The one that got away: Rachel Hirons

'I came to realise the extent of her innocence, and decided against being the one to corrupt it'

Initially, I believed that notion of "the one that got away" didn't really apply to me, as once I've "got them", their reasons for "getting away" are often perfectly valid. After six break-ups, I can pretty much sing-a-long to the inevitable speech of "you're impossible… completely self absorbed", or, as my most recent ex put it, "genuinely insane and in need of professional help". So this isn't a tale of someone "getting away", rather a confession about someone whom I didn't "get" in the first place.

On my first day of university, I stood in a queue to collect my student ID card, which would enable me to open various establishment doors – a card I would lose two days later, resulting in me spending three years waiting next to said doors. But I didn't know that then, so I was queuing. Three people ahead, I saw a girl – the sort of girl so incredibly attractive that it makes you genuinely question how and when we evolved far enough for someone to look like that. In little time, I had introduced myself, made her laugh and complimented her. I was pretty certain I had her wooed. I found out her name – Harriet – and, before the week was out, I'd found out a lot more: she was 18, fairly quiet (as English was her second language) and, due to the fact that she had never had a romantic relationship, a job or seemingly gone to bed beyond 10pm, entirely unworldly.

As the weeks went by, I came to realise the extent of her innocence, and decided against being the one to corrupt it. Instead, we became the best of friends, and four months later, the day-to-days of university life meant that she had successfully managed to corrupt herself anyway. Having concluded long ago that anything beyond friendship was off-limits, I entertained her with my "hilarious anecdote" of how and why we came to meet in the first place.

She laughed, and thought me "hysterical" – which was all well and good until two weeks later, when she revealed, "So I've thought about what you said and... I wanna sleep with you, too."

Well, this was unexpected. But just as I was about to whisk her back to my mouse-infested squalor of student accommodation for a night of passion overheard by the eight people I lived with, I decided to play the "good Samaritan" card, giving her a little speech about how I wanted her to be sure. We were good friends now and I didn't want her to feel awkward because of some "drunken, experimental whim". I smugly told her that she wasn't a lesbian and, while she was free to experiment, it would be careless to do it with me.

She had her experiment all right. In fact, she went on to "experiment" for the next seven years with a multitude of different women, informing me – in detail – of every aspect of her relationships. Now engaged to her current girlfriend, the pair have set a date for early next year. As her best friend, my role is that of maid of honour. I once told Harriet how she will never know for sure whether it's actually me she should marry. She said she did know – because I'm too self-absorbed and clearly in need of professional help.

• Do you have one that got away? Send your story of lost love to and we'll publish the best.

Rachel Hirons

The GuardianTramp

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