Almost Relationships: What They Mean & How To Let Go

Almost Relationships: What They Mean & How To Let Go

As I write this post, I’m on my couch and it’s currently 1999. I’ve got Brandy’s, Almost Doesn’t Count playing throughout my house, I’m wearing my old Abercrombie sweatpants and an ex-boyfriend’s old high school sweatshirt that I found in my closet. All that’s missing is a Capri Sun instead of my mint tea. I wanted to write about a totally different topic today, I really did. But besides the number of requests I’ve received these past few months to write about almost relationships, the concept of “almost,” has been showing up a lot in my life lately.

I’m listening to the lyrics of this song and although “almost doesn’t count,” makes total logical sense…

Why is “almost” even harder to get over than full-blown?

What is it about almost relationships that, no matter how we move on in our lives (in spite of what could have [never?] been), keeps our hearts frozen in the time of what almost was?

The hardest breakup I’ve ever had to go through was breaking up with emotional grey zones. Black and white was always boring and immediately written off, but grey?… I was IN.

I gravitated toward emotional grey zones because it gave me a valid license to spend my time (and tie my value to), trying to make black and white sense of what always was and always will be… GREY.

I needed to grey all of the black and white deal-breakers, initial red flags , and ambiguity so that I could buy more time in the land of limbo. I could then, have an emotional jerk off session with fantasies that my insecurities, projection, and delusion had labeled as reality.

The codependent addiction was simple – I needed emotional grey zones to feel a sense of irreplaceable passion, intensity, etc. and emotional gray zones needed me to stay relevant.

So how does this tie into almost relationships?

The only way that an almost relationship can EVER exist is from the seed of emotional grey zones and the fertilizer of blurred lines.

Emotional grey zones make us feel like we’ve been locked out of nirvana and finally got let in. They make us question how we EVER got on before they came into our existence. And because of the intensity and the “keep-you-on-your-emotional-toes” fear that they ignite, we try to replace the FACT that there are too many “almosts” to count, with deciding to further INVEST into the belief of the emotional Ponzi scheme/scam we’re playing on OURSELVES.

All of us have had that one person – the one person that wasn’t ever completely ours, but we so badly wanted them to be. The one person who was almost everything we could have ever dreamed of. This person made us feel like anything was possible… even Happily Ever After.

With almost relationships, there’s never any certainty as far as what you’re getting into (we immediately squash this fact though, by engaging in emotional philosophication; asking ourselves bullsh*t like, “what is EVER really certain in life anyway?”).

The terms and conditions of what “almost” is keep changing as you go on because the relational foundation isn’t compacted in reality. The only black and white in the midst of so.much.grey, is that you are a part of a halfway, quasi-relationship with someone, who, may or may not be fully invested.

All of the contradictions and confusion end up acting as the ultimate build-up. An aphrodisiac to those whose hearts are not yet mended and self-love is not intact.

The problem with almost relationships is that although it may seem like there’s a level mutuality and accountability, it’s fleeting. And fleeting accountability is ZERO accountability.

There’s no commitment, discussion, or promise of an actual relationship. You don’t dare bring it up for fear of “rocking your dreamboat,” which you’re convinced, will result in abandonment. And they’re too comfortable getting the benefits of having a monogamous relationship without having to assure you, through words and actions, that they’re being monogamous.

Here’s why almost relationships happen, why they’re even harder to get over than an official, full-blown relationship, and how to LET GO once and for all.

Something I recently learned is that almost relationships don’t just happen in a romantic sense. I’ve had to learn the hard way that they can happen with friendships and even with family. The best way to deal with this is to make the decision to stop engaging in the “let-me-emotionally-bend-over” HOPE that “almost” will ever actualize into a mutual, connected and empathetic relationship.

In my opinion, the most dangerous attribute of almost relationships is that for them to survive, one party has to be empathetically bankrupt. How? If one person didn’t lack empathy, there wouldn’t be any room for “almost,” because “almost” can’t survive when there’s MUTUAL understanding and respect; an ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Sometimes though, almost relationships are just that because they CAN’T be anything else – whether it’s an affair, distance, illness, rare circumstances, etc. This can hurt even more.

What do you do then? You ask yourself, “HOW did this even happen? How did I get here?” 

There IS a way to minimize the pain and let go.

Why do almost relationships happen and why are they so alluring?

  • Almost relationships happen because they play on the fear of something that we’ve ALL experienced: abandonment. We convince ourselves that if we “take it slow” and remain “patient” (at the expense of our happiness and mental health), our Happily Ever After is bound to eventually happen. We also take out the sh*ttiest insurance policy on abandonment. We tell ourselves that since it’s not a full-blown thing, we won’t be THAT broken if it doesn’t actualize into a real relationship.
  • Even though almost relationships aren’t “official” relationships, they cater to those who struggle with boundaries, self-esteem, and self-love. The allure of the what-ifs, the unknown, the hot/cold, etc., provides a perfect storm for us to be triggered into making it emotionally official in our hearts.
  • We get in way over our heads with almost relationships because (like a moth to a flame), the bright light of our hopes, dreams, and the potential of what could be dim the truth of what really is.

This sets us up for something that my Mom brought up to me and it was so powerful, it forever changed me. This is something that I’ve struggled with my entire life…

Giving people credit they have not earned.

The reason why you tolerate almost relationship territory is because you’ve chosen to give someone credit for things that they have not yet earned. 

Why are almost relationships harder to get over than official, full-blown relationships?

Almost relationships are the hardest to get over because there’s never any closure. It’s one thing to break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend because you walked in on them cheating on you. Although that’s extremely heartbreaking and difficult, at the very least, you have a visual image and concrete knowingness to remind you of how toxic your ex is.

What’s so difficult about almost relationships is that it’s having to break up with things you that CAN’T just refer to, accept, separate, and unplug from: your thoughts, hopes, imagination, and dreams of everything that could have been.

How to let go of an almost relationship:

Print out, read, and re-read these bullet points…

  • You deserve so.much.more than feeling ALMOST good enough for someone.
  • Feeling like you’re ALMOST loved, cherished, respected, and valued is a hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
  • Feeling like your partner ALMOST, only has eyes for you? No thanks.
  • You are worth SO.MUCH.MORE than being ALMOST exclusive with someone – no matter how amazing they seem or how intense and passionate the sex is.
  • You deserve so much more than someone who can ALMOST commit.
  • Being ALMOST honest with yourself and having an ALMOST honest partner is NOT what genuine openness and honesty is ever about.
  • Being ALMOST practical, but falling short and continuing to subscribe to your fantasies is NOT a relationship.
  • Being in an ALMOST relationship – whether it’s ALMOST connected, ALMOST empathetic, ALMOST together, or ALMOST faithful should never, EVER be good enough for you.
  •  You are so much more than a contender. REMEMBER: You’re only going to settle for being in an ALMOST relationship if deep down, you still feel like you’re ALMOST (but not quite), enough.

Big love to you all.

Written by: Natasha Adamo

If you’re looking for further and more specific help; if you’re tired of waiting to be chosen and ready to choose yourself, personalized coaching with Natasha Adamo is the answer. Book your one-on-one session today.

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Author of Win Your Breakup, Natasha Adamo

About Natasha Adamo

Natasha Adamo is a globally recognized self-help author, relationship guru, and motivational speaker. With over 2.5 million devoted blog readers and clients in thirty-one countries, she is a beacon of inspiration to many. Her debut bestseller, "Win Your Breakup", offers a unique perspective on personal growth after breakups. Natasha's mission is to empower individuals to develop healthier relationships and actualize their inherent potential.

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