7 Things You Can Only Learn From Your Failed Relationships

You know how everyone's always going on and on about how "everything happens for a reason." I wonder how often people stop and ask themselves what that reason is. It's like we all have this weird blind faith in these clichés that have no basis in logic but yet (somehow?) resonate as true. It's my belief that the reason is "growth," it's what we're physically and emotionally and mentally designed to do. But it's beyond just knowledge, it's a sort of soul-wisdom that only comes when your heart is truly broken open for the first time. In the words of Rumi, that's where the light enters.

Your failed relationships aren't actually "failures." You haven't "failed" at anything. You've simply been re-directed. You confused a lesson for a soulmate. But that was it. I think that most people would agree when I say that a little while after-the-fact it tends to become clear that what ends is for the best, what remains is for the best, and what lingers is even better: it means there's more that experience has to teach us.

There is so much to be learned from our failed relationships, I don't even know where to begin. There's so much and yet all of it comes back down to the same few things. You've only really "failed" as much as you've stopped trying, and you've only really stopped trying when you've given up on being better. Here, seven things you're only going to learn from the love that didn't last (if you're lucky):

What The Wrong Relationship Feels Like — Before You Realize It's The Wrong Relationship

The thing is that the relationships that are most "wrong" for us often don't appear to be, not on the surface at least. We decide it's "wrong" when the scales tip in either which direction. Until then, it's a game of being torn between feeling absolutely convinced you've found "the one," and absolutely miserable about it (and trying to determine how much of that is normal, and how much is your instinct screaming at you). The point is: having the experience of knowing you're in the wrong relationship before it's blatantly obvious that it's wrong is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the most crucial skills to have.

What You Really Want In A Partner

Your failed relationships teach you more than just what you don't want in a partner (or what you won't tolerate). It teaches you what you do want by showing you what you held onto. What you used to justify staying. What mattered more than not being with the right person did. Those things are gold, and they are priceless, and they set the framework for finding someone who has all of them, but also doesn't come with a ringing in your head that says "I'm indescribably unhappy and I don't know what to do".

How Not To Attach Yourself To The Idea Of Someone Else

The reason we hold onto the relationships that aren't right for us for so long is usually because we've just attached an idea to a person. These ideas can include (but are not limited to): how we won't be OK if they leave, how nobody else in the world exists for us but them, how they're Right for us in a weird, divine, existential way so we have to make it work, that we can't bear the pain of losing them, etc. These things seem real in the moment, but are ultimately just self-abusive notions that keep you stuck where you don't want to be. You have to be acquainted with these particular demons before you can start to recognize them from the get-go.

How You Grieve The Loss Of Someone Who Hasn't Died

There's a different kind of grieving you have to do when you lose someone and yet there they are, frequenting your coffee shop and living two buildings away on campus and gracing your newsfeed via tags from mutual friends and popping up on your phone now and again to see how things are. To lose someone and yet still have to live with them is an entirety new paradigm of ouch, and it's something only experience teaches you to cope with effectively enough.

How To Fight Clean

It's only after you lose a relationship to your own reckless tongue and incapacity for self-control that you realize within our innermost personal dynamics there exists an Art of War of sorts. There's a way to fight, there are battles to pick, and sometimes, walking wisely and mindfully through a disagreement or tense dynamic isn't suppressive as much as it is love-saving.

What Your Limits Are

It's scary and unfortunate but (thankfully, in many cases) true: there's only so far you can push people before they give up. The same is true for yourself, of course. There is only so far that you'll be able to go before you realize that the amount of energy going in is not equatable to what you're getting out. We call this the breaking point. We call this the straw that breaks the camel's back. We call this the little minor grievance that turns into the last fight before it's done. It's not random, it's just inevitable. Everyone has a saturation point.

How To Choose Your Next Relationship

When we're first dating, we choose partners whose traits complement and reflect our parents' (that was the first relationship we had). Then we choose partners whose traits are the traits we wish our old partners could have embodied, traits that are the opposite of what we experienced prior. We seek in our new relationships everything we never had in our old ones. Your failed relationships literally set the frame work for the rest of your romantic life. And if you get smart about it, it can be for the best.

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