#874: The #1 Requirement For Someone Being “The One” For You

Dear Captain Awkward,

Met this girl through her uncle, have known her for
Over 20 months, we’ve met a couple of times, nothing much happened, but used to keep ourselves updated over texts, she asked me out for dinner or lunch a couple of times, I had important things to address at that point of time, nor was I sure about my feelings towards her, it’s been six months since she moved to Australia for her education, that’s when I realised she’s the one, i’m not active much on social media, don’t keep my profile updated, and I did confess to her about me liking her, she said it was overwhelming but she isn’t into anyone now and wishes to focus on her career and has a lot going on her plate now, and since then she says she’s busy with all her things back there, but i see she’s got a pretty happening life making new guy friends and isn’t as busy as she’d told me that she is, with all her assessments and assignments, according to her social media updates, when I’m back here in India, wasting my time thinking about her, she’s back in town but hasn’t kept me informed, got to know this through social media too, and I have no idea what she thinks about me, because the moment I told her I like her, she tried avoiding, when I stopped completely she checked on me a couple of times by leaving me texts and when I replied acting like nothing ever happened, I feel she’s brushed me off, saying she’s got her semester exams going, and is currently in town meeting all her friends here, and we’re twenty years old, please do not ask me to refer a forum! 😛 Thank you.


Dear R.

You say: “I have no idea what she thinks about me.

But you do have some idea, in that you told this girl you had feelings for her and she a) said it was “overwhelming” and she was “not into anyone right now” (‘anyone’ includes you) b) pulled back from interacting with you, including not making plans to meet up when she was back in town and c) you feel (correctly) like she’s “brushed you off” because she’s acting like nothing ever happened.

Whatever her feelings way back when you first met, she does not think of you as a romantic possibility, if/when she thinks about you at all. Nobody can be “the one” romantic partner for you unless they want to be. Someone can check every box on your dream partner wishlist and have great chemistry with you and everyone who knows you both could agree that you would be just perfect together and and and and…. it’s still not gonna happen unless they want to be with you. It’s just not a decision you can make unilaterally without the full and enthusiastic participation of the other person. If this woman wanted to be with you, you’d know, because she’d be telling you that she returns your feelings and she would make sure to spend time with you. She’s not doing any of those things. She is texting you to say “hi”, like she would for any friend. Remove the Wishful Thinking goggles and look clearly at her actions and words.

It’s time for you to:

a) Listen to the Statistically Accurate Love Song.

b) Stop monitoring her activities on social media. Her friendships and free time are not really your business, and it’s just making you anxious and jealous.

c) Make some plans with your friends and try to meet some new people.

d) When you find yourself thinking about her, try to distract yourself. Acknowledge the thought and then imagine it floating away like a little cloud or popping like a balloon.

e) Be nice to yourself and give it time to feel better.

Letter Writer, when you told her how you felt, you did a cool, brave thing. Rejection hurts, and the anxiety and loss you are feeling is real. Most of us have been there many awkward, painful times, and we learn over time that it’s not the end of the world. I promise you that you will be fine in time if you can let this woman go and stop obsessing. One person not wanting to be with you isn’t a statement about your value; plenty of people will be happy to get to know you and eventually some of them will appreciate your affection and loyalty and be happy to return those feelings and meet someone like you who is not afraid to put his feelings out there. The longer you stay fixated on this one girl, the longer it will take you to find them.

With love and good wishes from the other side of the world,

Captain Awkward






25 thoughts on “#874: The #1 Requirement For Someone Being “The One” For You

  1. Hang in there, letter writer! I had plenty of disappointments on the way to finding “the one” (with whom I’ve been married for 14 years). You are young. You are super cool for expressing your feelings. Keep being a kind, considerate person, keep pursuing your interests, keep building new friendships, and you will land on your feet..eventually holding hand with the right partner. 🙂

  2. Hi, R.!
    I’m very sorry to tell you this, but the Captain is right: this woman has rejected you as a romantic partner. It’s *very* unlikely that she will change her mind about that. Getting rejected hurts, so it’s alright to feel upset, or sad, or even angry. You cannot control what you feel.

    What you can control, however, is how you act on your feelings. Closely following this woman’s life on social media won’t bring you peace or ease your feelings. She’s concentrating on living her life, and you don’t have a big place in it. What you have, however, is your own life: your studies, your work, your friendships, your family, your city or town… that’s where you get to live. That’s where you can find your place to shine. Please concentrate on living your own life: spend time with people who love your company as much as you love theirs, make the most out of your studies and/or job, maybe start a hobby you’ve always wanted to pursue or meet cool new people… and with some time and other things to keep your mind off her, your hurt feelings will heal.

