugh, who you’re attracted to and doesn’t annoy the hell out of you. You laid your vulnerabilities out in the open. You did not hide your body or your mind. Your everything still wasn’t enough. That takes a blow to your ego. It makes you question your worth.
You wonder, does anybody want you for who you are? Doesn’t anybody want a long-term committed relationship? Or is it all just a game?
I know you can’t see a way forward, but an almost commitment is not what love looks like. Love leaves you calm and secure. It doesn’t leave you begging and waiting. There are people who will genuinely love you. They will hold your heart. You are enough.
5. Everyone expects you to just “get over it” because it wasn’t real. You cling on, hoping it will make others understand it was.
Moving on is difficult because you’ve never wanted anything more. Yet you can’t claim the relationship. Being together made you feel free.
The absence of a relationship title doesn’t make your feelings less tangible. You think if you cling to the memories long enough, maybe you can convince others that what you had was real.
You don’t need a label, anyone else’s validation or acknowledgement to grieve the bond you feel.
In this moment, I want you to put your hand on your heart and recognize its beat. Where it beats, there is hope. You will get through this moment. Remind yourself of that, with every pulse you feel. I promise that you don’t actually want to be with someone who uses you for emotional support and physical pleasure. You owe it to yourself to let go.
Moving on from someone you never dated hurts the most because of bargainer’s hope. You cannot bargain your way into anyone’s heart. You do not need to bargain your way into anyone’s heart. Love is freely given. Love is freely received. It’s time to go where you are loved, not almost loved. It’s time to go where action and commitment match how you feel.