The other day, I realized that I’ve learned some of my best relationship lessons from my worst relationships. Sometimes, good relationships end simply because they’re not meant to be, the timing isn’t right, or some other arbitrary factor completely out of your control. Other times, you become a better partner because of the relationships that failed. I want to share some of the good lessons I learned from my relationships that didn’t last.
5. It's OK to Fight
I used to never argue. Never. If I felt an argument brewing, I would simply opt out, become dismissive, passive aggressive, or a combination of all three, but the one thing I wouldn’t do was argue. There are a few reasons I wouldn’t do this: 1) I don’t like to argue as it is; 2) I thought arguing meant the relationship was over; and 3) I didn’t know how to argue like an adult.
Regarding the last point, have you ever gotten into a heated debate with someone and the FIRST thing they say to you're already TURNT UP? I mean, how do you START an argument at a 10? That doesn’t make sense. Some people start every argument like it’ll be the last one they’ll ever have or they can apologize later and that disregards all the horriblethings they said to you earlier. Ummm, yeah, no. I didn’t like to argue, but as a result, by the time I finally got angry enough to say anything, I wasn’t trying to have a civilized discussion, talk about the issue at hand, or resolve anything. I was in it, to “win” it. Meaning whatever finally came out of my mouth was meant to dismiss you or shut you up, but it definitely wasn’t meant to continue the conversation.
Over the years, I’ve learned that small, control burns are better than scorched Earth. If I have a problem, I bring it up rather than hold it in until I’m ready to go nuclear. In other words, I give the person I’m with an opportunity to know what’s bothering me, to discuss it, and possibly correct it rather than simmer silently while they do a lot of small little things that eventually make me blow up in a fit of rage. It’s a simple, yet novel approach.
4. Xs are Xs for a Reason
One of my X’s and I have both gone on to live full, happy lives, separately and apart. We were together for a while, so every now and then it randomly hits me that this could have been "the one." Unfortunately, things happen in life that are completely outside of your control and you’ll never truly move forward if you don’t accept this fact. In order to move forward, I’ve had to accept the closure of past relationships, regardless of how they ended, because reconciling how a relationship ended isn’t always as important as accepting the fact that the relationship has ended. From there, you can truly begin to move forward and find the happiness you want and hopefully recognize you (and they) deserve.
3. I am the Common Factor
Like most men, I went through a “relationship aint sh*t phase.” However, in reality, I was attracting and dating a like-pattern of aint-sh*t partners because I was less than sh*t myself. The common factor was me, but because no one likes to hold a mirror up to themselves I felt more comfortable projecting my insecurities and blame onto everyone but myself. You settle for the types of relationships you think you deserve. Eventually, instead of blaming others for acting less than worthy, I took a look at myself and began asking the right question: why did I keep going after the same type of promiscuously inclined partners in the first place? After some much needed self-reflection, I realized that if I wanted a good partner in my life, I should probably stop settling for anything less than a good partner.2. Accept People as They Are
Back in the day, I used to think: “a person be a good soulmate for me if only…” This mindset was flawed from the beginning. In contrast, I should have accepted folk as they are and if they changed for the better great, but if they never changed at all, I should be fine with that too. This is referred to as dating the “potential person” rather than the person standing right in front of you. Neither way is really wrong but I’ve found the better route for me is to accept a person as they are instead of waiting for who they might be.1. Relationships Aren't Easy
Contrary to popular belief, although they shouldn’t feel like a job, relationships take work. When you’re single, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want and as long as what you’re doing isn’t illegal, it really doesn’t matter what you do, because you’re not going to have much impact on anyone beyond yourself. When you’re in a relationship, if you’re financially or emotionally reckless within a relationship, it no longer just impacts you. Your actions or inactions can – and usually do – have a direct impact on your partner. Realizing this took a certain level of maturity that I lacked when I was younger. Whether I was in or out of a relationship, I didn’t change very much because I championed the BS statement that “I shouldn’t have to change.” I became a better man when my first thoughts weren’t about myself but they became centered first and foremost on the relationship, since as the name implies, a relationship is about two people not just me as an individual. It’s true, I shouldn’t have to change, but if I don’t want to change, I either wasn’t ready to be in a relationship or I wasn’t in a relationship with the right person. It took me a long time to realize the subtle difference. This lesson will become more important as the impact of my decisions affect more and more people in the form of an expanding family I hope to one day be apart of.