    In short: I agree with the Captain in that right now you need to distance yourself from this woman (unfollow her on social media, or hide her stories in your neewsfeed. Block her for a couple of months if you need to) and make space in your life for you and the things that make you happy.
    Best wishes,

  3. LW – it’s hard, but one day you will meet someone who reciprocates your feelings, and all the false starts and rejections will fade into the past.

    Throw yourself into becoming the best you that you can be. Read, travel, get involved in community projects, broaden your horizons, and meet new people. Ease up on the social media for a while, and I hope you’re feeling happier soon

  4. All agree with the Captain, LW! You’ve put yourself out there (nice work, ’cause it’s hard) and she’s done her best to politely say, “no thank you,” and you’ve got to hear that and step back.

    The advice to block or hide her on social media is right on, for a few reasons. As the Captain and previous commenters have said, it’s important for you: you need to focus on your life, not hers. You’ll be more likely to meet someone who digs you if your eyes are up, facing your world instead of trained on the social media life of someone who isn’t interested.

    The second reason for blocking or hiding her on social media is more to do with this gal herself. I’m not sure if she’s been able to “see” you following her on social media – whether or not you react to her posts, comment on things, etc – but on the chance that you do, I want to put this out there. Social media can create this strange feeling of being watched – and granted, we often agree to it by “friending” or “following” someone – and that strange feeling can be exacerbated when the person who is watching us has expressed their romantic interest and we have told them no. I say “we” here because it has happened to many folks, regardless of gender, although my experience as a woman obviously informs much of this. There is a fine line between “staying friends with someone on social media after a failed romantic encounter” and “keeping track of someone and monitoring their life after a failed romantic encounter.” The line is hard to see and can look different depending on whether you’re the one who said “no thanks” or the one who heard it.

    I’m not implying that you’re harassing or being aggressive online with this girl. There’s nothing in your letter to directly indicate that you’re commenting on her photos of her and new male friends or sending her messages that imply she lied when she said she was busy. The line, though, is right there, very close to what you’re describing, so I wanted to put it out there so you can see it. Like I said, it can be hard to see.

    All the more reason to step out of her social media life for a while. It shows her that you respect what she has said and you clearly heard her “no thanks” when she said it. It also keeps you far away from the line – the one that can be so easily crossed when we’re feeling hurt, confused, lonely, or sad.

    Look up, see what’s happening in your own life, and make sure this lady is getting the space and respect you both deserve.

    Best of luck.

  5. LW, I’m trying to save my best friend from himself, because he’s doing a lot of similar things. He’s fixated on This Lady and attaching all his hopes to her, so that when she isn’t interested, it feels like a crushing rejection. He bemoans that she’s Just So Perfect For Him and that He’s The Perfect Guy For Her… except she doesn’t share those feelings.

    I feel like this should be pretty obvious, except a lot of people (including me at one time!) don’t understand it, so:

    If someone were The One for you, they wouldn’t reject you. If they were The One, y’all would be dating. But you’re not.

    I should tell you that I don’t believe in The One. I think there’s the .75 and the .82 and the .90 that you round up to 1, and that’s what love is.

    This lady has been super clear about what she wants, to wit Not You. She just hasn’t come out and said it, because, I’m betting, all her life she’s been told it’s rude. But she’s been crystal clear. She avoids you. She isn’t keeping you updated. She pulled back from you as soon as as you confessed your feelings. She’s not interested.

    So feel sorry for yourself and nurse your wounds for awhile (not long!) and then go out and meet other ladies. I guarantee there are some awesome ladies where you are, and they want to meet you. Go find them. Good luck!

    1. “I think there’s the .75 and the .82 and the .90 that you round up to 1, and that’s what love is.”

      I love this analogy and if you don’t object I’m totally stealing it. My maths-brain immediately leapt upon it and has pretty much extended it to cover the entirety of romantic love and the various pitfalls thereof in about 2 seconds 🙂

      1. I think it’s a Dan Savage-ism originally? People have all kinds of opinions about him, which I understand, but a lot of what he says is really valuable.

  6. You say “when I stopped completely” which implies that when she rejected you, you backed off. Good! That was a good impulse and the right thing to do, both for her and for you. It’s painful to be rejected, and even more miserable to be by yourself obsessing over someone who doesn’t reciprocate — sadly I know this misery very well. The best thing you can do for yourself is keep yourself busy, give yourself other things to think about and opportunities to meet other people. I’m rooting for you!

  7. When you tell someone that you like them romantically, and they respond by saying they are very busy and then start avoiding you, they are sending a clear message. That message is “I don’t feel the same way about you at all, but I’m trying to spare your feelings.”

    Absorb that message and then take some time to feel sad about it. As the Captain suggests, be nice to yourself. Spend a day in bed. Watch or read something familiar and comforting. Listen to your favourite songs about unrequited love. Cry about it if you need to. If you can, grab an understanding and supportive friend and say, “Hey friend, I’m really sad about this girl – will you listen to me obsess over her for an hour or two and make sympathetic noises? I’ll provide the beer/coffee/food!”

