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A Positive Spin: Learning Self-Respect Through a Series of Failed Relationships

Residing in our current socio-cultural climate and progressing through the psychological stages of development into adulthood, many adolescent females are fed an analogous narrative despite the geographical variance of where they reside. Simply put, women of all localities are frequently encouraged to wait for a “knight in shining armor,” a man who will protect them with his sheer male dominance and unbending courage. Truth be told, there is no chivalrous knight and no ideal savior, we must ourselves become our own champions and self-sufficient saviors. 

Having been fed this incoherent narrative, some young women may yearn for an ideal high school relationship conducive to societies approval and applause. Such a relationship will undoubtedly persist well beyond the enclosed walls of the high school corridors and its classroom, they so assume. Fortunately, this is far from reality for most, including myself. 

Why do I say fortunately? The answer is rather simplistic, because there is so much inevitable growth one will encounter as they develop and mature well into adulthood. In saying so, I do not intend to negate nor unnecessarily slander high school relationships (on the contrary, I applaud you), but as I will discuss, relationships inculcate oneself with vital knowledge. Consequently, I would never retract any of my past relationships although they have all proceeded rather unpleasantly and oftentimes concluded rather spitefully. Through my series of failed relationships, I have learned a multitude of imperative lessons all of which remain central to my personal well-being and enduring happiness. Here are some of my most important pieces of learned knowledge:

1. Rid yourself of people who make you feel like you are hard to love​

Seemingly obvious, my previous relationships have taught me exactly what I deserve and what I ought to receive in return. In many of them, I often felt like my partner’s backbone: always encouraging, always ready to offer sincere and genuine praise or approval, and avidly listening to their complaints and grumbles. But unfortunately, I never received much in return. On the contrary, I felt disposable like my candid efforts held little to no worth. In turn, such relationships left me feeling depleted, unacknowledged and unappreciated. Reflecting upon these experiences, I fully understand my expectations and relationship prospects. Through my flawed relationships, I have grown to better understand my self-worth. 

2. Rid yourself of anyone who is excessively persistent 

Because, simply put, the word ‘no’ and ‘never’ are NOT subjective. Through successive depictions in films and other media platforms, society has taught women to view a persistent partner pursuing his/her love interest with zealous fervor and dedicated vehemence as something desirable and romantic; in reality, it is anything but. It’s another flawed cultural narrative that is ill-advised and bothersome at best; it also maintains hazardous implications for consent. Moreover, this instilled narrative reeks of male entitlement, a subliminal cultural message that society all too often normalizes. Rather than accepting rejection and moving on, society encourages men to take ‘no’ as a ‘maybe’; but frankly, ‘no’ and ‘never’ are firmly objective in their terminology. Men must learn to respect the word ‘no’ and retreat when asked to do so. A persistent, tenacious partner who refuses to recede is something no women should ever tolerate.

Here is illuminating example from a ‘love’ letter I once received, “I won’t give up on you no matter how hard you push me away, no matter how much you hate me…Nothing you can ever say or do will make me stop loving you.” Sounds sweet and charming? Nope, it’s not. Its deplorable. 

3. Opt for people who inspire and challenge you

This point is rather simple and unpretentious. Opt for a partner that pushes your boundaries and facilitates your personal growth and maturation. Opt for people who broaden your horizon and challenge your self-imposed limitations. Choose a partner who supports you, believes in your cause, and encourages you through all of life’s obstacles and perplexing undercurrents. Opt for someone who loves you for everything that you are and everything that you are not. Choose an intelligent, joyous partner that gives you hope and motivates you to become the best version of yourself.

Through my relationship failures, I have learned more than I would have ever initially anticipated. I am thankful for these mishaps and learning experiences as I now know precisely what I want and what I expect.

Remember these fine words: “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. BUT THERE IS NO REAL SECURITY IN WHAT NO LONGER MEANINGFUL. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life and in change there is power.” -Alan Cohen

And again, NEVER SETTLE. Invest in yourself first. 

You are driven. You are bright and keen, ready for all of life’s perplexing obstacles. You are talented and motivated. You are beautiful both in spirit and in physical radiance. You are deserving of unconditional love and respect. Never settle for anyone who doubts your potential and negates your dreams. Opt for a partner that appreciates both your facets and deficits.

On my personal, individualized growth journey toward happiness. Currently studying Applied Psychology and Spanish, pursuing a career in Social Work and Mental Health.  "You presume you are small entity, but within you is enfolded the entire universe" --Imam Ali ****strong opinions, weakly held****  
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