Failed relationships can be trying times in our lives. They bring a variety of questions about our partner, situation, and ourselves. The time of recovery from failed relationships is longer if we wallow in self-pity or get wrapped up in how things could’ve gone differently. Therefore, it is important to consider three main concepts when learning lessons from our failed relationships. These concepts are self-reliance, recognition of patterns, and self-evaluation.
According to a study on relationships and behavior by Dixon, most people are self-reliant and capable of having a relationship with equal involvement on both sides. However, some people can find themselves trapped in codependent relationships; this is a type of relationship where one person enables their partner’s poor decisions or afflictions because it provides them with purpose. When people spend a significant amount of time in this kind of relationship, it pollutes their concept of oneself and makes them feel worthless without someone. Not only is this a toxic relationship that is hard to leave, but it will influence future relationships in the same way.
Developing self-reliance is a key factor in creating wholesome relationships. It is easier said than done once you become firmly rooted in dependence on others. Recognizing and accepting that you get involved with codependent relationships is an important first step. Creating self-reliance revolves around improving your self-image so that you feel like you should take care of yourself. This does not mean that you should go at it alone, but that you are capable of being alone without the need of a relationship to define you. Two things that can help you become more self-reliant is assuming responsibility for your actions, making your own decisions, and having a plan for your future. Expressing yourself is also an important part of self-reliance.
Recognition of Patterns in Relationships
Everyone is attracted to certain qualities in a partner, and this is something that is unlikely to change. However, it is important to take note of where some of these qualities have taken us in relationships. It is important to evaluate not only what we want, but why we want it. We might crave an older partner, for example, because we want to replace a parental relationship we never experienced. It could also be that we admire our parents and search for partners with similar qualities. Maybe we prefer people with emotional problems or dependencies because we want to provide the kind of fulfillment we never received as a child. There is a never-ending list of reasons why we could be attracted to certain qualities, even if they’re negative ones.
Some patterns are worth keeping if they provide us with quality relationships. Other times we develop codependent or unfulfilling relationships because of our attraction to certain people. Recognizing why we are attracted to certain things and what we could do to get away from negative patterns is vital to having healthy relationships.
Another factor in identifying patterns is to see them in the relationship itself. Noticing what certain behaviors lead to can help us avoid repeating painful mistakes in the future. For example, remembering the behavioral changes that led to someone being unfaithful could prevent a relationship from dragging on; this is, of course, a double-edged sword. It is important to learn from past mistakes and apply our recognition of patterns but remember that this is someone new. They can have an entirely different set of values than the previous partner.
Self-evaluation is a part of self-reliance in a way but deserves a bit of fleshing out. It can be easy and convenient to blame a failed relationship solely on the other person. In some particular cases, this may even be true. However, we must evaluate ourselves to understand what we might have done to cause the relationship to fail. Rarely does the blame for a failed relationship fall on one person. Even if one person may be more responsible for the collapse, both sides tend to make a contribution.
We also need to look at how we react to events within our relationships; this helps us feel out partners during the dating process before we commit to something serious. Maybe we prefer to do certain household tasks ourselves or handle financial aspects of the relationship with a shared investment. Relationships require cooperation and input from both sides, but we should consider how ceding control of something will affect our feelings.
Failure is Not a Waste
Not all relationships are successful, but relationships that fail are not a waste of time. We benefit from failure in all things in life including relationships because of the lessons we learn, and the memories we make. Do not be afraid of failing, and always be willing to try again.