I’ve heard that our relationships are a reflection of the one we have with ourselves. Chances are, you’ve had “failed” relationships in the past. Well, I don’t believe in failure. Everything experienced teaches us one thing or another. In this post, I’ll be sharing 10 lessons from past relationships that have helped me grow and evolve into the person I am today.
When it comes to personal growth, it is imperative to take some time to reflect on how far you’ve come. By reflecting on your past, you can bring awareness to patterns or cycles you may have overlooked. When thinking about past relationships, oftentimes it feels easier to simply block them out but you can’t grow without taking ownership of your past. Decide to see things differently with an open mind and then go there. Recognize anything you would’ve done differently.
Being in my mid 30’s, I’ve been a part of a couple long term relationships in the past. Now that I’m currently single, I decided to actually sit down and reflect on my biggest lessons from my past relationships before I decide to get involved in a new one. By doing this, I’m developing a deeper sense of intention in the future relationship I decide to be a part of. Continue reading for my 10 biggest lessons!
1. Be yourself (from day 1)
My first lesson from past relationships is to be yourself from the very beginning. When you meet a potential partner and start trying to change yourself in order for them to like you, that’s not going to work. You’ll not only get exhausted from that, but the truth will come out eventually and it can be messy. So if you find yourself beginning to want to make yourself out to be someone you’re not, take a step back and work on your self-love first. There’s someone out there that will love the true you.
2. Communication is key
My next lesson is to value communication. I actually learned about the importance of this in my previous relationship. That is something I’m really grateful to have been able to walk away with. I have to say it wasn’t easy. I was the passive aggressive one saying I was “fine” when clearly I wasn’t. So I want to validate that it does take time and intention to improve your communication but it is so worth it.
Yes, it can feel really scary to be vulnerable with the person you love. You might fear being judged or rejected but by using effective, calm and open communication, you’ll get very far. It also comes down to the delivery. There’s a time and place for everything so choose wisely. For example, don’t begin a conversation about an issue after work on a weekday when you’re both tired. Let them know you want to talk and give them a day and time when you’ll both feel prepared and rested.
3. Allow yourself to receive
From the lessons on my list, this is the one I’m currently working on. In my previous relationships, I’ve had a difficult time receiving anything. From the very beginning, I wouldn’t even allow my dates/partners to pay for my meal (or I’d make it awkward). I know where it stems from for me so I’ve been intentionally working on this. By not allowing your partner to give, you’re getting them used to that and if you ever change your mind about this, it can be difficult to transition.
4. Continue making time for friends
When entering a relationship, it can be so easy to begin spending all of your free time with your partner. It is natural for this to happen especially as the relationship progresses. So because of all this, it is imperative that you continue making time for your friends and family. By spending time with others, you’re maintaining your network and gaining community outside the relationship. This alleviates pressure from your partner to be everything for you. It is safe to get needs met from other friends. You can have friends you do outdoor things with or attend museums, for instance. Don’t be that person that completely disappears after getting in a relationship.
5. Actions speak louder than words
My next lesson from past relationships is to pay attention to your partner’s actions. Unless your top love language is words of affirmation, actions matter a lot. At the end of the day, their actions need to be backed up by their words. If they keep telling you they’re going to do something but don’t follow through, that’s a red flag. If this continues over a long period of time, resentment can build up.
6. Be careful with letting things slide
This lesson kinda goes with the previous one. Be careful with letting things slide. If you begin to do this, your partner can get used to it and possibly take advantage of it. As weird as it sounds, you “train” others how to treat you. So if you don’t implement and maintain clear boundaries from the beginning, you’re risking being taken advantage of or even disrespected.
7. Once you start questioning your worth, it’s time to leave
This lesson came about from a “situationship” in my early 20s. When trust is broken and you begin to question your worth, just walk away. There’s literally billions of people on the planet so don’t waste your time ever trying to convince anyone to be with you. You are worthy of a healthy and happy relationship and you will find the right partner with time.
8. Stop forcing progress
Out of all my lessons from past relationships, this one was probably the hardest to accept. When you’re in a long term relationship that isn’t progressing, don’t force it. Yes, communicate your needs and wants with your partner but if there is still no progress after that, consider walking away. The more you force things to happen, the more resentment and blame will be built. So similar to #6, be careful.
9. You are a complete person on your own
Don’t ever get into a relationship because you don’t want to be alone. If anything, that’s exactly when you NEED to be alone. No one can complete you. You are whole and complete on your own. A relationship is simply an enhancement in your life that brings more love, happiness, etc. So always remember that you already have everything you want and need within you.
10. Your intuition knows best
The final lesson from previous relationships is to listen to your intuition. Our intuition never lies and it is available to guide us whenever we are open to it. Everyone has one, but unfortunately, we’re taught to silence or ignore it. So don’t shame yourself for doing that in the past. Choose to begin to use it going forward. It’s hard to explain but your intuition is the feeling in your gut that alerts you when something is right or wrong. Make an effort to practice using it and always listen to it. It’ll save you time, energy and hardships lol.
One final thought I have on my lessons from past relationships is that there will always continue being new lessons. There is no destination. Relationships are a journey that you choose to take with another soul. As humans, things will come up and no relationship is perfect but with self-awareness and intention, you have the power to create a beautiful one.
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