This post was contributed by Laura, a loveisrespect advocate
So your relationship ended – now what? After a breakup, we often feel a rush of painful and confusing emotions. We might even begin to question everything about our relationship. How could it have gone wrong? I loved them so much, isn’t love enough? Did I do something wrong? Does this mean we failed?
That last question can be so tough. We’re often taught that relationships take a lot of work. If you just work hard enough, the relationship should last, right? Well, that isn’t always the case. Relationships can and do end for a lot of reasons. It can be so tempting to think of a relationship that ended in a breakup as a waste of our time and a failure on our part. While those painful feelings surrounding a breakup are certainly normal, no matter how long you were with your ex, your relationship ending is not a failure. Relationships that end can actually teach us a lot about ourselves.
It’s normal to dwell on the positive memories from your relationship – we all like to remember the good times. But no matter how wonderful your ex was, no one is perfect. When looking back on your previous relationship, it might help to try to see it more realistically. Maybe your ex had some habits that you didn’t like. Maybe they had some personality traits that just weren’t compatible with yours. Sometimes fundamentally different habits or personality traits can make a couple incompatible. Those things don’t mean you can’t stay friends once you’ve healed, but thinking about an ex’s ‘flaws’ can certainly help us think about what works for us in a future relationship. Even if we’ve gone over and over in our heads what we hope our partner and relationship will be like, the truth is a relationship takes (at least) two people. We won’t really discover what we do and don’t want in and from a partner without actually being in a relationship, regardless of whether it ends or not. In summary, a breakup can be a chance to find out what works for you and what doesn’t.
You can think of it like trying on a bunch of different clothes. Sometimes you try on a pair of pants, and while you might like the style, for some reason they just don’t fit. Maybe they’re too tight or too long, or maybe you can’t really put your finger on why they’re not working. But by trying on those pants, you discover that they’re not quite right for you, which can be important and helpful in and of itself. Relationships are similar (but of course, a bit more complicated): the only way you can learn what is and isn’t right for you is through experience.
Many people have a number of relationships throughout their lives, and many go through breakups. People also change as they move into different phases of life. Sometimes the person we want to date at 17 isn’t going to be the same person we want to date at 22. That’s okay, because what we want and desire in a partner can evolve and grow as we do. It’s normal and healthy to grow and change as an individual, so it’s normal and healthy to grow and change in (or out of) relationships, too. It’s all a part of discovering who we really are. Learning more about ourselves is never a waste of time! It’s also important to note that if someone breaks up with you, it doesn’t mean you’re “unlovable” or incapable of having a relationship. Different people have different needs in a relationship. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, but that doesn’t make you any “worse” at being in a relationship. It just means that this person wasn’t right for you right now, and you weren’t right for them – and that’s okay!
It’s normal to go through the cycle of finding a person we like, dating them and then discovering that for some reason, the relationship won’t work. Dating and having relationships that end is a part of our journey in life. While breakups can be really painful, every relationship we have can help us learn just a little bit more about ourselves and what we want. So, even when a relationship ends, it’s not a failure. It taught us so much about ourselves, and that is always a treasured and valuable lesson.
Having trouble getting over a breakup? Not sure if your relationship is quite right for you? Call, chat or text with us!