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8 Lessons Learned from Failed Relationships That No One Will Tell You, so I Will

8 Lessons Learned from Failed Relationships That No One Will Tell You, so I Will

When relationships end with significant others or friends, we are often left wondering how to pick up the pieces. We turn to friends and family who offer kind messages and sage advice on how to move on with our lives, but there are overlooked lessons we forget about as we process our breakups. Below are key lessons about failed relationships that no one will tell you about.

1. Over analysis is the enemy of progress.

When a relationship ends, we may spend countless hours dissecting countless situations in an attempt to discover what went wrong. Our minds act like detectives, revisiting scenes and hypothetical situations to find clues and witnesses that attest to what caused the relationship’s end. We recruit friends to become therapists, as we relentlessly analyze our feelings about the one who is no longer a part of our lives. The hours we spend examining and re-examining the past are part of the healing process, but overdoing it can prevent us from living in the present and moving toward the future. Instead of spending hours trying to understand why a relationship ended, we can spend some of that time better understanding who we are without that person in our lives.

2. Treat yourself how you want others to treat you.

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    If we leave a failed relationship feeling demoralized, disheartened and undervalued, we may also question if anyone will ever love and value our qualities, quirks and specialness (of course the answer to that is yes, someone will). Rather than looking to others to validate what makes us lovable and unique, we have to look in the mirror and start with ourselves. Treating ourselves the way we want others treat us means that we give ourselves compassion, love, patience and care. It also means that we create moments and experiences where we are able to shine and be our best selves.

    3. Don’t fall into the blame game trap.

    When we end a relationship with someone, we may try to assign blame by pointing fingers at ourselves or the other person involved. When we blame the other person, we can find ourselves getting angry or feeling justified for our own mistakes and transgressions. When the finger is pointed at ourselves, we feel guilt and shame, wondering if it was our own doing that caused the breakup. Yet, each perspective prevents us from understanding the key factors that contributed to a relationship ending, and from learning important lesson that can be used to strengthen current and future relationships.

    4. Healing is not a linear process.

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      The end of a relationship brings with it a spectrum of feelings where our emotions go from grief to relief, sadness to joy, and anger to excitement. As we travel along those spectrums, we may find that one day we feel like we’re on top of the world, to then feel instantly distressed when we see reminders of a past relationship. In that moment, we feel as if all of the progress we’ve made has gone down the drain, which is further from the truth. The healing process does not follow a straight line. Instead, it is more like a roller coaster where we can experience a multitude of feelings all at once.

      5. You may relapse, and that is okay.

      After we break off a relationship, we may vow to never see the other person again, and throw away mementos and keepsakes that remind us of him or her. However, a situation may occur within our lives that only that person will understand, or a holiday arrives where we feel compelled to see how he or she is doing. Infrequent text messages turn into phone calls, which become coffee dates, which lead to hanging out on a regular basis. Then old harmful issues arise, which cause us to feel so naïve, guilty, and ashamed for trying to rekindle something that should’ve remained in the past. When beat ourselves up over our relapses into old relationships, we should remind ourselves that each step back teaches us about recovery, as they give us the opportunity to know better in case there is a next time.

      6. Remember the good, and not just the bad and ugly.

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        Thinking about a failed relationship often causes us to recall how it ended and not how it began, or we focus on the other person’s negative qualities rather than appreciating the good ones. Sometimes, even if we have something more positive to say about our former friend or partner, we add a qualifier to our statement—“Marsha is a so creative, but was a horrible listener.” Focusing on someone’s negative qualities shows that we are still holding onto the anger and hurt that the relationship caused. Remembering the good allows us to keep a healthier perspective about the relationship. It also indicates that we’ve truly moved on from our failed relationship because we are no longer holding on to those negative feelings.

        7. Forgiveness is the greatest gift to give yourself.

        True forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to ourselves because it means that we can let go of past hurts that impact the potential for present happiness. In forgiving ourselves for our mistakes or perceived transgressions, we give ourselves permission to recognize our humanity. We realize that life goes on, and that tomorrow is another day to learn a brand new lesson. In forgiving others we are able to release the power they have within our hearts and minds. That is not to say that we should try to be best friends with someone that’s done something hurtful to us. However, it means that we should let the anger, hurt, and disappointment be transformed into something brighter, lighter, and more meaningful so we do not carry that pain within us.

        8. Happy diversions are great, until they are not.

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          When a relationship ends, we may immerse ourselves in work, household projects, or hobbies. We become more social, trying to find new experiences, activities and people to fill the space in our lives left empty by the person we lost. In those moments we feel happy and excited to explore our interests and undertake new ventures. However, if we have not coped with the pain of a failed relationship, these happy diversions can bury feelings of hurt and sadness, until the day comes when they rise to the surface, putting us in a place of despair. Therefore, we should do those things that make us feel good about ourselves, while also processing the pain of a failed relationship.

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          Last Updated on May 21, 2019

          How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

          How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

          For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

          If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

          Example 1

          You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

          You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

          In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

          Example 2

          You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

          People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

          You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

          Example 3

          You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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          The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

          Example 4

          You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

          Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

          If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

          Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

          • Understand your own communication style
          • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
          • Communicate with precision and care
          • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

          1. Understand Your Communication Style

          To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

          In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

          Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

          2. Learn Others Communication Styles

          Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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          If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

          “How do you prefer to receive information?”

          This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

          To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

          3. Exercise Precision and Care

          A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

          On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

          Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

          I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

          I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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          In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

          The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

          Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

          4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

          Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

          In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

          “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

          Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

          Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

          It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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          It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

          It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

          Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

          Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

          The Bottom Line

          When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

          I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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          Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

          Reference

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