These days, with a greater lean than ever before towards Eastern philosophy in the Western world, there’s a strong emphasis on living in the moment. Living in the moment helps us clear our heads of the pointless what “could have” or “should have” beens, and keeps us focused on making the best of our present situations. But what role does the past have in making our lives better today? Should it all just be forgotten? One constructive use of the past is to help us not repeat the same negative patterns in our dating and relationship experiences. After a relationship ends, it can be common to blame ourselves for what went wrong, to blame the other person, or to just want to run away and forget it ever happened. In order to grow however, we must discern the individual lessons available to us through our experiences – after all – that’s what life is about!
5 Lessons to take from past relationships
1. No one is responsible for your happiness but you. It’s very easy for us to blame another person for “causing” our unhappiness. However, when you realize the situation itself is as it is, and that it’s your perspective about it that’s changeable, we can start to look inside for what’s really causing our unhappiness. When our needs aren’t being met by someone, it’s up to us to change the situation and ask for what we need. If we still can’t get it, it’s up to us to lay down the boundary and leave that situation.
2. You’re not responsible for their happiness either. This goes both ways. Blaming yourself for another’s unhappiness is an exercise in futility. It’s a choice to be happy and to make sure we’re getting our needs met. If the other person isn’t happy no matter what you do, ask yourself where the problem actually lies. Thinking it’s your job to make someone happy is simply not the truth.
3. If it was a good relationship, you would still be together. All to often we magically forget about the bad times when we break up and we idealize the good times. What’s usually happening though, is that you’re mourning the way you wanted the relationship to be, not how it actually was. Endings, however painful we may make them, are the only way new beginnings can happen.
4. What were the red flags? When we’re in love, we can be blind to the negative signs and clues along the way. What were they for you? Write them down for your last few relationships and see if you notice a pattern in the type of behaviour you exhibit or attract. Remember these so you can be conscious of them next time you’re in a relationship.
5. It takes two. Don’t take all the responsibility for things going south, and certainly don’t blame the other person for everything either. Being an adult is about taking responsibility, so when we see that the adult situations in our lives aren’t working out the way we want them to, it’s up to us to come up with solutions that benefit both parties in a loving way.