This is a trap we can sometimes get caught in when a relationship ends— thinking that it was a waste of our time. But just because it didn’t last forever doesn’t mean it wasn’t significant. Every relationship that has ever existed inspires changes in both parties involved, on conscious and subconscious levels.
We may pine away for the person who left us brokenhearted, thinking that somehow our lives would be better if that person decided to come back into our lives. We might reflect on all the moments of stolen time the person took up in our life, cursing them and ourselves for focusing energy upon them rather than pursuing our passions or interests. We might think that a relationship has to last forever, or else there was no point. Sometimes people come into our lives for only a season, to teach us lessons, and other times they remain more significant fixtures in our lives.
Life is short, and our time to do what we love and be with our loved ones is limited. At the same time, life is also the longest thing you’ll ever experience. The way I now see relationships are that they are learning and teaching experiences. Our interactions with others, whether they are romantic or otherwise, big or small, change and influence us forever. Since this is the case, they are always significant, because they help us grow into the person we will eventually become.
Even if that relationship wasn’t the one that lasted forever (and anyways, forever is not guaranteed—for example, my father was widowed by my mother, the love of his life), you probably learned some valuable lessons from it that you couldn’t have learned any other way, so it certainly was not a waste of time. Maybe you stayed in the relationship longer than you needed to in order to learn those lessons, but as long as the lesson was learned, at the end of the day, that’s what’s important.
Don’t think that any relationship was a waste of time. Try to remember both the good times and the bad. Whether the other person involved will understand the full extent of what you taught them now or later down the line is unimportant. Know that they did learn from you as well, and try to focus on the lessons you learned from the connection rather than feeling like it was pointless.