Breakups stink; there’s no point trying to sugar coat it. After a relationship ends, it’s easy to view it as having been a mistake or waste of time. However, learning from past relationships — no matter how painful — can guide us moving forward. For every failed relationship, there is a meaningful takeaway, even if it’s figuring out what you don’t want. Taking time to reflect on what did and didn’t work in the relationship can help you navigate your next one.
Learning from Past Relationships includes Understanding your Communication Style.
Think about your communication style throughout the relationship. How did you respond to conflict? Were you defensive, dismissive, avoidant? Was it effective, or did it worsen the situation? What could you or your ex have done differently? How did you move forward from it, both individually and together? Understanding your communication style and how you operate will set you up for success in your next relationship.
Similarly, the ability to take responsibility for your actions will go a long way. Admitting when you are wrong and holding yourself accountable demonstrates emotional maturity and a cornerstone of any healthy relationship. A serious, long-lasting relationship has little room for pettiness. While you can’t control your partner’s behavior, how you react to it is up to you. When your partner decides to pick a fight, don’t add fuel to the fire. Accept responsibility when you know you are wrong, and/or figure out how to productively communicate your opinion.
Don’t Ignore the Red Flags
Moreover, don’t ignore red flags, no matter how small. Even the tiniest red flags are still red flags! Little things swept under the rug will eventually snowball into real, preventable issues. With each relationship, you will get better at recognizing when a situation isn’t right for you. In most cases, people will show their cards early on; do your best to keep stock. Keep an open mind, but understand that there is only so much you can do to change someone.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a past relationship?