21 Lessons I've Learned From Breakups
Those of us who have been through breakups have a story to tell. The story isn’t beautiful because of what lies behind it — the pain, the hurt, and the sadness. Nonetheless, we made it through. We recovered.
It can sometimes feel like a miracle to recover from a breakup and those who experience it don’t ever want to go through it again. But, somehow, we do. Even for a second, third, fourth time, etc.
Even though we've been dumped or have dumped our partner, many times we jump into another relationship without finding out whether there were things to be learned from the previous failed relationship(s). We never sit down to examine the reasons why the breakup happened and the lessons that can be learned from it. And then we often find ourselves in the same situation — broken up.
Some of us have undergone several breakups and we wonder why we always end up on the wrong side of the relationship. If we had taken the time to scrutinize the relationships as well as their breakups, then we would have learned invaluable lessons. These would have helped us in our next romantic journey. You see, most breakups can be avoided.
Below are the lessons I have learned from my previous failed relationships as well as some that I found through research. Some of these lessons aren't necessarily about breakups but instead reflect things that make a relationship great and can help us remember who we are while in a relationship.
1. Don’t Fall in Love Too Easily
By nature we are loving people — we want to love and be loved. It is a normal thing. The problem is not loving a person that you have developed feelings for. The problem is falling in love too easily.
Before two people become lovers, they must be friends. Friends know each other. Friends will help each other because they care for each other. If you don’t know your partner, when the relationship hits a rock it’ll fall to pieces.
Don't let your eyes deceive you. Don’t look at the cover of a book and be satisfied with it because it’s appealing. Open the book to see the pages inside and know more about it.
Before you fall in love, take some time to get to know your would-be lover. Falling in love too easily is the biggest cause of breakups. Be careful with your heart. Take good care of it. Don’t fall for anyone until you are sure they are the right person to fall in love with.
2. Don’t Withhold Important Things
During the initial period of a relationship or before a relationship starts — the friendship stage — it’s important to let the other person know who you are. This includes telling them things about your past, even ones that might be sensitive. Of course, it doesn’t mean you need to tell them everything about yourself right away. No. If they like you, then they'll want to know more about you.
If you don’t talk about these things (which can sometimes be difficult), and they later find out, it's possible that you will break up.
For example, let's say a woman can't have children for one reason or another. It's important that she let her partner know this early on. If they break up with her because of it, at least it happened before they were too closely bonded with one another. It will hurt, but it won’t be as painful as it would have been later on.
3. Your Partner Will Let You Down
No matter how great your partner is, they are going to let you down at some point. This doesn't mean you shouldn't trust them at all — just that you should trust them knowing they are imperfect like you. So even though you love them, when it comes to matters of the heart, you shouldn’t give your partner the whole of your heart. You should reserve a part of it for yourself.
In the absence of trust, there is no love. If you love your partner, you trust them. So be realistic about what they can do. Even if you don't break up, you're going to have conflicts that will make you lose your trust in them. If you believe they will never let you down, you're going to get hurt.
4. Don't Have Your Life Revolve Around Your Partner
One thing that often happens when people are in relationships is that they begin to focus too much on their partner. Family members and friends are put aside as if they don't mean very much — never mind that before you were in a relationship, they meant everything to you.
Remember that you are an individual with your own life. No one can fulfill your destiny. You’re the one in control of the steering wheel. What about your goals? Did they die once you fell in love? Does your partner mean more to you than everything and everyone? If you think so, then you’re deceiving yourself.
When you pin all your hopes and dreams on your partner, you forget to think about yourself and you begin living life to please your partner. This is a mistake. It's true that relationships require commitment, and sacrifice, but they shouldn't come at the expense of neglecting yourself and ignoring others.
5. Address Sensitive Issues
You need to address sensitive issues early on before they become problematic. Does he smoke and you don’t like it? Tell him. Does she do drugs and you’re not comfortable with it? Tell her. Does he appear possessive? Let him know.
Don’t think that things will change later on their own. It is better to address issues early on before they become troublesome. Tell your partner the behaviors or attitudes that are bothering you so they can try to fix it or come to some sort of compromise. Everyone has weaknesses, but that's not an excuse for not working on anything.
