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beauty is pop culture // sex rules the world 

  • Luana Minho Rabelo

Fixing The Unfixable; On Bittersweet Breakups.

If you’re secretly hoping for the return of The One that Got Away, you’re not alone. Here’s how to not let it ruin your life.

Our last kiss was a goodbye kiss, but it didn’t have the bittersweet feeling that something ended. It was as if we were only just beginning. As if the past and the future hadn’t always been trapped in a tug of war over our love.” 

That is the first line of my second novel’s author’s note—a “Dear John” letter to the man who inspired it.

You’ve heard it before. You’re watching Past Lives by yourself in the movie theatre. Or accidentally becoming friends with your best friend’s The One that Got Away you didn’t even know existed. Here’s how the story goes: two people love each other but never actually get together. Something always happens. And, if their love never begins, it never ends; condemned, like the Paul Celan poem, to “oscillate between always and never.” 

I used to love these stories. Until I became the main character in one of them. And it ended in one of the worst heartbreaks I’ve ever experienced. So can I be sure I got rid of him forever? Of course not. Perhaps I did. It seems like it. But this isn’t the first time I’m tempted to be sure. 

There are enough stories about getting over the end of relationships. But how do you get over something you’re not sure is over?

Be honest about your feelings. You can’t heal from something you don’t acknowledge. There’s nothing wrong with hoping that they’ll come back to you. It’s love; we can’t always help it. Don’t be ashamed of it. But be careful so it doesn’t become a fantasy or a necessity. 

In time, you might realise, as I have, that as much as you’d love to give it another shot, the life you’ve built without them makes more sense than the one you’d have with them. This life grows around hope and it becomes smaller and smaller with time. 

The last time I lost him hit me the hardest but it was also when I made the decision of considering it over even if it was unresolved; the way you declare someone dead after they’ve been missing for years. It’s a morbid metaphor; but it’s how I felt. 

So I bargained with myself, “If not him, what would you settle for? What do you need to walk away with?” The only thing I loved that much was writing. So I decided that it was enough if our story lived on. And that’s my second novel.

Remember that you deserve better.

The problem with long-term situationships is that you can lose yourself in them and end up thinking all love is this complicated and bittersweet. It’s not. Love can also be joyous and simple. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find you like this kind of love better. 

That is, if you allow it to be better. Be careful not to unconsciously sabotage your new relationships because they might make it harder for you to get what you’ve always wanted. Your new love is asking for one chance. Remember how many you gave the other one? 

The love you feel is your superpower; not theirs. 

It’s not pointless to love alone; if one’s definition of loving is broader than having a relationship with the person. And if you can make that love yours. When you lose someone you love, the beginning of the healing process has to do with realising some of the things you loved about this person are present in you too.

If you can’t get rid of the love, give in to it and channel it. What can you do with it? Make art? Pass on the lessons you’ve learned from it? Take your best friend to the concert of the band you ended up falling in love with because of them? The possibilities are endless.

That all said, if, against all odds, The One that Got Away shows up at your door and you still want them, I hope you’re brave enough, and not too proud, to follow your heart. 

 Are you passionate about exploring the intricate worlds of beauty, sex, wellness, and culture? Do you belong to a marginalized community and have unique perspectives and stories to share? If so, Nightstand Service is eagerly seeking contributing writers like you! Get in touch:


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