10 Lifelong Lessons My Failed Relationships Taught Me About Making It Work

couple snuggling on the beach and laughing
Dani Vivanco

Failed relationships, though they are tough to get over, can also be a blessing in disguise.

Of course, this is a difficult thought to digest when you are fresh out of a relationship, but just know that at the end of your heartache, you will ultimately realize that you were better off without that person.

After looking back at my own failed relationships, I have seen a pattern in the things that went wrong. Acknowledging these things have helped guide me towards learning how to really make a relationship work.

You’ll start to see those little red flags that you so adamantly refused to see when you were with that person. You’ll start to realize that what you thought was love wasn’t actually love at all. And only then will you be able to see with much more clarity and take away some key learning as opposed to attempting to justify the things that didn’t work. Here is what I learned:

1. Don’t hold grudges.

Forgiveness is a key factor when it comes to love and relationships. If you’re holding grudges, then you’re not forgiving each other for past mistakes or arguments. Holding grudges shows that you are still holding them accountable for things in the past when it should have already been resolved.

2. Don’t keep score.

Relationships aren’t about winning or losing. It’s not about who cooks more meals, pays for more dates or washes more dishes. It’s not about who’s better at being a boyfriend or girlfriend. No one should be keeping score because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t matter. Everything you do for each other should be because you just love each other and want to make the other person happy. Plain and simple.

3. Say that you’re feeling.

No one is a mind reader, so unless you are effectively communicating how you feel, then the other person will never know. Instead of assuming that the other person knows how you feel, just tell them.

4. Trust each other fully.

Without trust, your relationship won’t go far. Trusting each other is extremely important in being able to naturally go about your life. If either of you is constantly in fear that the other person is doing wrong, then you’ll never be able to be yourself or feel comfortable in the relationship. No one should live that way.

5. Respect each other’s wishes.

If your partner has specifically told you what they do or do not like, then respect that. Don’t force them to do things that they don’t want to if they’ve already told you so. Have respect for their free will.

6. Be there for them when they need you.

As their partner, you should be their shoulder to cry on, their support system, their rock. If they are going through a difficult time or even just doing something that they want you to be present for, then show up. Be there for them to show them that you really care. Actions speak louder than words.

7. Don’t purposely do things that you know will upset them.

If you love someone, then why would you ever want to hurt their feelings? Why would you ever want to cause them pain? Why would you ever try to upset them? If either of you is purposely trying to hurt each other’s feelings, then that’s not love.

8. Don’t play the blame game.

When playing the blame game, everybody loses. Playing this game will only cause you to resent one another and it never really solves anything in the end. Being in a healthy, mature relationship is about swallowing your pride, owning up to your mistakes, and taking responsibility. Or even more so, just let it go.

9. Talk through your problems.

Talk through your problems. DO NOT yell. Communicate like adults and have a real conversation, not a heated altercation. Strive to get to the bottom of your issues, resolve them, and move on.

10. Accept their flaws.

We all have flaws. That’s what makes us human. Being in a relationship is about accepting the flaws of the person you’re with and loving them despite those flaws.

No relationship is perfect. There will always be cases of disagreement and points of frustration. Making it work is about putting those things behind you and sticking together through thick and thin. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Writer, Runner, Singer, New Yorker

Keep up with Lindsey on Instagram, Twitter and lindseylazarte.com

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