How to get over a guy you dated a year ago

Dear Edahn,

I dated a guy for a couple of months last year, this time of year. He was the first guy in a long time that I truly felt connected to, like there was a possible future. At first I wasnt even attracted to him physically. He definitely liked me more than I liked him, but after dating for about six weeks we went on vacation together and I let myself fall into it at that point, and I fell hard. A few weeks later I could sense that things were off-- he was becoming less available and I know from my all too extensive dating experience that he was trying to fizzle out of the relationship. I called him on it, and he told me that he was not in a good place for a relationship (he had come out of an engagement only weeks before we started seeing each other, and he was extremely busy with school-- both things were true, and this wasnt your standard "I'm too busy for a relationship" excuse) He told me that he needed time free of responsibility to anyone but himself, so that he could make decisions without having to take anyone else into account, and that he needed time to refocus after his past relationship, that we should stay friends, and that in a couple of years, when he had his shit more together, we could try again.

I would normally toss this away as an attempt to let me down lightly, but we actually did stay in touch for a few months afterward, hung out a few times without hooking up, and gchatted as well as phone calls. This too started to fizzle with time, and I eventually gave up any hope of us rekindling our flame. Ive tried to move on; Ive dated many guys in this last year. I just dont feel connected to any of them the way I did to him from the get go. As this time of year comes around I really really miss him. I recently heard that he's been sort of back on the dating scene, but we havent spoken in at least 6 months. Hearing about him possibly dating someone else still really affects me, and the thought of him with someone tears me apart. I didnt realize that I missed him this much until I heard that-- how do I get over this guy? how do I learn to not compare the feelings I have for potential new guys to the feelings I had for him? is there really such a thing as "not being ready" to be in a relationship, or is this just an easy way of saying "I'm not ready to be in a relationship with YOU"?

I think you never really got over this guy and also picked up some ideas and habits that are tripping you up. So, let's try and do a little psychological scrubbing and organization.

1. Guys like to give girls mixed messages to spare their feelings. We don't want to hurt you, so instead of saying "I'm not interested in you" we concoct excuses like "I'm too busy with work" or "I need to figure things out" or "I'm not ready for a relationship." Sometimes we would really like to be friends, other times we just offer friendship to soften the blow, but in either case, we're not interested in a romantic relationship. The bottom line is if he liked you he would choose to accommodate you despite his confusion and circumstances. The fact that you were able to be friends after doesn't change the analysis.

You can take that information different ways. Most people respond by thinking that rejection implies that they're messed up or broken, as if they're not put together as well as the person who just rejected them. It takes a little time to develop the integrity necessary to challenge that assumption and see the reality of the situation: we're just not a good fit. That second interpretation doesn't assign fault to him, or to you. You just see it as a mismatch between two unique people. It didn't work out, but you know what? I'm still pretty fucking awesome, with or without someone else.

2. There's a tendency to idealize past relationships in a process I call "biased review." Basically, when you scan your past relationship for memories, you choose the warmest ones that give you a familiar feeling and neglect all the bad stuff. You forget the times when you didn't connect, when you felt awkward, when you questioned your attraction and the strength of the relationship. You end up idealizing and romanticizing your relationship and then start missing it even more. I think this is going on here.

How do you correct this? Just make an effort to actively remember all the bad stuff. Whenever you start reminiscing, force yourself to consider the worst parts of your relationship as well.

3. You don't have to stop comparing your new dates to your old relationship. You just have to be smart about it. There were good things you had in your relationship that you can keep in the back of your mind. That's one of the benefits of dating: you figure out what's important to you and what meshes with you (and, of course, what doesn't). Dating people with great qualities helps me refine my "search filter" to screen out le spam.

The same goes for you. There's no problem making comparisons between your ex and your new dates; just be reasonable. If a guy isn't warm or interesting or playful, kick his ass out of the running for Top Boyfriend. If, on the other hand, you're expecting an immediate sense of familiarity to be there without getting to know the person and you can see how you're being unreasonable, then just chill out. You can just ask the guy a question about his ab routine or his favorite shape (or his favorite website) instead. You're a smart girl and you know when you need to make an adjustment.

Hopefully this'll give you some stuff to think about and shake things up a bit. Then all you really need is some time to let the old wounds heal so you can rejoin the rest of us miserable, irascible single people. Awesome! :)