    (I always do this after rejection, and it’s really helpful – I don’t feel like I’m dumping all over my friend because I’ve told them the purpose of the conversation in advance and it allows me to get the whole thing out of my system in one exhaustive purging session.)

    Once you’ve taken some time to mourn, pick yourself and move on. A crush can become the centre of your world, to the extent that you lose sight of all the other things in your life that are good and fun and fulfilling. What if you took all the time you spend staring at her social media accounts and started putting it towards a goal you’ve always wanted to achieve?

    Going forward in your romantic life, let go of the idea of “The One”. There is no one single person destined for each of us. You are twenty years old, which means you’ve still got a whole life full of romance and, yes, heartbreak ahead of you. If you can start learning how to cope with the latter with dignity and grace, you’re going to have a much happier and healthier love life overall.

    Good luck, LW, and I promise you’re going to be fine!

    1. I love your advice of giving some time to grieve over what will never be. That’s a great step that is necessary before moving on.

      LW, I am cheering for you. Someone else is out there for you. It’s a numbers game. Eventually you will find them. Hang in there.

    2. When you tell someone that you like them romantically, and they respond by saying they are very busy and then start avoiding you, they are sending a clear message. That message is “I don’t feel the same way about you at all, but I’m trying to spare your feelings.”

      Indeed. If you look up “soft no” in the (hypothetical One True) dictionary, this woman’s behavior is the illustration in the margin.

  8. LW, you were so courageous to tell this lady that you had Feelings for her. You did a difficult thing but you were true to yourself. Bravo! She has told you by her actions that she isn’t interested. Now, use your courage to move on. Very few of us find the perfect partner early in life. Date a lot of people so you don’t limit yourself to an image of perfection because there is no such thing. Best wishes and a hug if you want it.

  9. Dear LW:

    You were brave and honest telling your acquaintance that you were interested in her romantically. Go you!

    As you now know, and as the Captain pointed out, the single most important quality your ideal partner must have is the desire to be with you.

    The young woman who interests you doesn’t have that desire, so she is not a suitable partner for you.

    So I want to add two things.

    1. Keep working on making friends and acquaintances. They will enrich your life.

    2. For most people, there are many potential great partners. Your courage and openness convince me that you will find someone who is as interested in you as you are in her.

  10. I was really, really hoping that song was at the other side of that link – and i was so thrilled when it was! Once you get over how hilarious it is (very) i think it is so romantic. There is something about being totally honest about your love without exaurating or idealizeing that comes across as so much more genuine than any number of songs or poems about having only one possible love.

    Anyway – encouraging everyone to follow the link!

  11. “i see she’s got a pretty happening life making new guy friends and isn’t as busy as she’d told me that she is, with all her assessments and assignments, according to her social media updates”

    How lovely for her! As her friend, it must be nice to see her succeeding and finding community. Perhaps you can take a cue from her and focus on fostering your own community where you are currently.

  12. because the moment I told her I like her, she tried avoiding, when I stopped completely she checked on me a couple of times by leaving me texts and when I replied acting like nothing ever happened, I feel she’s brushed me off

    I would just like to point out that you may be thinking about this sequence of events like a cause and effect and conclude that the ~message here is mixed. I really really suggest you don’t. This woman could have many reasons for the timing and quality of her response, but you’re likely to view it in the way you most want: that there is a chance. The best thing you can take from this is that if she wanted to date you, she’d definitively let you know and that any other interaction is at best friendly.

  13. As others have said, what you go there was a soft no. Probably, she liked you as a friend, but wasn’t at all interested in you romantically, but didn’t want to hurt your feelings. So for future reference, being turned down with complaints about being busy, not really into a relationship now, etc, followed by backing away, is actually a very firm no. If you were in the same area, with a similar social circle, there’s a good chance she’d see you acting normally after being turned down, and the friendship would settle back into its old form, but with a couple of continents distance, there’s less chance for that. If you do see her at a party, do your best to act normally, ask how classes are going, and otherwise be platonically friendly.

    Another thing is that long distance relationships are advanced level dating. It’s very possible for their to be mutual liking and attraction, and for both people to really want to be together, and still have the relationship crash and burn due solely to the lack of face to face contact.

    As an aside – I’ve been in the situation where I’ve asked someone out that I’ve fallen for, and gotten a soft no, and then had the person be *more* attentive than before, to the point that mutual friends were telling me that he was interested in me (I’m notoriously oblivious to being hit on). That, ultimately, hurt a lot more than having him avoid me for a while would have.

    And add me to the people who don’t believe in The One. I like the concept of “A One”. “A One” is someone who you are attracted to and like as a person, and they feel the same about you, you’re generally compatible in life style and goals, and you meet up when you’re both in a place where you can have a healthy relationship. They’re not common, but there’s more than potential One out there for any given person. And, as the Captain said, someone who isn’t interested in you is never A One.

