5 Life Lessons my Breakups Taught Me

I’m going to confess something very personal: I’m a hopeless romantic and I always wear my heart on my sleeve. This has led to me getting to know many brilliant individuals through my relationships, but it’s also inevitably led to me getting my heart broken one too many times. 

Believe it or not, there are a lot of positives to that statement. The old sayings are true, you learn a lot about yourself and what you want from your relationships, and you truly mature and become the best version of yourself when you’ve had time to contemplate and be single. On top of that, I can now pass on the life lessons I’ve learned from those relationships to you guys. Every relationship will be different because everyone is different, but here are some things I’ve learned that are pretty standard across most relationships. I hope this helps you out, whether you’re currently going through a break-up or would like to know for your next relationship.

1. You can’t control everything 

After experiencing the pain of going through a break-up, it’s easy to develop different coping mechanisms that affect your next relationships. This isn’t an uncommon trend - we’re human and it’s our natural instinct to try to avoid pain at all costs. For some people, this means trying to plan out how your next relationship will go or trying to predict when the relationship might end to emotionally prepare yourself for potential heartache. But I want to ask you something important: if you’re spending all your time in a relationship mentally preparing yourself for something painful that might not even happen, then how much time are you spending just enjoying the actual relationship? The more you try to control, the less quality time you actually get with your significant other. They might even sense your pessimism and drift away, or get stressed at the idea of having to prove you wrong. Just cherish what you have when you have it, and whatever happens will happen.

2. Watching them move on will sting

This sounds kind of obvious, but the heartache from watching an old flame find a new muse can be so painful that I had to mention this in my list. One day, you might think you’re over somebody. You might have already analyzed all the reasons why you two would never work out, and you might not even think about them anymore. Then suddenly, you see that person holding hands with someone else in the hallways. And even though deep down you know for a fact that you don’t actually want them back, you can’t stop the tears or the nausea. That’s okay, and that’s completely normal. Know what type of person you are, would you feel better knowing about this in advance or would you rather just try not to know at all? There really is no cure for this feeling except time and distractions, but I wanted to warn you about this type of pain ahead of time.

3. Remember: sometimes we’re to blame 

I’m not going to lie, I was hesitant to put this on the list because the last thing I want is for you to automatically blame yourself when something goes wrong, or for you to think that you’re not good enough, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. However, there is such a big difference between blaming yourself for everything bad that happens and owning up to the mistakes you’ve actually made. I find that after a period of time has passed, a lot of people tend to view their past relationships in a negative light, highlighting all of their exes’ flaws and putting themselves up on a pedestal. They start to set a default mode of believing that they are always the better person who deserves so much more and that they were way out of their exes’ league. And a lot of times, this is true - if your ex was a horrible person to you, then heck yeah you deserve way better! 

But here’s something you might not want to hear: Sometimes, it can be partially our fault as well. Maybe your ex made you believe that they wanted a long-term relationship when they really wanted something short-term, which definitely isn’t right. But maybe you constantly rushing them to make a decision about your relationship status didn’t help the situation either. I truly believe that analyzing breakups from an objective point of view, instead of a biased perspective, is what helps you grow and improve as a person. We’re human and we’re going to inevitably make mistakes in our relationships, so why don't we admit it? We can’t improve and become better versions of ourselves if we don’t allow ourselves to see where we went wrong in the first place.

4. If you don’t want it, end it 

Breaking up with someone sounds simple but is so much easier said than done. Trust me, it can be incredibly difficult to actually do it. In the moment it’s really easy to keep making excuses to delay the inevitable. Maybe you don’t want to hurt them and be the bad guy. Maybe you’re hoping things will change in the near future. Or maybe you guys have too much history and you’re scared of letting go. Let me tell you from experience, if you know that you’re losing feelings now, the chances of that changing anytime soon are pretty slim. You’re better off breaking up now when you don’t want the relationship anymore rather than prolonging it an extra few months. It also gives the other person more time to move on, and trust me, a giant weight will be lifted off your shoulders once you do it. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to let go. I can’t explain the regret I felt over not taking action sooner, so please don’t make my mistake. Everyone I know that has gone through this feels the same way - they can’t seem to let go of the relationship when they are in it, then once they leave, they can’t fathom why they let it go on for so long in the first place.

5. Keeping in contact delays the move-on process 

When a break-up happens, I know the natural instinct is to try to hold onto whatever crumbs the other person leaves, especially if it’s fresh and you haven’t moved on yet. This could mean stalking their social media to see if there are any new girls or guys on their feed, re-reading old messages, or trying to contact them every now and then to stay friends. But when the break-up is fresh and your feelings are still present, I highly advise against all of that. When you keep any part of them in your life, you’re not allowing your wounds to heal because the cause of your pain is always present. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever be friends, that really depends on you and the amount of time you need to move on. But try not to rush a friendship right after being dumped so that you can really just focus on becoming the best version of yourself instead of spending your time subconsciously getting your hopes up. The times where I’ve moved on the fastest are the times where I haven’t seen any activity or updates about my exes at all.

No matter what stage of the break-up you’re currently going through, I hope you eventually reach a point you’re able to appreciate your past relationships for what they were instead of what they could have been. Keep your head up, let yourself cry if you need to, and surround yourself with your friends and family. You can make it through this, and I genuinely believe in you.