RomanceBreaking Up

5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned From My Past Failed Relationships

it costs ZERO dollars to be a good person. In fact, you may even experience increased well-being simply by being a decent human being and respecting those around you.

I thought this was pretty universally well known, but turns out, it’s not.

On a serious note, I know I am far from perfect. I have messed up and hurt people (unintentionally) in my day, and for that I am sorry. We are all learning and growing as we go. However, as a writer, I feel it is my obligation to shed light on these lessons as I learn them, and it is my hope that in sharing my writing, you can learn and grow with me.

Lesson 1: Really Get To Know Someone Before You Dive In

Seems obvious, but this one is actually pretty hard for me. I tend to get so caught up in the whirlwind and excitement of a new relationship that I forget it takes a while to see someone’s true colors. It’s easy to put on a facade at first—I mean, we all do it—but the truth of who you are will come out eventually. I had to learn this the hard way recently when I dove headfirst into a relationship with someone I thought was my perfect match. We got along super well, had the same sense of humor, the same taste in music, the same love of the outdoors, etc. What I failed to realize is that even though you may get along swimmingly on the surface, everyone has their own dark undercurrent of feelings and experiences that shape who they are. We’ve all been through shit. We’ve been through hard things that shape how we react under pressure or stress, and it’s important to see this side of someone before you fully commit. Adult life is not easy and adult relationships are no joke—you WILL weather some storms sooner or later in your relationship, and how someone responds to those situations is telling. Lesson learned: Give yourself time to truly get to know someone and how they deal with the hard things.

Lesson 2: How You Let Someone Treat You Determines How You Will Be Treated

I know, I know, another no-brainer, but it bears repeating. How you let someone treat you determines how you will be treated. You cannot control how someone responds to certain events or situations, but you can control how you let them treat YOU. Even if you took the wrong approach, said something you didn’t mean, or did something you regret, you do not deserve to be disrespected. Ever. In the words of the great Maya Angelou, “If I’m not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?” Please put yourself and your respect first, because no one else will do it for you. You are human, you will fuck up, but you are worthy of love and respect, especially from those who claim to care about you. If you are a people-pleaser like moi, it can be easy to fall into the trap of being disrespected and wanting to win them back over. But let me tell you, disrespect is not a valuation of your worth, it is a sign of that person’s character. And please, do yourself this favor: When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

Lesson learned: Be a good person, own your mistakes, but never let someone disrespect your feelings or make you feel unworthy of the love you deserve.

Lesson 3: You Are Worthy Of Love

I’d like to Piggyback off the last lesson and expand on this truth. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been, you are worthy of love. I’ve talked about this before in my writing, and I will continue to talk about it because a) I need to remind myself of this truth and b) it is so important to remember. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from the beloved Brene Brown. Please take a moment to soak this in: “You are imperfect and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” We are ALL imperfect, we all have our own internal shit we deal with. That does not make you any bit less loveable than the next person. That gorgeous girl you passed in Target probably worries she’s not thin enough. That successful dude you follow on social media is possibly afraid he’s not measuring up. We all have our insecurities. It’s part of the human experience, and it can drive you to be better or it can drive you fucking crazy. As with everything in life, it’s up to you to decide how you let your insecurities shape your life.

Lesson Learned: I am as worthy of love as the next person.

Lesson 4: Your Insecurities Do Not Define You

Diving a bit deeper into that last point, let’s talk about insecurities.

Talking about insecurities requires a huge amount of vulnerability, and while not everyone is worthy of our vulnerability, I want to touch on this topic in hopes that it may help someone else who is struggling. I like to think of myself as a fairly confident person, but the truth is, I have a lot of insecurities around dating, my appearance, my mental health, etc. As a 33-year-old woman, I’ve done my fair share of dating, and each time it doesn’t work out, I tend to immediately blame myself for the demise.

“I’m obviously not pretty enough.”

“I’m not fun/funny enough.”

“I have too much emotional baggage.”

You get the picture.

If I’m not careful, these thoughts will consume me and I’ll chalk myself up to being a horrible person. The problem is, the less you love yourself, the harder it will be for anyone else to love you. If you aren’t happy with yourself, no amount of attention or energy from another person will make you feel better.

Let me get real with you for a second. I recently took out my hair extensions, let my eyelash extensions grow out, and broke out pretty bad on my face, and my first thought upon looking in the mirror was, “Who would want to be with me? I’m so ugly, there are so many more beautiful women out there.” Writing that out feels a little ridiculous—I mean, I’m a grown ass woman. I know there is more to life than looks, but that didn’t stop me from spiraling into deeply negative self-talk.

And when I’m not worried about my looks, I’m worried about my mental health. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with major depression and generalized anxiety disorder. While medication has helped tremendously, my mental health is still something I have to consistently work on. “Who would want to be with someone so fucked up?” is my typical negative self-talk around mental health. It seems like a valid question to me at times, but who is this kind of thinking serving? NO ONE. Absolutely no one. It sure as shit isn’t helping me, and it’s not helpful to the people trying to connect with me, either.

Insecurities will not magically go away by me telling you not to think that way. However, you do have the power to reconstruct your thoughts around them. Maybe that imperfection on your face/body or your delicate nature will be the precise thing that someone loves so much about you. The more you can accept that no one is perfect, that we’re all wired for struggle and we all deal with hard things, the easier it will be to love yourself as you are, and the easier it will be for someone to show you love.

Lesson learned: I am not my imperfections, and they do not measure my worth.

Lesson 5: Every Relationship Serves Its Purpose

It’s true. There are no rights and no wrongs when it comes to relationships. Beating yourself up about time spent with someone who maybe wasn’t right for you does not serve you. It will only reinforce the “see, I’m a no-good idiot” feelings that creep up when we aren’t careful. I’m not trying to say every relationship was fate or destiny, but what I can tell you from my experience is that every relationship teaches you something about yourself that you needed to learn—your actions, your thoughts, your likes and dislikes. When you’re treated poorly, it’s easy to dismiss the relationship as a mistake. But I challenge you to really stop and think about what that experience taught you and how you will use that information moving forward.

For me, I’ve realized I am far from perfect, I don’t handle confrontation well, and I could use a healthy dose of self-confidence. But I’ve also realized that despite my faults, I am a dime piece (we all are) and I deserve for my feelings to be heard and respected. I will not settle for anything less than I deserve, no matter how badly I want to have that wedding, that white picket-fenced house, and a couple crazy kids running around. I will not allow someone else’s actions to determine my self-worth, and I will love myself as I am… with or without extensions, with or without a couple extra pounds, with or without depression, with or without a man by my side.

Lesson Learned: “To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.” – Robert Morely TC mark

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About the author
I love elephants and just about died when I read that they consider humans to be "cute" in the same way humans consider puppies to be cute. Follow Melina on Instagram or read more articles from Melina on Thought Catalog.

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