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5 Ways to Learn From Past Relationships

by Eharmony Editorial Team - July 14, 2008

Single again? Take heed of the old adage "What doesn't break you makes you grow stronger" and discover how to find something positive in relationship failures.

Single again? Take heed of the old adage “What doesn’t break you makes you grow stronger” and discover how to find something positive in relationship failures.

Breakups might leave you feeling bereft but every failed relationship comes with a lesson, be it good or bad. Ultimately they will help you establish what you’re looking for in a match and make you a happier and healthier person.  Find out how to get the best out of difficult experiences and your newly single status.

Lesson 1: accept that not all relationships last
Once you accept that some relationships are temporary, you can learn to stop blaming yourself for what you see as relationship failures. Instead take them for what they are – helpful life lessons.  They might be painful but breakups happen for a reason.

As a singleton, the benefit of hindsight should help you see that you just weren’t compatible with previous partners. Perhaps your personalities didn’t fit well, your goals weren’t the same and your priorities conflicted. If you’re honest with yourself you’ll admit that you’re much better off as a result of the relationship and breakup than you would have been had you not experienced them at all. Thankfully, as eHarmony founder and relationship author Dr Neil Clark Warren can attest, “choosing a partner successfully is a skill you can develop.”

Lesson 2: learn how to apply lessons
Look at past relationships and reassess your priorities now you’re single. For example, you may never have known the value of being someone who always puts you first had you not experienced a relationship with a partner whose priorities were work, hobbies or friends. Or you may not have realised the importance of happy family relationships if you hadn’t dated someone with a dysfunctional family. Take these lessons and apply them to future relationships, looking for warning signs before it’s too late.

Lesson 3: look in the mirror

Blaming a partner entirely for a breakup won’t get you anywhere. Look at what you could improve about your own behaviour in a relationship. Do you communicate your feelings enough? Are you too strong-headed? Think about what has negatively impacted your past relationships before entering a new one. But also establish your strengths as confidence is paramount.

Lesson 4: take stock of your own life
Don’t expect future partners to fix you. In fact, if your ideal partner were to find you in mess, chances are he would make a speedy retreat. It’s vital to take steps to change what it is that you don’t like about your life. If you’re struggling with debt, attempt to sort the situation, little by little. It’s up to you to make your life appealing as a single person. You and future matches need to be happy as individuals before becoming a couple.

Lesson 5: value single time

There will always be those who float from relationship to relationship. But this isn’t something to envy. You need to be able to rely on yourself, not others. Time as a singleton helps you heal after a breakup, learn your lessons and discover your own resilience, which you won’t be able to do if you jump straight back into a relationship. Plus, it allows for some important ‘me’ time…. and being single for a bit can be fun!

Learn all about ladies’ night and how to invite friends to see ‘What’s Your Number?’!