How do I move on?

Dear Lisa,

How do I quickly get over a woman that does not love / like me but I like her?

–Longing (♂ Vancouver)


Dear Longing,

Have you ever heard the story about the man who joins a monastery and asks a monk how long it takes to become enlightened, and the monk says something to the effect of ‘ten years… but for you, twenty.’ I think the same sort of philosophy applies here. No matter what you do, or how badly you want it, or how logical it seems, you can’t make your heart heal any faster than it’s ready to. And more than that, by intellectualizing your feelings – essentially refusing to actually feel them in all of their glory – you are clogging up all of your feelings, good and bad, and will take longer to unclog than it would to just feel what you feel when you feel it.

To satisfy your brain though, I do have some thoughts on what the feeling process takes. First, it might help to consider whether she would have actually made a good match for you. Often times, especially in the early stages of a relationship, one individual notices the mismatch first, which can cause the other person to get defensive and deny that there’s anything amiss on principle. It hurts the ego when you are the last to notice something that seems obvious to someone else, not to mention how crappy it feels to be told that you aren’t the one. It’s common to defend the relationship by trying to find ways that it could work, but only if you are truly a good match for one another.

Secondly, I think it’s good to ask yourself whether you you might have liked the idea of you as a couple, more than you actually liked her. I think that this is frequently why one person often notices the mismatch first – the other person is wrapped up in the good feelings that being in a couple brings, and hasn’t gotten to the point yet where they feel the pieces that are missing…. which brings us back to the first point; it sucks to be the last to notice! Often, folks who haven’t had the long term relationship they desire, or have been out of relationship for a long time find themselves in this position. It’s good to realize, even after the fact, that by staying together you might have been settling for less than what you truly want in order to have something at all. A possible silver lining in the cloud?

Lastly, and more rarely, she might have been the perfect woman for you, but you simply weren’t the one for her at this point in both of your lives. If this is the case, yours is of the most painful of circumstances, and I’m sorry that you have to go through it. Deep down, there is a part of you that sees how the fact you aren’t the one for her, makes her not the one for you. Unfortunately it takes time and feeling to reconcile your heart and mind. If you have a hard time connecting with the feeling, try and say in your mind or out loud ‘I miss her.’ ‘I miss what we had.’ ‘I dread never having what I hoped for.’ and do your best to let what arises pass through. It helps.

Whichever the case, we don’t really have a word to deal with this sort of longing in English. The closest I have found is saudade, a Portuguese word that combines emotional longing and the fact that the object of affection may be gone forever. When you feel it – maybe it is pain in your belly or heart, a catch in your throat, or an irresistible urge to close your eyes and never wake – really feel it. There is nothing to do but to experience the pain in the moment as it passes through like an ocean wave. As you focus your energy on letting yourself be transparent to the waves of emotion, it will become clear that the pain and fear feel very real right now, but they aren’t constant, nor do they last forever. If the lack of words in English to describe such longing is an indication of our understanding of it; you are not alone in finding a process to deal with it.

Let me know how it goes,

– Lisa



One Response to “How do I move on?”

  1. Longing

    Thank you for your reply! This really helped!


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