I Kill All My Relationships By Dwelling on “What If?”

It’s time I came clean. I messed up. I made a mistake. I took something that could have ended fairly amicably, and blew it up. I ruined not only a relationship, but a friendship as well. I couldn’t hold my tongue, or just let it be. I had to ignite, light the fuse, and then, stand quietly back as it exploded in my face, demolishing any chance at contact with one of the few people I’ve ever truly cared about.

And now, we don’t speak. In fact, it’s been almost a year since I’ve seen him, and when I did try to reach out to apologize, I got no reply. Not that I could blame him—I probably wouldn’t want anything to do with me either. But, I don’t know what else to do.

Part of me just wants closure. Another part of me just hates knowing that I messed something up so badly, and I want to fix it. And then there’s the biggest part of me: the people-pleaser part. The girl who wants everyone to like her. She’s been going crazy about this for a while now.

The truth is, this all happened almost a year ago, and I know that if I were Carrie Bradshaw or Rachel Green I would have met a cute artist or office assistant by now to help me fully move on, but I’m not. In fact, I’ve met a few new people since him, but I could never fully invest. There was (well, there still is), this part of me that can’t help but think, “But what if he was my Mr. Big? Or my Ross Geller? What if?” And once my mind starts that descent, there’s no coming back.

Because then I start to think more “what-ifs” Then I start to think that what if I ruined something truly great? Or even worse, what if I ruined something that deserved to have been ruined and I’m wasting my time thinking about it now? The “what-ifs” continue until I’m all the way down the rabbit hole, looking up for my way out, but finding I’ve already opened the door into a whole new world of “could-have-beens.”

I’m desperate, scratching at everything I’ve done, everyone I’ve been with, everyone I’ve almost been with, everyone I’ve wanted to be with. What if? What if we’d met in America? What if I hadn’t been so shy? What if the timing was right? What would have happened? The fact that I’ll never know nearly destroys me—I’m hollow and empty and clutching every muscle in my body to try and ignore the pain of regret.

Because I wish so badly that I could be done with him. That I could move on completely, without looking back, and be able to give myself to a new relationship. But I can’t. Every time I come close, the “what-ifs” begin to attack. Slowly, at first. And then they’re everywhere, in my sleep, on my way to work, walking my dog. They pounce on my brain’s downtime and grab hold of my imagination—and I never get to rest. I never get to move on.

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I think it’s hard to move on when you’re not entirely sure what you’re leaving behind. When you keep asking “what if?” the door never really closes. I’ve left the door wide open for 10 months now—just hoping that he might get through. He might accept my apology. We might be friends again.

It’s unnecessarily painful, and to be honest, it just plain sucks. Because he’s not coming back, he will never accept my apology, and we’ll never be friends again. I can’t control that. And while the Monica Geller in me hates that, reminding myself of the fact helps the “what ifs” come less and less frequently. Because the door is closing, and the light is fading, and the nagging doubt, those pesky thoughts aren’t able to squeeze through as easily.

So I suppress my urge to look at old pictures, and I counter my “But I could have loved him” with the harsh truth: “He doesn’t care.” And my mind closes the door, and I taste a bitter tear, but the door is shut, and the “what-ifs” are dying. So I’ll be okay.

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  • I’ve been binge reading your articles and they make my heart hurt. It’s nice to know someone feels the same but it’s also scary to see my behaviour explained so perfectly. Korey – can we have a sleep over where we are surrounded by dogs and discuss every person we’ve ever had feelings for.

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