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?
Diablo June 18, 2015, 12:17 pm
Keep your chin tucked in tight and your left hand up.
Nookie June 19, 2015, 6:26 am
Always bring a towel!
ktfran June 18, 2015, 12:32 pm
Wendy’s #3…. Sex was the first thing to go with my ex-fiance, but everything else was pretty great, so for me… it was a sign that he wasn’t right and I should have ended things WAY sooner.
muchachaenlaventana June 18, 2015, 1:29 pm
Yeah I think it can depend, but for a lot its like when the sex goes time to pull the plug. Sadly I have not really had that “luxury” in past relationships and have had a healthy and satisfying sex life and like two days later been dumped. Which also kind of blows.
ktfran June 18, 2015, 1:42 pm
Oh, totally agree. I was just commenting that for me, the no sex wasn’t really a symptom of anything else wrong, it was just that there was no sex and I didn’t want sex so I needed to call it quits.
But yes, no more sex or attraction is a very bad sign in most relationships, unless you’re ok with and agree that hey – no sex.
Sandy June 18, 2015, 1:15 pm
Learned when I was a teen – You cannot control how someone feels. Your SO should be someone that lifts you up, not put you down. Trust your gut, if the relationship feels wrong or should be over or like it’s going to be over don’t drag it out.
Laura Hope June 18, 2015, 1:55 pm
When someone tells you they don’t want marriage/children/commitment, they really mean it.
Skyblossom June 18, 2015, 2:11 pm
Actions, not words, show a person’s true character.
mrmidtwenties June 18, 2015, 6:03 pm
All great advice. I would say my biggest piece of advice would be that it doesn’t matter how much you love someone, you can just not be a good fit and you have to let each other go.
Jenn June 18, 2015, 9:24 pm
If his words say no, but his actions say yes: the answer is NO
If his words say yes, but his actions say no: the answer is NO
If his words say yes and his actions say yes: the answer is Yes. Keep going!
Raccoon eyes June 19, 2015, 7:20 am
(late teens early twenties) Just because you dont work out, does not make you a failure or “bad” at relationships.
(late twenties) Just because the relationship is relatively easy, does not make it right. When one (possibly somewhat innocuous) thing they do annoys you to no end, that is ok, and it is ok to break up because of the small stuff.
(later twenties, early thirties) There is no need to settle. Just because it feels like everyone else is coupled up (happily or not), doesnt mean that the guy you are with, who you imagine you could convince yourself to be happy with forever, is actually the guy for you.
Mid thirties/present day 😉 : The one for you knows YOU are the one for him as well. And his actions back those words up every day.
Skyblossom June 19, 2015, 8:41 am
I love the last one. Definitely, the one for you should know that you are the one for them.
Raccoon eyes June 19, 2015, 8:53 am