Not all relationships last forever, but you can learn many life lessons from a failed relationship. Sometimes, we have to meet certain people to learn important lessons; oftentimes, the wrong relationships lead us to the right person eventually.
While not everyone sticks around throughout all the chapters of our lives, we meet every person for a reason. If you’ve just gotten out of a relationship recently and feel heartbroken about it, we hope the following advice can help you move through it.
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” – Marilyn Monroe
Here are 12 important life lessons to take away from a failed relationship:
Overthinking causes more pain in the end.
At the end of the relationship, you may feel tempted to ruminate about every situation and conversation in your head so you can try to figure out where it went wrong. Of course, this is natural to some extent – when something goes awry in life, we want to dissect it so we can learn from it. However, too much analysis and overthinking just leads to misery, as you can never go back and change what happened.
While you should try to learn from what happened, you shouldn’t dwell on the past. Feel your emotions, talk about them with friends and family, and then allow yourself to move on. You only hurt yourself more when you overthink what went wrong in a failed relationship.
Learn to become your own best friend.
Sometimes in relationships, we forget to love ourselves as much as we love our partner. Then, when they leave, all of our self-worth and happiness goes right out the window. If you don’t cultivate self-love, you will depend on someone outside yourself to give it to you. However, relying on someone else to accept you means that you will never feel totally fulfilled.
If you don’t feel complete within yourself, you’ll need constant validation from your partner or others. At the end of a relationship, ask yourself how much you depended on your partner for self-esteem and validation. If you feel empty without them, this makes the perfect opportunity to go deep within yourself and heal any wounds from the past. Once you become your own best friend, you’ll have even more love to give in your next relationship, and you’ll feel more whole as well.
A failed relationship can teach us forgiveness.
If you felt undervalued or unloved in your last relationship, you might feel like getting revenge on your ex or blaming them for everything that went wrong. However, harboring resentment will only result in adding more stress to your life. Bottling up feelings can actually cause physical health problems as well. A 2013 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester found that people who bottled up feelings had a 30% higher risk of all-cause mortality and a 70% higher chance of a cancer diagnosis.
So, instead of wishing harm on your ex or trying to blame them for the failed relationship, try to forgive them instead. You’ll find that you feel much lighter by accepting what happened and choosing to forgive their mistakes. Remember also to not beat yourself up for the relationship ending and extend that forgiveness to yourself as well.
Healing takes time.
You’ll go through many different emotions after a breakup. People usually experience the following emotions, in any given order:
You might go through several cycles of these emotions before things start to feel normal again. Just remember to give yourself time and space to heal from the relationship. Some days you’ll feel like you’ve moved on, and others will feel like you’ve had your heart ripped from your chest. Just know that healing doesn’t happen overnight and that your feelings are totally justified.
As much as it might tempt you, don’t run back to your ex.
After breaking things off with your significant other, you will probably get rid of all the reminders of your relationship, such as old photos or keepsakes. However, the memories will linger and will tempt you into getting back with them on those lonely nights. If the relationship didn’t work out, getting back with them will only create more of the same problems you encountered before. In other words, leave the past behind you, and remember that you ended things for a reason. Wish your ex well, and feel grateful for the time you got to spend with them.
Cherish the good memories and what you learned from the relationship.
While you might dwell on the person’s negative attributes and why you feel so much better without them, this will only lead to feelings of resentment. Try to think of the good times you shared with your ex as well. Just because someone no longer holds a place in our lives doesn’t mean we have to paint them in a negative light.
If you focus on the bad qualities of someone, this only lowers your frequency. However, if you can speak about your ex in a mature, respectful way, this shows you’ve moved on and have an appreciation for what you learned from your time with them.
Don’t try to numb the pain.
At the end of a failed relationship, many people drown themselves in drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy habits to cope with the pain. Or, they might just keep extremely busy, so they have no time to deal with their feelings. These harmful coping mechanisms won’t work long-term, because you’ll have to face your feelings eventually. You need to give yourself time to go through the emotions instead of creating constant distractions for your feelings.
You can move on from a relationship while also allowing yourself space to process the breakup.
Use this as an opportunity to learn more about yourself.
In a relationship, many people feel that they lose themselves since they spend so much of their time with their partner. Hobbies and even personalities can blend together until you don’t know where you end, and your partner begins.
Healthy relationships have clear boundaries, but some relationship partners experience enmeshment and codependence. In that case, the healing process will take longer as you’ll feel you need to find yourself again.
No matter if the relationship ended on good or bad terms, you could use your newfound freedom to your advantage. Figure out what you enjoy and what makes you happy, without having to depend on anyone else for it. Create your own joy in life and keep busy with hobbies that interest you.
Choosing a positive outlook will help you in your recovery.
In a study of emotional distress after a breakup, researchers studied participants’ positive or negative emotions about the failed relationship. They asked participants about how often they thought about the relationship, depression, loss of self-concept, rediscovery of self-concept, negative emotional adjustment, and positive emotional adjustments.
Researchers found that participants had greater recovery if they felt positive emotions about the breakup, for example, being happy, satisfied, or relieved. The optimistic thinkers didn’t dwell on the relationship as much, had less anxiety about being single, and had fewer regrets.
Take the positives from the relationship and apply it to your next one.
What went right in your last relationship? What qualities did you learn about yourself that could help your future partner feel more loved, whole, or accepted? Make sure you take time to think about what qualities you brought into your previous relationship that made it more harmonious. Just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the positives.
A failed relationship can teach you where you still need to work on yourself.
Expanding on the last point, think about what you could improve about yourself in the next relationship. Did you nag too much, set your expectations too high, or hold grudges? Give the silent treatment too often instead of communicating? Think about how you can work on yourself to become better, not only for yourself but for your future partner as well.
Life doesn’t always turn out how we plan it.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons to take away from a failed relationship is that life just doesn’t always turn out how we expect it to. The solution? Don’t have any expectations at all. Just enjoy the ride and learn from every person you come in contact with; they all have something to teach you or learn from you.