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Find or forget the 'one who got away'?

By Audrey Irvine, CNN
More times than not, it's best to keep "the one who got away" stashed in your memories, Audrey Irvine says.
More times than not, it's best to keep "the one who got away" stashed in your memories, Audrey Irvine says.
  • Audrey Irvine remembers him -- his laugh, his smell and her butterflies
  • They had wanted different things in the lives when they first met
  • She confronted the perfect man who got away and it was painful
  • Irvine says that sometimes it's best to the one who got away as a pleasant memory
  • Dating
  • Relationships

Editor's note: Audrey Irvine is a senior assignment manager for CNN. Her experiences in the dating world inspire her "Relationship Rant" column. Check back every week for her take on dating and relationships.

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- Remember his laugh -- no matter what it was about -- made you laugh too. Remember when he entered a room you immediately felt butterflies.

You remember spending hours on the phone talking about the dream you both had for the future. You even remember how he smells in addition to the soft kisses on your forehead.

We all have experienced that person who inevitably was the one that got away.

My girlfriends and I were talking about this recently and each one of us had a story.

One recounted a guy when she was in college where they spent the entire summer together. They enjoyed long walks in the park talking about everything and nothing. They spent time at each others houses and acted like a kiddy tourists visiting all sorts of places.

He was hoping to become a doctor. She helped him study for his Medical College Admission Test. When he doubted he could finish medical school, she was the one who encouraged him. Sadly, after a misunderstanding, they went their separate ways.

Twenty years later, my friend has no regrets about where she is in life. But she longs for that day when she can tell her friend, "I'm proud of you and all that you accomplished." Yes, he became that doctor, married with two kids and from afar seems happy.

Is it better for my friend to have fond memories of that summer, which she does, or try to express that she realizes he's the one that got away. I believe that it's better to keep that memory alive in your heart instead of opening yourself up to regret.

Consider this: What if you contact that person only to realize that he has harbored resentment all these years?

I recall a time when I confronted the one that got away. We, like my friend, had that moment one year where we connected on all levels. We traveled together, talked for hours, and also discussed and debated our hopes and dreams for each other.

We were both in different places in our lives. When he was ready to settle down, I was consumed with my independence and being able to take care of myself.

Once I was ready to consider settling down, he was no longer ready for commitment, focused on his budding career.

Now, 15 years later, he and I are doing well personally and professionally. We realized that there was a time when we could have been together but we could never get the timing right.

I waited years to confront him as to why it didn't work and the truth was painful. To realize that he was holding on to what I was not able to give him when he needed it, was devastating. We have managed to realize that our time would never be and have loved each other enough to remain good friends.

Yet there are still some times when we both look at each other remembering that moment that could have been.

Sometimes it's best to leave the past in the past. Consider your moment -- whether it was a summer or a year. You decide whether it's better to confront, contemplate and dissect the reasons why, or just sit and smile over a glass of wine remembering the one that got away.