It’s been over four years since I asked readers to share some of their best break-up lessons (or lessons they learned from relationships that ended) and, if my email inbox is any indication, it seemed like it was time to remind people of the silver lining in our broken hearts. So, I posed the question on Facebook: “What kinds of lessons have your learned from your breakups and/or former relationships?” I got some great replied, and, in the interest of helping others get through their broken hearts (or avoid them in the future), I’ve culled some of my favorite replies from FB and from previous columns here in one easy-to-read list:
1. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t want it to be over, or don’t entirely understand why it’s over. If the other person is done, it’s over. And while you are healing, look for ways to help other people — physically, emotionally, financially, whatever. That’s the best way I’ve found to feel better about myself and the world.”
2. “Life is too short to be unhappy. If you are not happy 75% of the time, walk away! You will find the right person for you. And you can’t make a relationship work by yourself — both people need to work at it. Relationships are not 50/50; they are 100/100 for both people in one.”
3. “Never move in with a significant other because it’s financially convenient, especially if you haven’t discussed time frames for marriage, etc. The breakup is pretty divorce-like emotionally and can cause severe trust issues in the future.”
4. “I got a strong understanding of what my deal breakers truly are, and now I stick to them!”
5. “Don’t be mad or upset with yourself for feeling hurt or needing to shed a tear, even if it’s been some time after a breakup. Allowing yourself to have and express those feelings is healthy, necessary, and cathartic. If not acknowledged, these thoughts and feelings can continue to have a negative effect on your own worth and happiness and likely in your future relationships.”
6. “Relationships aren’t fun all the time — everything worth having takes work — but a relationship isn’t worth much if it’s not adding good things to your life or bringing you some happiness.”
7. “Guys who want to be your boyfriend don’t waste a lot of time acting like anything other than your boyfriend.”
8. “Decide what qualities you absolutely cannot do without and, damn it, just let the other things go. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for one dissatisfying relationship after another.”
9. “If you have to be someone other than who you are in order to date someone, it’s not the right relationship for you. Be true to yourself, always. Facades are hard to maintain.”
10. “Own up to your own shortcomings and flaws. Take some responsibility in your breakups, and acknowledge the mistakes you made in your last relationship so you can work on being better in your next one.”
And here are a few of my own:
1. Being in a lonely relationship is far lonelier than just being alone.
2. Knowing exactly what I want and exactly what I’m worth makes it much harder to settle for anything less.
3. When sex ends in a relationship, it is usually the last thing to go and it’s always a symptom of something that’s wrong.
What are some of your best break-up lessons?