After the end of a 10 year marriage, I knew, to gain some peace from the endless self-recrimination, I had to make some lemonade from the barrel of lemons that the relationship had turned into. So one evening, instead of feeling sorry for myself I sat down and listed all the things I had learned. The actions I would not repeat; the behavior I would not put up with in a future relationship. That list ran to over a hundred items and many, many scribbled journal pages. Eventually I distilled them down to 20 lessons I learned after breaking up.
Twenty Life Lessons I Learned After Breaking Up With My Ex
1. Life does not end after breaking up. It might feel like you have come screeching to a dead halt after a relationship ends. Where do you go from here? How can you recover? When you are down as far as you can go, give yourself a little time. Things change dramatically and even within a few days you’ll begin to see a way through.
2. Don’t expect your partner to change because you want them to. They will change, as most of us do, but it has to be their choice. You cannot make a person change their nature or even their behavior.
3. In the same vein, you cannot change enough to make them happy. You can change yourself, but do not bend to suit their demands. The demands will keep coming and you will end up broken.
4. Keep 50% of your love for yourself. One of the basic tenets of a successful relationship is that you should love yourself. If you don’t, you could end up being trodden on like a doormat. Having love for who you are is the same as having self-respect. If you don’t love you, they won’t either.
5. If you are suddenly suspicious they might be cheating, they probably are. Your intuition is almost always correct. Unless you are one of those people who constantly believe your partner is cheating when they aren’t. That’s something you need to address; it’s a sign of neediness.
6. Walking on eggshells does not make a smooth path to everlasting love. Should you find yourself always watching your words, or behaving in a way so as not to upset them, you are heading for relationship hell.
7. Life is too short to be unhappy in your relationship. Give yourself a time limit to work things out. Communicate, work on it, but don’t settle for less than you want. So if you are not seeing an improvement after, say, three months, consider that you might have a better future without them.
8. It’s not their job to fix you. It is their job to support you in times of stress, need, or other crisis. And yours to support them. But they cannot fix your long-term problems, only you can do that.
9. Just because the relationship failed, doesn’t make you a failure. It feels like that at first. You ask yourself if you broke it. If you could have saved it. Know that you didn’t fail, you simply made a new choice.
10. If love is leaking away faster than you can refill the bucket, it’s better to slip away with it. When your love seems to be lessening, it’s very hard to turn things around. If the idea of a leaky bucket resonates with you, it might be time to end it.
11. Don’t fight when either or both are drunk. You may learn this the hard way, but try to remember through the fog of alcohol, it never goes well. Go to sleep and agree to discuss the issue in the morning.
12. Learning what you don’t want will help you to know what you do want. Often a difficult relationship can highlight the things you can’t put up with. Knowing these things will give you a head start next time.
13. You can’t make someone fall in love with you unless they want to. There is no worse relationship pain than loving someone who doesn’t love you. Be sad, but walk away.
14. Know them by their deeds not just their words. The same goes for you. Do what you say you will. Keep your promises.
15. Sometimes it is your fault. Because it just is. None of us are perfect and we all do and say stupid things. Often we are hurtful without meaning to be. Accept responsibility for your mistakes.
16. Be cautious before committing to shared responsibilities, whether it be children, pets or a mortgage. These things can keep you in a relationship long after the love has disappeared. Having shared commitments can seem like a good idea at the time, but they can make extricating yourself from a failing relationship a hundred times more difficult. Be sure that you both want the same things.
17. Never be financially dependent. It is so important to have a small, or not-so-small, financial reserve of your own. You can be up front and open about it from the beginning, but everyone needs to have an emergency fund apart from your joint funds.
18. Always be willing to discuss a problem and don’t get defensive. Your partner has a genuine issue so do them the courtesy of hearing them out. Listen to what they have to say and ask for time to think it over. The worst thing you can do is to get angry and defensive. It’s a good idea to have these strategies built in and agreed upon when you first make a long-term commitment.
19. When they shout or snap at you don’t respond. Resist the knee-jerk response when they are irritated or grumpy. Let their words echo in the silence. They will probably apologize with no further input from you.
20. As soon as you are able, forgive them. Forgiveness frees your soul. Even after the break-up. Even after they have treated you badly. Heal your heart by practicing the art of forgiveness. And forgive yourself too.
What important lessons did you find you’d learned after breaking up? If you need help finding the positives in a painful ending, call one of our brilliant relationship psychics.