3 Lessons You Should Learn from Your Relationship Ending
A bad breakup can be soul-crushingly painful. You feel like you’ve lost your best friend, and you tend to keep replaying things in your head, questioning the relationship’s end. But rather than focusing on the pain or any regrets you might have, I’ve found it can be helpful to consider what the relationship has taught you.
Whether you were with your partner for less than a year or were married to them for over a decade, there are a few very important things that you should seek to learn from nearly any breakup:
#1. Learn from what went wrong.
You should try to understand what led to your relationship falling apart. Maybe even take a moment and make a list of things that contributed to the relationship ending. Try to be honest with yourself in exploring why it didn’t work out.
A key part of this process is to make sure you take ownership of any ways in which you personally may have contributed to the breakup. The thing is, both partners usually play some part in a relationship ending. It’s rare for it to be completely one-sided.
But before you get defensive, please understand that I’m not looking to dole out blame here. (Frankly, it’s not a constructive exercise to focus on who was at fault for the breakup or to delve into who behaved worse, etc.)
I recommend adopting this perspective simply because it’s in your best interest to do so. You can’t change the past and whatever events led to your relationship’s demise. You also can’t control what, if any, changes your ex will make going forward. The only things you do have control over are your own future decisions and actions.
For that reason, it’s important to recognize what mistakes you may have made in your relationship so you can avoid repeating them in the future with someone else.
Perhaps this breakup enabled you to discover that you have some emotional triggers you might need to work on addressing. Or maybe it helped highlight some negative patterns or habits that you’d like to shed. Maybe you found that you weren’t taking enough time for yourself and would like to do a better job of prioritizing your own needs going forward.
In sum, all I’m asking you to do is reflect a bit on what went wrong in your relationship and to own your part in the breakup. Because if you don’t own whatever part you may have played in it, you won’t be able to learn and grow from it to become a better version of yourself.
#2. Learn how to let go & love yourself again.
You need to let go of the past in order to truly honor the present and consciously move forward in life.
So once your relationship is over, accept that it’s over. Don’t waste your time or energy trying to deny or alter that reality. Forgive your partner, forgive yourself, and move on.
The more you hold on to or cling to something in life, the less likely you will be to get what you want. So let go. You’ll find that the act of letting go will set you free.
Then, once you’ve let go, rediscover what lights you up and makes you happy. Rediscover who you are independent of your ex and the relationship. Explore. Play. Get out there and live fully and wholeheartedly.
Spend some time getting lost in you. Fall back in love with yourself. And be careful to avoid looking for external validation. Find any validation you seek internally instead.
Remember that you are all you need. You’re enough. And that’s beautiful.
#3. Learn what you want out of your next relationship.
Granted, you don’t need to go through a breakup to figure out what you might want from a future relationship. But after you’ve been single for a while, you can sometimes start to lose sight of what you ideally want (...or start lowering your standards, but that’s a topic for another post).
Conversely, in the wake of a breakup, you’re more likely to have clarity on what you really like and dislike and what you want more or less of. Take advantage of this period by reflecting on your experience in the past relationship and noting what you’d like in your next relationship.
Here are some potential things for you to consider:
What are some of the most important traits that you want (or don’t want) in a partner?
Would you like more regular physical affection in your next relationship?
What deal breakers or boundaries would you like to create and establish for yourself going forward that would make you happier in your relationship?
Do you feel like you were criticized too much or that maybe you were too critical of your partner in your previous relationship?
Was your last partner too needy or too independent for you?
Do you want to set higher standards for how you’re treated by your next partner?
Would you like to commit to putting yourself first in your go-forward relationships?
[As a tip, if you haven’t read it before, I would also recommend grabbing a copy of Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages. Take the quiz to identify your dominant love language (the primary way that you express and experience love) so you’ll be able to communicate and share that information with your next partner.]
There are generally two different approaches you can take when something bad happens in life: (a) you can choose to dwell in the pain and negativity that you’re sometimes dealt, or (b) you can seek to learn and grow from your hardships.
After a breakup, it’s completely fine to allow yourself to have a grieving period and to take some time to mourn the end of your relationship. But try not to get stuck in that space for too long. And when you can, consider these lessons and see what your breakup can teach you. In doing so, you’ll grow more resilient and ultimately become a better partner to someone else.