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6 Important Lessons from a Failed Relationship

When a relationship ends, we experience a period of mourning. Within that grief, we explore our heart and soul recalling the details of every insult, selfish act, and painful moment we can conjure up - and it hurts. As we lay in bed late at night, we remember the turnaround points, possible openings, or moments we felt happy and question if we could have saved the inevitable from happening. We blame ourselves and our partner because, in society, a breakup is a negative concept - a failure on our part.

Sometimes break-ups are unavoidable, and rather than punishing ourselves for past mistakes, it’s healthier to grieve that past, understand errors, and learn the lessons to do better in the future. Every failed relationship is accompanied by valuable lessons, but here are six of the most important ones.

1. Accepting the breakup while being kind to yourself. A breakup leaves you feeling shaky. You may question if you will ever find love again, and although the answer is yes, it sure doesn’t feel that way. Going forward you must accept that loving again begins with accepting the breakup and forgiving yourself. Love yourself first, and don’t become dependent on others' validation. Treating others well starts with self-love.

2. Rehashing the past wastes time. When a relationship ends, you may find yourself endlessly repeating everything in your mind. This creates confusion as you wonder if the relationship could have been salvaged. Going over and over everything that happened prior to the breakup holds you in the past where you begin to live. Meanwhile as you’re stranded in the past, friends and family proceed with their lives. Because this pattern increases loneliness, distract yourself by engaging in an activity you enjoy as soon as the crippling analysis begins.

3. Healing is not linear. Soon after a failed relationship you’ll feel sad, angry, confused, and relieved - all at once. As time progresses, you’ll have a great day where you’re at the top of your game only to be followed by a day of sadness. Grief is a necessary component of the healing process, but it’s not linear. You may feel great when you start dating again only to be an emotional wreck a week later while remembering your ex. It will get better, but it will improve on its own timeline - not yours.

4. Understanding your values more thoroughly. Sometimes we don’t recognize the importance of our values until someone disrespects or disregards them. When you’re in a relationship that isn’t working, you often try everything to make it work - including sabotaging your own values. When this happens, you know in your gut the relationship is flawed but stay because you don’t want to be alone. That feeling in your gut usually wins and the relationship ultimately fails, helping you see more clearly that when someone loves you your values matter to them as much as they do to you.

5. Recalling the good and bad times with a smile. In the first couple of weeks, you may only remember the relationship’s end, but focusing on the negative says more about you than the relationship itself: you haven’t let go yet. Once you begin recalling the good things about your ex, it’s a sign that you are getting healthier. Plus, it helps you trust yourself again as you realize you were with someone who had wonderful qualities, too. These moments of clarity will help you understand that everyone has strong and weak attributes in future dating, decreasing your likelihood of being blindsided or misled.

6. Renewing the importance of forgiveness for yourself and your ex. Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves, but it can be difficult to forgive someone who brought us so much pain. Holding on to past injuries does nothing but holds us back. Learning to forgive ourselves after a failed relationship is a gift that tells every new person you meet that you are more invested in creating a life of meaning and love than carrying a heavy bag of regret. It won’t happen all at once. Instead, forgive in stages beginning with small grievances and advancing to the more painful memories. The goal of this process is to leave the memory softer than when you first recollected it.

Relationships don’t fail overnight but begin with small things: harsh words, missed opportunities for negotiation, distrust, and disrespect. Letting go is difficult, but holding onto something not meant to be limits better future opportunities for both you and your partner. Although incredibly painful, breakups always offer important lessons. Keep your faith in love, do your part to create a healthy relationship, but remember you cannot force someone to love you. Treat your relationship and partner with the utmost respect and delicacy when it is time to let it go.


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