  14. Dear LW: when getting over her, you might also want to consider whether or not you actually liked her, or whether you liked the fictional person with her face that you created in your head. You said you’ve only met her a few times, so you don’t know her very well, and when you were around her, you were pretty ambivalent about her. All your strong romantic feelings for “her” developed in the six months you weren’t even around her.

    So what exactly was happening in those six months that made you change your mind? What happened to make you develop deeper feelings for her? It probably wasn’t learning more about her or sharing more experiences with her, because she wasn’t there. Most likely, ‘The One’ that you have feelings for isn’t really her, but the “her” that’s you’ve been imagining and creating in your head for the past six months. That doesn’t mean that your feelings aren’t real, mind you, but rather that the object of your feelings is partly fictional.

    So yeah, echoing what CA said, feel your feelings, but disconnect a bit from her social media and work on meeting more people.

    1. Word! This happens to me sometimes, when I hit a low or lonely spot in my life, my mind drifts back to my last decent date and goes “omg HE WAS CLEARLY PERFECT FOR YOU AND YOU LET HIM GET AWAY YOU IDIOT WHAT HAVE YOU DONE” then proceeds to construct an elaborate fantasy of what our life together would have been like if I hadn’t been so foolishly indifferent at the time.

      LW, this is really natural and happens to a lot of people, but it’s important to recognize those feelings for what they are (i.e. jerkbrain inventing regrets for you) and understand that they’re probably a symptom of you not feeling particularly good about your life in general right now. All the more reason to follow the Captain’s advice; be nice to yourself, hang out with your friends, distract yourself with projects and activities that involve getting out of the house and meeting new people.

    2. I was about to say exactly this. Instead, practical tip: one the ways I got over an unreasonable crush like this was to keep reminding myself that I didn’t actually know him that well. What would happen when I found out that he liked cauliflower/listened to the Osmonds/voted for LaRouche/loathed Kahty Griifin? DISASTER. There’s as equal a chance that she likes or does something you absolutely cannot abide as there is that She’s The One.

      Also, no disrespect meant to Griffin-hatin,’ cauliflower-eatin’, Osmond-lovin’, Communists out there. You are who you are and you deserve respect; it’s just not what would work for me personally in a romantic partner.

  15. It feels very bad when someone brushes you off, but it’s something you really can’t do anything to help. If you say to her “why are you brushing me off, it’s not fair”, she will very correctly be freaked out and uncomfortable and angry and not want anything to do with you. (Absolutely don’t do this.) Basically, there is no option which gets you the positive attention from her that you are looking for, so you just have to deal with your feelings of disappointment, missing out and general sadness over rejection in other ways.

    I am no longer in my twenties at all. I look back on the people I obsessed over, the people I thought I could not live without, etc, and my primary feeling is regret that I spent so much emotional energy on them. I wish I could have said to myself “so this person doesn’t want to go out with me, okay, instead of brooding I am going to do the most fun thing I possibly can right now”. I wish I’d said, “so this person doesn’t want to go out with me, I’m going to take a class in something interesting and learn a new skill”. I wish I’d said, “I’m going to forget about something that can never happen and spend time on interesting stuff for myself”.

    Even the person I thought was absolutely the One, someone I feel deeply in love with after actually knowing them for a while – well, I look back and I see that they weren’t the One, they were just one of many. I don’t regret those deep feelings, but I do regret spending so much time, well, regretting.

    Don’t waste your early twenties wishing and hoping over someone who isn’t interested in you. You will look back later and think “that girl was certainly a nice person, but it wasn’t the end of the world that we didn’t go out – I can’t understand why I was so upset”.

  16. Haven’t seen this comment yet-> Please don’t try to mitigate R’s pain with the condolence that “there’s someone out there better for you.”
    1) grow as You, not as you-in-prep-for The One
    2) we shouldn’t try to get through/ over a painful experience by searching for the next one
    3) actually, there might Not be someone else

    1. Totally agree with this. Getting over someone doesn’t mean finding someone new. Like you said, sometimes there isn’t someone else, and that shouldn’t stop R. from getting over this person.

      Also, being single is not an inherently bad thing. It can sometimes be lonely, but (in my experience at least) one of the worst things about it is other people’s ideas that you need to be in a romantic relationship to be happy. Being single itself is actually pretty okay, and way better than being with someone who you don’t actually like or who doesn’t like you.

  17. The one thing that struck me was that when she asked you out, you were involved in other stuff and didn’t seem interested until she was on a whole other continent. So she might be wary of your feelings being somewhat mutable given they only surfaced when she was too far away to do much about them.

    That is something for you to consider too. Are you maybe just developing a crush since it’s safe given the distance between you?

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