Now that I’m officially a “20-something,” I am realizing the importance of bad relationships, both romantic and platonic. It might sound weird, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s good, and maybe even healthy, to have some not-so-great relationships every once in a while.
It’s a reality check. It reminds us that we’re human, that we’re capable of feeling enough that it hurts to fight, to say goodbye, or to even exist in situations that are less than what we consider comfortable. It might seem like the worst thing in the world at the time, but every bad relationship is a lesson. If it’s not a lesson, it’s an experience or, at the very least, a story to tell one day.
Let’s just talk about the obvious and, at times, hardest to handle: romantic relationships. I have had my fair share of less-than-desirable outcomes when it comes to dating/talking/Netflix & Chilling/hooking up/whatever people want to call basically any situation involving a significant other, or whatever they call those now. There’s just something different about that taste of real heartbreak that gets you good, though. Some turn into angsty, dramatic middle schoolers when they’ve been dealt a bad hand in a romantic relationship. After you experience a “the world is ending” type breakup, one where you feel completely betrayed and mistreated, you might try to convince yourself that you’ll never open up the way you did for the one who really hurt you. Call me crazy, but I think that’s a good thing to accept.
Everyone wants to remember every single past relationship as a whirlwind of passion and love and beautiful happy memories all the time, but glorifying small victories in the midst of something that is clearly doomed is only acceptable when you’re looking at the grand scheme of your life and you’re sitting at home buried in potato chip crumbs and topping off your glass of wine (maybe that’s what I’m doing right now, who knows). Anyways, some people spend their whole lives searching and hoping to recreate those euphoric feelings they experienced when they really cared about a person. I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but you’re never going to give your heart to someone that same way again; the good news is that this is because now you know better. You’re also never going to have those exact feelings again, because the next person will be exactly that: new. Not a replica of the person who hurt you the first time.
If that sounds to cynical and harsh, keep in mind that it is still totally okay to be sad over the ending of a bad relationship. This isn’t about to become a spiel about moving on, but in accepting a bad relationship as that, you must also accept it for what it was in its entirety; a huge part of that will be your reaction toward that person’s departure from your life. Sure, you might have great memories, ones which you are more than welcome to hold onto to look back and smile at someday, but don’t let those cloud your view of the reality of the relationship. Whether it be a friend or a significant other, it is deemed a bad relationship for a reason. Don’t go back.
Remember that having a bad relationship doesn’t make you bad, and it certainly doesn’t make the other person bad, but it just means that the combination of you and that person is simply not a good one.
Basically, these relationships just prep you for the next ones (good ones, hopefully). They help you handle situations you weren’t ready for the first time around, they teach you how to love and how not to love, they show you what you do and don’t like and, most importantly, they give you a glimpse of what it feels like when it’s wrong.
Knowing what a bad relationship feels like will help you to not only recognize the warning signs of a poorly-matched relationship in the future, but it will also give you the opportunity to truly appreciate a good (and maybe even great) one when it happens.