You had such big dreams for the two of you. You were ready to make a big commitment. You thought you’d grow old together. But then your offer on the house didn’t go through. You lost out. You won’t be buying that perfect-for-you place. You won’t be cooking in the all-white modern farmhouse-style kitchen or planting roses in the lushly sodded and fenced yard. You’re no better off than when you started, in the same digs you wanted to leave last year. When you lose out on a house you wanted, the heartbreak is real. It’s the real estate version of being ghosted right when you started scouting honeymoon spots. Here is how to deal with heartache—and all of its many symptoms—when the house that was supposed to be “it” turns out to be just another listing.
Symptom: Your head (and friends) know it was “just” a house, but your heart huuuuuurts.
Solution: Go and feel all your feels.
Don’t hold that nasty stuff in. Don’t pretend it’s no big deal. Let yourself feel everything—the disappointment, frustration, and the empty feeling of wondering what might have been. Cry it out. Scream it out. Find a punching bag and take it out. You’re mourning a lost dream. It’s legit. It’s OK to lie in a fetal position and tearfully binge-watch House Hunters. Or The Hulk. You do you.
Symptom: Can’t. Stop. Refreshing. Listing.
Solution: Take some me time.
Do the one thing you wanted to do in your relationship, but didn’t. When you were house hunting, did you save every spare dollar for your down payment? And never leave town in case you missed a great listing or the chance to make an offer? It’s time for a getaway. Treat yourself. You will get a house that’s perfect for you at some point, but you need to get out of your head for a minute. Remember: when one door closes, another opens—and it’ll stay propped until you’re back from your weekend away with a few mojitos.
Symptom: You accidentally keep driving by.
Solution: Stay away from reminders.
Don’t drive by the house to see if it’s marked pending or if a moving van is in the driveway. Don’t even drive by the neighborhood or that awesome little coffee shop that was just down the street where you had already imagined yourself lounging on weekends with an espresso con panna. And take it out of your Favorites on Trulia so you don’t see it every time you log on. You don’t want to obsess over what might have been.
Symptom: You realize life before the house dream…kind of sucked.
Solution: Restock your life with people
Let’s be real for a minute and recognize that it was just one house (too soon?). Sometimes we attach ourselves to any dream that feels like a needed change. So change your world in another way. Call your friends. Reconnect with old ones. Meet (gasp!) new people. Step outside of your comfort zone and try meeting a new friend at the gym or a painting class.
Symptom: Real talk? You regret ever seeing that damn place.
Solution: Learn from the heartache.
Anger’s fine. Totally normal. Try to see an ended relationship as a lesson, not a failure. What worked and what didn’t with that home buying process? What might help you have a better shot at success next time? Be honest. Did you go too low? Can you live with two bedrooms instead of three? Can you really afford that hot neighborhood, or are you trying to punch above your weight? It could be time to look for different traits in a house so the two of you will succeed as a couple.
Symptom: You think it’s time to get back in the house hunting game. But you also can’t even.
Solution: Get back out there.
When you’re ready, know that it’s okay to test the waters again. When you really start looking at just how many homes are for sale, you might start wondering how you got so fixated on just one anyway. Whether it’s setting up a search on a home search site or with your trusted agent for houses in that perfect neighborhood, or dropping by an open house you spotted online, get back in the game. Not every listing has to be perfect for you to check it out. Just look. Keep dreaming about the place you want, and “the one” will eventually open the door.