13 Lessons From Big Relationship Mistakes

It's impossible to have a relationship without making a fair number of mistakes. But the silver lining is that the biggest mistakes we make in relationships can teach us a lot. And, even better, learning the biggest mistakes other people have made in relationships can prevent us from making them ourselves.

So, I found out what people learned from the biggest mistakes they've made in their relationships, and several themes emerged. One of the things people seem to regret the most is devoting themselves to other people who didn't deserve it. Another seems to be settling for relationships that didn't feel right. Several people said they stayed with someone longer that they should have because they felt obligated or felt like it should work when in reality, it wasn't working.

If we're going to take something away from this, then, perhaps it's to hold our partners and relationships to high standards and make sure not to lose ourselves in them. People seem to regret not being picky enough more than they regret being picky. But let's get into the specifics. Here are a few relationship mistakes other people learned from that you might be able to learn from too.

1. Susan, 61

"I thought that the more love I gave, the more he'd love me. I falsely believed that the more I did for him, the more he'd want to do for me. This imbalance become the norm. The more I did and gave (of everything), the less inclined he felt to reciprocate."

2. David, 43

"To identify and assert my core needs as they come up, rather than simply assume they would one day be met by my partner as a matter of course — because they were not, when I needed it most."

3. Sabrina, 35

"That I am the problem I can control."

4. Danielle, 28

"Don't be so honest."

5. Robin, 35

"Just because he loves you does not mean you are obligated to love him back."

6. Bri, 24

"I got back together with him even though I knew I liked the idea of being liked more than I liked him. This ended up hurting both of us more in the long run, even though at the time he was happy I caved. I should have trusted myself enough to stick with the decision to break up rather than cave into his pestering because I didn't want him to be hurting. Just because I can talk myself into anything doesn't mean I should."

7. Monica, 37

"I learned that just because you're 28 doesn't mean you need to find the first guy you think is nice and marry him before you turn 30. I was on that path with a good guy who was... just that: good. He wasn't great, he didn't encourage me to go after my dreams, and I never wanted to have sex with him (probably because he wasn't enthusiastic about my career goals). I was thinking 'Oh, he's a good person, though, and it's time. I'll just get through it.' Something about the 30th birthday coming on causes people to make boring, limiting choices. In the end, I'm so very thankful that I didn't let myself settle at 28. I left and worked toward my goals and then when I was 34 I met my kick-ass husband. Since then (I'm 37 now) he has encouraged me to make my career goals happen and shoot beyond them. I am excited by what I have accomplished with him by my side and for all the other dreams we can make happen together."

8. Rowan, 40

"That giving far more than I receive sets a precedence, and creates an imbalance that's pretty much impossible to shift once established."

9. Shara, 38

"Love is not enough. By a long shot. I thought it was for a remarkably long time."

10. Shannon, 38

"To keep building my career, money, and circle of family and friends and not get lost in romantic future plans. Because even though your partner is your family, they can leave you in an instant with no explanation."

11. Vincent, 25

"Not to give so many second chances. Anger comes from a boundary being crossed, not from a personal failing. That it isn't OK for another person to become the center of your life. That doesn't make you a good girlfriend. It makes you a door mat."

12. Jen, 40

"You can't make someone love you as much as you think you love them."

13. Lauren, 32

"That I'm worth more. My boyfriend at the time couldn't say 'I love you' for the two years we were together. I was so weak when it came to my self-worth, my best friend had to intervene and put the wheels in motion for me to break up with him. I learned you need to speak up for you needs, and if someone's not picking up what you're putting down, you need to move yourself enough to walk away."

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