When You Find Yourself Getting Caught Up in the What Could’ve Beens

I hooked up with a guy on the 1 train. Literally.

Channelle ont he subway platform.
Channelle on the subway platform.

There we were standing on the platform, and I couldn’t help but notice him. It was rush hour in New York City and when the train arrived there was hardly enough room for new passengers. I managed to inch myself in as the doors miraculously closed behind me. I was glad to find myself crammed up next to the tall, handsome man.

The handsome stranger and his friends were cracking jokes, and I’d give a laugh here and there. My stop came too quickly. And as I tried to navigate through the sea of people to the opposite doors, the anchor charm on my necklace hooked onto this handsome guy’s knitted scarf!

“Oh! ahhh we’re hooked together!” I shout with a mixture of joy and embarrassment.

There was no knowing when the train doors would close, so we frantically attempted to unhook ourselves from each other. In a chivalrous gesture, he walked toward the exit with me so I wouldn’t be stuck on the train in the chance that we were unable to detach from one another before the door closed. After picking away at this stubborn knot for some time we finally got unhooked just before the train doors shut. I looked up at him and we exchanged this gaze of curiosity and wonder at this happy little accident. Then the doors closed. The train left. And we went our separate ways.

I’m a sucker for romance, so it wasn’t odd for me to walk away with my mind full of what ifs. What if he had asked for my number? What if we exchanged some cheesy line? What if he asked me to dinner? The hopeless romantic in me pines for that rare second chance at a proper introduction. I think that same wishful thinking mindset also causes me to hold onto failed flings or past relationships.

I know this happens to many of us out there. Perhaps we have gone on dates here and there and gotten to know many different “potentials.” Maybe we’ve had a serious relationship or two. But something didn’t go entirely right and the relationships end. If you’re anything like me, you might over-analyze the “why” and get caught up in an imaginary world of what ifs.

Does the whole “What if I had done this…” thought pattern sound familiar? While it’s good to learn from mistakes made in relationships, we don’t do ourselves any good holding onto the idea of a person on whom the doors have already been closed.

The guy on the train and I shared this brief interaction, this pure and quite literal connection. But while it’s fun to delight in that little moment that is now a fun story to tell, it would be foolish of me to pine away for him and to be disheartened by nothing coming of it. This same perspective is also helpful when it comes to men I have dated and shared great memories with in the past. I can’t keep wondering about the potential of a future relationship with someone who didn’t exactly treat me like he should have.

While we’re single we should spend our energy looking forward to spending a lifetime with our future spouse—not dwelling in the past and what ifs.

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