To the Ones That Got Away, I Have Two Words for You

Building valuable, healthy relationships are central to living a positive and productive life. Bumble has helped change the way we interact, breaking down old-fashioned power dynamics and encouraging women to make the first move. Over the next month, we’re celebrating love. We’ve partnered with Bumble to highlight interesting ways to start a conversation, how to find love in the digital age, how to cultivate intimacy as we emerge from isolation and more. Alongside our helpful and inspiring content, we’ll also share stories of ‘the one that got away’ — because sometimes it’s the love before that leads you to The One.

At the start of this year, I watched a video that completely changed how I viewed dating and relationships. By the end of the clip, I felt like my dirty lenses had been wiped clean and that I could finally see what was in front of me. I felt different. Lighter.

The clip was ‘The 1 Video You Must Watch If You Want A Relationship’ by dating guru Matthew Hussey. In it, Hussey says: “I believe that dating and relationships aren’t the be-all and end-all. I believe that they’re a great revealer of ourselves — our bad habits, our neurosis, our demons, our insecurities. They teach us so much about ourselves.”

He went on to say that the goal of his work was never to get people into relationships. And that if you thought that, you were so very wrong. He wasn’t a matchmaker, he says. No, instead, he was working to cultivate within ourselves happiness, contentedness and self-love.

It was such a simple shift in thinking, but one that I, like many who find themselves frustrated when it comes to matters of the heart, needed to hear. Because it reframed how I saw my love life. It made look differently at what I’d experienced, what I was living now and what was still to come.

It made me see that every guy I’d ever dated had, even if in the slightest way, helped shape me. And for that, I owed them a thank you.

It made me appreciate the guy I’d dated who said exactly what was on his mind, even if those thoughts came across as cruel or rude. From him, I’d learnt that I was an empath and that I wanted to make it a point to surround myself with people who were sensitive to my emotions, and gentle and caring with me.

“It made me see that every guy I’d ever dated had, even if in the slightest way, helped shape me.”

It made me grateful for the guy who, after three amazing, rom-com-worthy dates, had ghosted me. From him — and every other guy who’s ever ghosted me — I’d built up resilience and learnt not to take things so personally. That people sometimes don’t act in the way you’d like them to, and that’s OK. You can control how you react and what meaning you take from their action.

It made me thankful for every guy I’ve ever chased when they’ve started to pull away. Because every instance had gotten me closer and closer to finally uncovering a deep-rooted issue: an anxious attachment style, a learning that’s helped me better understand my behaviour in not just dating and relationships, but also friendships, so that then I could consciously change it.

It also made me appreciate all the guys who ever made me feel overwhelmingly giddy. Or completely blissed out. Or that there was nowhere else in the world I needed to be than exactly where I was with them right then. Because those are incredible feelings to have — ones that I’m glad I realised I was capable of experiencing and will continue to strive to find again.

And finally, it made me grateful for the guys who made me aware of my uniqueness — my positive qualities like optimism, self-awareness and independence and also my not-so-great traits like stubbornness and selfishness.

“You can control how you react and what meaning you take from their action.”

They say that when you meet the right person, you’ll understand why it didn’t work out with anyone else. Which is a calming thought to have when you’re frustrated with dating or ending a relationship. But again, only focuses on the end goal, which for many, could still be years away.

To think that you’ll only get the ‘ah-ha’ moment when you’re finally coupled-up is wrong. It diminishes every experience in between. The reality is that each and every one of those experiences was of value.

As I sit here writing this as a single woman in her 30s, I feel incredibly grateful. I’m appreciating every potential love interest I’ve ever had. Because they’ve each contributed to my character. Or simply held up a mirror so I could see who I am.

So, to all the ones that got away, I say thank you.

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