It is better to let your partner know early on what kind of behaviors you won't tolerate. If you notice something at the beginning, that is the right time to deal with it.
For a relationship to stay strong there must be good communication between partners. Lack of communication is one of the biggest factors that lead to breakups and divorces.
However, early on in the relationship you shouldn't communicate for too long or too often. If you communicate on a daily basis, you’ll become too familiar with each other and you’ll get bored.
It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. If you are texting a lot, you should vary the texts that you send daily or the response time including calls. Getting used to something or somebody will make you loathe or get tired of them or they getting tired of you leading to the end of the relationship.
Sometimes it is not the lack of communication that is the problem. It's the effectiveness. How often do you communicate with your partner, and how do you do it? Do you talk a lot face-to-face? When a problem arises in the relationship, does it affect your communication? If yes, to what degree?
Figuring out your own strengths and weaknesses surrounding communication will help you know better what kinds of problems to look out for and how to help your partner talk to you.
7. Looks Can Be Deceiving
You've probably heard the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Though the cover of a person might appeal to you, what about the contents? Do they still hold your appeal? It doesn’t mean that all attractive people are deceivers, it's just that the outside of anything always deceives. What matters is the heart — not looks or physical appearance.
So don't go after looks. Go after the real person. This means you need to get to know the person before you give them a share of your heart. If you fall in love with someone because of the way they look, you didn't really fall in love. It was only passion that led you to think you’d fallen in love with them. Love doesn’t look at the outward appearance of a person, but at the heart.
The next time you come across someone attractive, assess them first and then you can determine whether you want to get into a relationship with them.
8. Be Open About Money Issues
Be honest with your partner about money because finances can make or break a relationship. It is imperative that you discuss money with your partner. How will you manage your finances if you get married? How will you divide your salaries?
If you don't earn very much you should let your partner know. If they decide to leave you, then you’ll know that they don't love you.
Also, be cautious with your money unless you like to waste it. You may be called stingy, but as long as you know you’re saving it for a worthy cause and you don’t want to misuse it, then don’t be discouraged by what other people think.
9. They Won't Make You Happy
Some people get into a relationship in order to feel happy. They believe that if they get into the right one, they will feel joyful or delighted. This is far from true. A relationship will not make you happy or fulfill you.
Happiness comes from within — from your own heart. If you don’t feel happy on your own, you won’t feel happy when you’re with someone else. If you’re not happy because of who you are — yourself — then how can you be happy when you’re in a relationship?
10. Don’t Be Overly Dependent on Your Partner
I fell into this trap. I really do regret having totally depended on my ex. It feels good when you depend emotionally on your partner. You end up telling them everything, even things you’re supposed to keep to yourself. Though we should be open with our partners when we're in a relationship, it does have its limits. You cannot be open to your partner about each and every thing and you cannot always depend on them to solve all your problems.
You need to solve some of them on your own. You might as well be a robot if you depend on your partner for almost everything. At times, you need to show that you’re also a partner in the relationship and not just a device to be directed to do this or to do that.
What if the relationship comes to an end? Who will you depend on emotionally when the one you were depending on has dumped you? Learn to be on your own in the relationship as you share your life with your partner.
11. Are You Really Compatible?
How compatible are you with your partner? If you’re not compatible, then you shouldn't expect the relationship to flourish. You must match in almost everything. Well, almost everything.
If you have more differences than similarities, how are you going to get along with each other? It will be impossible. This is why during the friendship stage you should know whether the two of you have enough things in common.
12. The Pain Doesn’t Last
I learned that the pain doesn’t last for long. It might feel like the wound created in your heart will never heal but it will. It is hard to articulate in words how it feels when you're hurt by the person you love the most. Everyday it seems like the pain keeps on increasing. However, if you do all you can to ensure the healing process has begun; you will heal from the hurt.
The pain taught me to be careful if I don’t want to be hurt again. I learned that I should be cautious about the person that I share my heart with. In addition, the pain taught me that I should not take someone’s love for granted. I should appreciate her love and the trust they have in me. I should realize it’s something special and is a privilege in and of itself.
