5 Lessons That Your Failed Relationships Can Teach You About Yourself And Life

Breakups suck. Period. If you were committed to the relationship. If you tried…if you stretched yourself even a little bit for the sake of the relationship….if you truly gave of yourself in the relationship, the break up will suck regardless of who initiated it. It doesn’t have to be an entirely sucky situation though.

5 lessons from failed relationships

Most adults can relate to having a relationship that didn’t work. NO matter how recent or far back the breakup was or what your current relationship status is, there are some powerful lessons that failed relationships teach us about ourselves, about people and about life in general.

There may be some positive spins you can put on a break up that can help you not only get through it, but help you really learn about yourself and prevent you from sabotaging future relationships. All of these may not apply to everyone (especially because people break up for different reasons and people are in different stages of the healing) but hopefully there are a few things here that resonate with you. Here we go:

1. You are more concerned than you think (or are willing to admit) about “what people will say”:

On the surface, it feels so good when we hear ourselves say out loud that “We don’t care what people will say”. However, in practice, we care more than we think. Think about that breakup. If it was a relationship that no one knew about…your friends didn’t know about, your family didn’t know about, you didn’t have the same circle of friends, you hadn’t introduced them to your coworkers, the pain would have been a bit more bearable right?…but the thought of facing everyone… explain over and over again what happened and looking vulnerable…that just escalates our pain. The truth of the matter is that we do care what people think about us more than we admit.

Now…this is not a bad thing in of itself. A healthy…balanced dose of that can be good.

Here is the lesson to extract from that knowledge:

The solution is not to entirely stop caring what ANYONE thinks about you, the solution is to INCLUDE YOURSELF in that list of people whose opinion (of you)matters… and to be selective about the others on that list.

In other words:

A) Don’t be so concerned about what people will say, that you forget to consider what’s best for you (if you initiated the breakup) or what will help you focus on healing (if you were broken up with)
B) Reduce the size of the list of people whose opinion truly matters.

2. Lovers are important…but so is family and good friends:

You’ve been there…you fall in love, and suddenly your family and friends can’t get you on the phone anymore. You fall in love and all your emotional and mental energy is spent processing this new person that you forget friends and the people in your life who were your support before…until the breakup happens and you realize that it’s so good to have a shoulder to cry on. You realize that good friends are there for you…you realize you can go home for your favorite meal and just be loved by family. You realize you can talk to that sibling and just lay out how you feel.

Here is the lesson to extract from that knowledge:

Sure…fall in love….but try not to lose friends and family because of it. That’s not so say that your family will always totally approve of your relationship choices or that your partner will always endorse your friends/family, but YOU must look out for the interests that matter in that equation and to what degree.

A new lover, wife, or husband doesn’t eradicate the need for your family and good friends in your life.

3. You are stronger than you think…really:

Sure…you thought your life was over. You thought you’ll never find another…you thought you’ll never be able to carry on. But here you are. Air has not decided to stop flowing from your lungs and you’ve moved on much better than you thought. Sure your plans may have been altered but your world did not collapse.

I dated someone a few years before I got married. She was a great person and she didn’t do anything to offend me…but for reasons I can’t go into here, I had to break it off. She didn’t take it so well. She didn’t take it well at all and I don’t blame her. She was hurt but when she articulated what the effect of the breakup would be on her life, I hated myself for months. I felt so guilty. Then I heard that she was married just after a year later. I was happy for her but I couldn’t help thinking “Wow…I guess I didn’t shatter your life totally after all …”

Here is the lesson to extract from that knowledge: (I say this from a dating standpoint not from a marriage standpoint because the stakes are much higher in a marriage context)

The totality of your essence is not defined by your relationship, the person you are with, or your relationship status. That’s important to know so that if things go south in that area of your life, you remember that the event of a break up doesn’t define the rest of your life.

4. The future of a relationship is not determined by the passion of today:

Think about that. Think about the beginning of that relationship. How the relationship probably looked unstoppable. You thought “Why do they say relationships are hard? Being in love and in a relationship is not even that difficult at all!”…until it starts to hit its rocky moments.

The passion of today doesn’t determine or guarantee that a relationship will last tomorrow. TWEET THAT

Passionate lovers can passionately break up.

Relationships take work. Sometimes hard work. Meaning that we are pushed far outside of ourselves and our comfort zones.

A Relationships is certainly like a flower. It can be INCREDIBLY beautiful today and yet turn VERY ugly tomorrow if it doesn’t have the right nutrients and environment. Tobi Atte. TWEET THAT

Here is the lesson to extract from that knowledge:

Never Ever rely on the passion of yesterday to sustain your relationship today and tomorrow.

Always keep your passion, goodwill, compassion, care, friendship current….refreshing it as often as you can.

5. Relationships cannot make you much happier than you already are:

There is something called Affective Forecasting in psychology. It is basically our tendency to predict what our affect (emotions) in a future situation or scenario.

So for example someone says: When I get married, I will be happy. Or If I lost my job, I would be devastated.

Well, psychologists have proven that we actually do poorly at predicting our future emotions.

Why is this? Well, turns out that we think that those future events will change who we fundamentally are and that’s not true. Sure those events will have an effect on us but over time, our emotions tend to settle closer to what it was before that event.

So take Julie for example, who on a scale of 0-20 (20 being the happiest) registers a 7 (meaning she is not a very happy person). She says “when I get married I’ll be sooo much happier. OMG I’ll probably register a 15 on the scale of happiness. Well, according to research on Affective Forecasting, Julie may indeed register a 15 on the happiness scale when she gets married and maybe even for a while. But after some time, her happiness will come back to settle closer to the 7 she originally was before marriage event.

Here is the lesson to extract from that knowledge:

(A) That failed relationship did not take your happiness away. Maybe your happiness within yourself wasn’t all the way there before.
(B) On the flip side, and for the same reason as mentioned above, that failed relationship cannot take your happiness away. While you may be hurting now, you WILL get over it …how do I know this? Because you’re probably doing better right now than you thought you’d be doing when you first broke up.

Again, I know that the stakes are higher in marriage situations and that you all be reading this at different levels of hurt. Hopefully though, you’re able to take one or two lessons from those relationships that didn’t survive, and use them to make you stronger, more centered, and better prepared for the next one.

You are worth loving. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it :o)

So…what are some other amazing life lessons you have learnt from break-ups in the past? Someone might benefit from your perspective. Share below in discussion.