What My Past Relationships Have Taught Me About Dating

Relationships. So tricky to develop and maintain, yet so necessary for human beings. We all need some sort of connection with other people. But, it’s so hard to find people who you can truly relate to and those who are willing to put in the effort to maintain the relationship.

Relationships require a lot of patience, time, vulnerability and effort, and sometimes, you can get hurt. Honestly, sometimes it really sucks when you’re freshly out of a relationship, but in retrospect, it’s sometimes the only way to learn more about yourself and your preferences.

Pexels/TanTan Danh Thanks to my past relationships, I’ve come to understand more about myself in terms of my standards and expectations for what a healthy relationship looks like and the preferences I have for my partner. The entire cycle of a relationship can be super exhausting with initially meeting someone, getting to know each other, going on dates, making things official, going through the honeymoon stage, getting comfortable and eventually, going back to being strangers. On the bright side, with each stage and new experience, you can learn something new and further implement those lessons into your relationships moving forward. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from my past relationships:

First, try to be friends first. In my own experience and looking at others’ experiences, I’ve noticed that the best relationships are those that happen organically and have a firm foundation that stems from friendship. Even if you feel like a guy in your friend group will always stay in the friendzone, you don’t know what will happen in the future, so be open-minded to the idea that anything can change.

For my past relationships, almost none of them started off from a firm friendship. On one side, I do appreciate that I didn’t lose a friendship along with the relationship. But, on the other hand, I think not starting off from a friendship led to short-lived relationships once my partner and I discovered that we weren’t really compatible or weren’t looking for the same things in a relationship. Although having good chemistry is important, I believe that compatibility is a higher priority. Having different values, music tastes, communication styles and relationship expectations can breed resentment and mistrust in a relationship.

That being said, it brings me to my second point, which is to make sure to each have your own individual support systems. Having your own individual set of friends is important in making sure that you can have some sort of independence from your partner. It’s not healthy to spend every minute of your time with your partner. You need to have some separation whether that’s spending time with yourself or with your friends. It might be a little harder if you’re in the same friend group, but I’m sure that you also have some friends that aren’t mutually shared with your significant other.

Dustin Belt, Unsplash It’s also important to have those friends to go to for advice and who can share some outside perspectives as a third party looking into your relationship. Sometimes, it’s hard to see a problem in your relationship when you’re in it. You may be blinded by the good parts of the relationship, but your individual friends can help provide an objective opinion.

Third, don’t settle for less. I’m sure that this is much easier said than done. When you find someone who you’re attracted to and can converse well with, sometimes, it can lead you to overlook the small, yet critical red flags that pop up. If you decide to pursue that relationship further while pushing those red flags away, you might end up hurt, and those red flags may result in a very short-lived relationship.

As humans, experiencing something new can lead to feelings of joy and excitement. But, we shouldn’t mistake novelty for love. Those feelings that you experience from the thrill of being interested in someone or having someone be interested in you are momentary. Those feelings will come and go, and judging your compatibility with that person based on those feelings may be unreliable.

Reflect on why you’re interested in that person, and don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable or real with yourself. Can you truly imagine a future with them? Is a relationship with that person worth overlooking those red flags? What exactly do you like about that person, and is it something that won’t fade over time? Are you interested in that person or the idea you’ve created of them? Ask yourself these questions if you truly seek to have a long-term relationship.

two people resting their heads on each other's shoulders, backs facing the camera Photo by Külli Kittus from Unsplash Remember that you’re worthy of better, and this person in your life isn’t the last potential partner you’ll come across. Even if you were initially interested in that person for whatever reason, you are 100% entitled to change your mind about them. Some of the things that the person will do are things that are literally the bare minimum, so don’t get easily stumbled or attracted to that person just because of those small things that they should have been doing anyway.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to do what’s best for you. Sometimes what’s best for you isn’t what the other person in the relationship wants. They may feel disappointed or upset, but that is okay. It is okay to disappoint people when you’re doing what’s best for you. It’s not selfish. If that person truly cares for you, they will respect and trust your ability to make decisions about your own life. If they don’t, they’re not worth your time. Let them go because it most likely will end unless that person learns to respect you.

Moving forward, I sincerely hope that you are able to find someone who is worth your time and effort - someone who is willing to put in the time to really build a firm foundation for a long-lasting relationship to grow, and someone who will be considerate of your needs and desires.

It most likely won’t be very easy to come across that person, but be patient. Use this time of being single to grow as a person and to become a better potential partner for your future significant other. As you grow and develop yourself, you will organically attract someone similar to you and your interests. You will meet that person once you are emotionally available and mature enough to handle an adult relationship.

Love yourself written on wall Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst/Shopify That being said, it’s actually hard to practically implement these lessons into my current relationships, but I firmly believe that being aware of these lessons and reflecting on your true intentions for pursuing a relationship is a good place to start. No matter what happens in a relationship, there is always something to learn from it, so don’t push yourself into thinking that you’re not worthy of genuine and good love. I hope that you are soon able to find that person in your life and that your relationship is able to thrive and be healthy!