As we journey through the wild and sometimes wonderful ride of dating and relationships, there are many people who pass in and out of our lives. There are long term relationships, one-night stands, and those in between whom we’ve dated once or twice, with no spark to keep it going. And apart from all of these are those fantasy people, the ones who got away.
In your life there will probably be one or two people who you hold in the back of your mind as always-possibilities, but never seem to connect with how you want to, or when you want to. These “might-have-beens” are precious because they are always there, in the back of your mind, like a reserve possibility, a forever option.
The question of ‘what you could have had’ lies between you whenever you run into each other, made all the more exquisitely painful by the ever-present obstacles that lie in your path. There can be any host of reasons keeping you apart. Perhaps you first met her as the girlfriend of a friend, and even after they broke up, you knew it wasn’t cool to date her.
Maybe you only run into each other when one of you is in a relationship. You find a way to slip away from your significant other to say ‘hi’, far from their suspicious glare. You are both a little too excited to see each other, there’s a lot of arm touching, maybe even a hug just so you can feel close to each other for a second. You’re both just so happy you ran into each other. And then she slips away again. This can carry on for years.
What would happen, you wonder, if you and she ever wound up in the same town, both single, and you ran into each other? Could it ever be as wonderful as you have been imagining all these years? When you think of her, you see yourselves in an innocent light: picnics, flowers.
You would treat her how you have always wanted to treat a woman, but haven’t found the inspiration yet to do so. You imagine leaving parties and bars together to go and make out in the washroom, because this longing that has been building up inside of you won’t be able to be suppressed. You won’t be able to keep your hands off each other because you will see each other as the prize that you have been slogging through lesser relationships in order to attain.
Here’s the thing about the one who got away, and why she’s so precious. Usually, you have seen her fleetingly. You’ve watched her laugh on the other side of the room. You’ve seen her at her best because you are both on your best behavior when the other is around. There’s a sweet shyness between you because neither of you wants to break the bubble of longing, yet you want to so badly.
Keeping her in the back of your mind, you are able to keep believing that there is an ideal out there; that there is a perfect match for all of your foibles. You imagine a relationship blessedly uncomplicated, because with the magnetism between you, how could you not just let this relationship flow without all the crap that has seemed to get in the way of other relationships?
So, with all of these wonderful thoughts about the unlimited possibilities with this dream girl, how could you consider not dating her if the opportunity came up? Many would say that you would be a fool to give up the opportunity to date someone who has turned you inside out for so long. But consider this: perhaps what makes her so special is precisely that longing you feel every time you see her. Perhaps it’s not her at all, but the possibility of her that you long for.
If you date the fantasy girl, then she will soon become very real, and it will be a normal dating relationship. There will be intense excitement at first as the two of you satiate that intense longing you have endured. After a while, however, it will turn into a relationship with ups and downs, her insecurities and yours, faults and fissures. You will realize that she isn’t an ideal girl, because someone that perfect and flawless can only live in your mind. Real people and real relationships will always have their struggles.
Isn’t it worth a shot, though? you ask. Perhaps it is. Perhaps every potential relationship is worth a shot. If you date someone you have just met, however, you do not have a whole lot to lose. Either there’s a spark or there isn’t, but you haven’t really given up a piece of yourself for a few dates. If you date the fantasy girl, however, and it doesn’t work out, you are losing something a little more important.
Dating requires a lot of faith, because if we didn’t believe that there was something really fantastic at the end of this process, it would be really difficult to justify continually putting ourselves out there for the daily attack on the ego that that dating world can be. When we get hurt, we need a reason to get back up on that horse.
We need a light at the end of the tunnel that we can walk towards, knowing that it is the goods we have been seeking. This light is the fantasy girl. She represents everything that you once believed relationships can be: simple, uncomplicated, just two people who hang out, have incredible sex and try to do what they can to make each other’s lives a little brighter.
In order to keep this dream alive, you have to keep your beacon safe, untouched by the harsh reality of real life. If you date her, and it doesn’t work out, what will you have to drive you forward? Having lost your proof that there will always be something worth longing for out there, where will you turn for inspiration in the future?
On the other hand, if it does work out, if she is everything you thought, and your emotional baggage and hers form a lovely matching set, a real life beacon is so much more inspiring than one that lives only in your mind.