Many of us have that person we consider “The One That Got Away”—that ex, friend, or stranger you drunkenly kissed in Boracay with whom you’d live happily ever after if circumstances weren’t such a bitch. But what if you discovered that your TOTGA was actually a myth—because your feelings eventually fizzled, because you were more in love with the idea of her than the actual her, or because he turned out to be a lying SOB who would get another girl pregnant while your back was turned?
Here, we got nine people to share why they’re better off without their TOTGAs and would rather hold out for a real person than for a vague idea of a person. Slow clap, you guys.
“I found out that he had gotten another girl pregnant during the time that I waited for him.” –Joy, 24
“I had this friend I had known for a long time and became close with in college. We seldom saw each other as we belonged to different college departments, but we texted and chatted a lot. He confessed that he liked me, but I told him that it wasn’t the right time for us. He also said he’d formally court me once he had achieved his goals and become the person he wanted to be, and I believed all his promises, despite warnings from my friends that he was a fuckboy.
I later found out that he had gotten another girl pregnant during the time that I waited for him. I was heartbroken, and our friendship eventually faded.
We may have been each other’s TOTGA, but baka hindi lang talaga kami para sa isa’t isa. Hopefully he’s a changed man now.”
“He sent me a message and inamin niyang TOTGA niya ako—just as I was about to get married.” –Chloe, 32
“We were MU (‘mutual understanding,’ LOL) for four years in college. Freshmen pa lang kami, nagkatinginan na kami sa classes namin. He would watch my gigs, and hatid-sundo niya ako from my house to school, pero friends lang kami. He said he didn’t want to court me because if things didn’t work out, he didn’t want to lose me as a friend.
On my fifth year, I had a boyfriend. TOTGA was already courting someone else then, but he stopped pursuing the other girl and ayun, naghabol si kuya. But no. Napagod na ako. ‘Di na kami nagkita ulit, but I still remembered him every time I heard the songs ‘If Ain’t Got You’ and ‘Ikaw Nga.’
Six years after we graduated, he sent me a message and inamin niyang TOTGA niya ako—just as I was about to get married.
All that time akala ko TOTGA ko din siya, but hearing those two songs again after he sent me that message, I somehow felt immense joy—walang pain.”
“Over the following years, we reconnected a few more times. It never felt the same way again.” –Samantha, 31
“I had this male kabarkada back in college. He was my classmate with whom I always hung out at the library. At first we’d be with other friends, then slowly we started hanging out just the two of us. In junior year, he became my boyfriend. We thought we would end up together for the long haul; we even started planning our lives together after graduation, and we met each other’s parents.
Then suddenly a month before graduation, we broke up for no apparent reason. I cried so hard, got so upset, lost weight.
Three years later, we reconnected through a barkada get-together. Over the following years, we reconnected a few more times. It never felt the same way again.
I remember the times I cried in church, at the mall, and on public transport over him. I laugh about them now.”
“Turns out the person I loved danced to a different melody; I found him later on a dating app looking to hook up with other guys.” –Rain, 27
“I met him at the start of adulthood. At the time I was optimistic he was The One for me. We broke up as I was on a business trip and was devastated when he broke up with me via text. I loved him dearly and he became The One That Got Away.
Years later, we had the chance to rekindle the embers of young love. Again, he made me believe that he was The One for me, but he couldn’t say the same for me. Turns out the person I loved danced to a different melody; I found him later on a dating app looking to hook up with other guys.
I was devastated for the longest time, but I rose triumphant. The One That Got Away turned out to be the one I left behind.”
“Knowing he was getting married was a test of letting go for me, and I passed.” –Moira, 30
“I have this friend who moved abroad and has been living in another country since high school. He was one of my closest guy friends, and even when we were far away from each other, we’d keep in touch once in a while. Whenever he’d come back to the Philippines for a visit, we’d see each other for coffee or dinner, but I never saw the friendship bloom into a romantic one.
Fast-forward to this year, I found out he was getting married. Didn’t expect it, and didn’t expect my reaction even more. Napamura talaga ako; I went, “T*ngina, ikakasal ka na?” But of course, I gave him my congratulations.
I realized that he was my TOTGA, my friend who could’ve been something more. But those feelings faded because I knew he was happy with someone else. Knowing he was getting married was a test of letting go for me, and I passed. I didn’t fall apart. I was fine.”
“He asked me if we could pick up where we had left off. By that time, I didn’t want to anymore.” –Dee, 19
“I had a crush on him throughout high school, even though he had two girlfriends at the time while I remained single. Just as our fourth year of high school was ending, we became a couple.
Soon after we became a couple, I found out that he was moving to another city to study. He moved so abruptly that one week since he left, I hopped on a plane to see him because we hadn’t even talked about what was going to happen between us. He said that our relationship was not going to work with the distance, and I was heartbroken.
Three years later, he moved back home and asked me if we could pick up where we had left off. By that time, I didn’t want to anymore. I didn’t feel the same way anymore.
I took the idea of him as my TOTGA out of my mind because it’s just a title. Everyone—except the one you eventually end up with—is going to get away from you eventually, anyway.”
“I still see him as The One That Got Away, but I know now that I’m better off without him.” –Mike, 30
“I had an ex-boyfriend I met through a dating app. In him was everything I had been searching for that I had never found with anyone else.
We had been dating for a year when I moved to Riyadh for work. We were okay doing the LDR thing for a year, but into our second year of dating long-distance, I could feel him becoming cold. Eventually he avoided me completely, and I found out through a reliable source that he was already dating someone else.
It was tough moving on from him because he just disappeared without any form of closure. But I later realized that things were better this way. I had become so dependent on him that I could barely make decisions without consulting him. Without him, I learned to be myself again.
I still see him as The One That Got Away, but I know now that I’m better off without him.”
“I had given him the title of TOTGA because I wanted to believe that somewhere out there was a man who would love me the way I deserved to be loved.” –Nicole, 34
“When I was in high school, I had a guy friend who was in love with me throughout our time together in school. Everyone was rooting for us to be together, but somehow never ko siyang sinagot.
Ten years later and having just come from two painful back-to-back breakups, I thought about him again and wondered how differently my romantic life would’ve turned out had I given him a chance. As someone who had just been kicked to the curb for another woman, I began to see him as The One That Got Away.
He retained that spot in my life until I actually got to meet him again after more than 10 years of radio silence. All the reasons I never said yes to being his girlfriend came tumbling back.
I realized that I had given him the title of TOTGA because I was hurting and I wanted to comfort myself by believing that somewhere out there was a man who would love me the way I deserved to be loved. He wasn’t The One then, and he’s still not The One now.”
“She told me that she already had another partner. All I said was, ‘Good for you then, hope you are happy.’” –Bernard, 29
“She was my girlfriend for five years, during which I always knew she was The One.
She planned to work abroad as a nurse, and while I wanted us to stay together, I supported her decision. Upon her move abroad, we maintained constant communication for months, until it got rarer and fizzled down to nothing.
She broke up with me on our 62nd monthsary. She told me that our relationship was not going anywhere and all long-distance relationships don’t get anywhere anyway. She also told me that I didn’t have dreams.
It was hard. I became suicidal and self-destructive, and spent the two years following our breakup brooding and drowning myself in work.
One day, I discovered that she had unfriended me on Facebook. I asked her why and she told me that she already had another partner. All I said was, ‘Good for you then, hope you are happy.’
I realized then that I was free from her. I chose to become better, pursue my passions, and no longer be bogged down by notions that she was The One That Got Away.”