13. Pain Is Inevitable
As long as you are alive in this world, you cannot always avoid being hurt. This is especially true when it comes to relationships. You cannot avoid being hurt even in relationships that feel like they are almost perfect. It is inevitable. What matters most is not whether you will be hurt but how you respond to it. If you respond negatively, you will only make it worse. You should learn how to find healthy ways to deal with hurt because you cannot forever run away from it.
14. Forgiveness Is Power
Some relationships are destroyed by a problem that could have been solved if only one partner had forgiven the other. Some partners were meant to be together but due to lack of forgiveness, each went on his or her own path and ended up in a relationship with a person they were never meant to be with.
I learned that forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness. It is a sign of courage because you’ve taken the hard step of forgiving the person who hurt you. Once you forgive, you gain inner strength and peace reigns in your heart and mind. Moreover, hurtful emotions will no longer have control of your mind because you’ve forgiven the offender.
Forgiveness is for your own benefit. When you forgive it doesn’t mean you’re offering the offender another chance to hurt you. It means you will not allow the offender to keep hurting you because you’ve forgiven them. If you don't forgive, you'll only feel the pinch of hurt increasing each day.
15. Change Is Necessary
While it's true that breakups suck because they’re painful, there’s a lot of lessons we can learn from them and even some benefits that can be derived. One of them is learning where you need to grow. If there were some behaviors or attitudes you exhibited during the relationship that weren’t good, you need to get rid of them. If you don’t, then there is a high chance that the next relationship you engage in will end in the same situation you’re in now – a breakup.
Were you smoking and your partner didn’t like it? Stop. How were you treating your partner? How were you reacting to some situations in the relationship? Were you always in control of the remote? Change is hard but it is for the better. It is for your own benefit and nobody else’s.
16. You Can't Change Your Partner
No one can ever change another person. As much as you try, you will fail. A person has to be willing to change his or her behavior. If there is no willingness, you will fail to change them no matter how much you try. The best you can do is suggest.
You’ll end up frustrated when your partner doesn’t change. You will loathe them and be angry at them. Don’t try to change them because it is futile to do so. If they make changes just for your sake — ones they don't really want to make — you should realize that they are just surface level and probably won't last long.
17. Some Relationships Don't Work Out
Some relationships were never meant to be. There are different reasons for this, and it's possible you'll never know why it didn't work out. Maybe it was a lack of compatibility, or maybe it was something else.
Nevertheless, breakups happen for a reason whether or not it is obvious. There are situations when neither person can really pinpoint why the relationship came to an end.
Some relationships were meant to be while others weren't. It is a fact that you need to accept it if yours didn’t work out.
18. Revenge Isn't Worth It
Revenge never pays. It might feel good but it doesn't last. In the long-term you will regret it. In any sphere of life, revenge never helps. In fact, it is a sign of cowardliness and a lack of wisdom.
The best form of revenge is to forgive your ex and move on with your life.
19. Your Identity
Never lose your identity. You are unique in your own ways. No one can ever replace you. Don't allow a failed relationship to pull you down. Don't let your ex diminish your worth. Never lose the real you.
And don't forget to remember yourself even when you are in a relationship. Realize that you have a life of your own even if you share it with your partner. Don't let them be your whole life. If you do, you won't be able to enjoy the relationship or the life that you’ve neglected.
20. Don't Fall in Love With Someone Who Just Loves Being in Love With You
There are some people who just like to be in love. When these people fall in love with you, it's like they are actually just falling in love with the feeling itself and not actually falling in love with you. You should be careful about this because if this happens, the relationship won't be able to survive after the flames die down.
21. Infatuation Is Dangerous
The first days or weeks at the start of a relationship do not determine whether the relationship will endure through thick and thin. When people fall in love they cannot contain the feelings they have for each other. People will say you’re suited to each other and they’re sure you’ll get along.
However, the first flames of love you have for each other are not true indications that you are in love. You will know the real person when the initial flames of love die away. When the relationship is faced with difficulties, you will know whether your partner does indeed love you. The beginning is not an indication. Don’t count on those feelings to continue.