When a bad relationship ends, it's a gift. A crappy gift covered in spikes, rain, and misery, but a gift nonetheless. That's because there are so many important things to learn from an unhealthy relationship, and so many opportunities for personal growth. Smooth seas do not make a skilled sailor, as the saying goes.
Dr. Gary Lewandowski, a psychologist at Monmouth University, told website i09 that it's totally normal to experience a grab bag of emotions after a breakup, including sadness, relief, optimism, and anger. You may even feel them all at the same time. So while you're busy listening to the saddest songs you know and burning all of your new ex's photos, you will also catch the occasional glimpse of the positive feelings on the horizon.
It's in these moments when you can feel gratitude for dodging a serious bullet by no longer being together, even if if feels like that bullet actually hit you right in the face. Unfortunately, grieving the loss of your old relationship, no matter how bad it was for you, is part of the emotional process of losing a romantic partner. All this pain has its place, and serves to helps you move forward into something even better, if you let it.
1. Your Worth
I was watching Bones the other day, and the ever-rational Brennan said something like, "love is just a chemical process in the brain that causes delusions." If one of your delusions was that it was OK for your partner to treat you badly, then a breakup is a great time to regain a sense of your self worth. The point of a relationship is for both of you to make each other happy, according to Cosmopolitan, and if you partner didn't do that, he can go make some other person miserable. Because you deserve the best.
2. What You Don't Want
All the things you hated about your ex (and come on, even if you're totally heartbroken, there has to be something) are gone now. No more jealous or controlling behavior. No more fighting. And as an added bonus, you now know that you don't want these qualities in your next relationship.
3. What You Need
The point of a relationship should be to enhance your life. It isn't really enhancing anything if you aren't getting your needs met. And so many of us don't know what we need, according to Colette Bouchez in an article for WebMD. Since you're in the examining phase of your last relationship, you can use this time to discover what you need and how your last partner didn't fit the bill. Knowing what you want going into a relationship makes your odds of being in a successful coupling that much greater, according to Bouchez.
4. How Strong You Are
Realizing how strong you are is one of the great benefits of a breakup, according to Cosmopolitan. The point is, you didn't think you could live without your ex and here you are, living and breathing and doing all those things alive people do. And even though you may be a mess right now, you're going to be fine, and better equipped to handle adversity in the future.
5. Who Is In Charge Of Your Happiness
Spoiler alert: It's you. Your relationship did not define you, or validate your existence. Only you can do that. Just like happiness is totally your own inside job. Even if you hook up with the single greatest person in the entire galaxy, your happiness still has to come from cultivating your own sense of self through friendships, hobbies, new experiences, work, and plain old trial and error.
6. Who Your Friends Are
After a breakup, you need your friends. The whole ordeal might bring you all closer, especially if you were spending less time with them and more with your ex. And you need your friends, especially your besties, to help you remember all the great things about you and about life. Science even confirms that hanging out with your besties is a crucial step in reducing your stress.
All that misery is a great teacher. Just remember next time you see a gorgeous pair of eyes glancing in your direction that you never have to settle.