7 June 2011
4 things you can learn from your ex
Life is all about learning. We learn from the moment we’re born, right through to the day we die. And yes, we even learn from our exes. Not convinced? Here are 4 things we know you’ve learnt from your past romances.
There’s little more emotionally painful than the end of a relationship. And the irony is that while we want to forget everything that happened something inside us wants us to relive everything that happened in the break-up in order to make some sense of the whole thing.
But, there are lessons we can learn from every relationship. In fact, focusing on these lessons can help ease the pain and better our future relationships. If you’re ready, then maybe it’s time to discover the four things your ex can teach you.
You learn what you really want (and what you really don’t want)
When you split from a partner, especially if the break-up wasn’t amicable, the easiest thing to learn is what you DON’T like in a relationship. Whether it was that they were rude to your friends or never remembered your birthday, these traits are important.
This is why we ask you to consider your Must Haves and Can’t Stands when you join eHarmony. After all, if something annoyed you about an ex, why get into a relationship with someone who will do the same thing again? What’s important though is to work out what genuinely annoyed you, and what was just mildly irritating. If your list of ‘Can’t Stands’ is as long as your arm, you might have a hard time finding a new partner to fit the bill!
Once you’ve figured out what you don’t like, you can move more easily onto what you DO want in a partner. Maybe you want someone who’s financially stable, or someone who likes to keep physically fit. As ever though, don’t get bogged down in the little things; there’s no such thing as perfection.
You learn about what really matters
When we’re little we imagine we’re going to become astronauts, rock stars or the Prime Minister. Then, as we grow up, most of us get a reality check and learn to be happy with a less idealised career. The same happens in relationships. When we’re younger, we have an idea of our ideal man or woman. Maybe he’s a mysterious dark haired musician who travels the world without a care. Maybe she’s a petite red headed barrister who won’t take no for an answer.
Whatever you think constitutes your ideal man or woman, time – and our past relationships – tells us that really there is no such thing. Whether someone is tall, short, blond or brunette, rich or poor, doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they ‘get’ you, and accept you for who you are. Many of us have dated that ‘ideal’ person only to find that when you’re sat at home on the sofa watching Dad’s Army repeats on a Sunday afternoon, the stuff you thought was important really isn’t.
You learn more about you
Above everything else, your exes help you learn even more about yourself. You inherently know your own strengths and weaknesses but within a relationship the game changes; a new depth of knowledge is created. In a serious relationship your partner gets to know you better than anyone else in the world. They see you at your best – and your worst.
Think back to the arguments you used to have with your ex. What did they throw back at you? Was it that you were too picky? Too passive? Too grumpy? Whatever it was, the chances are that they had a point. Those thoughts have to come from somewhere in order to be vocalised, and while we often say things in the heat of the moment that we don’t mean to, it doesn’t mean they’re not true.
Of course, insults that are spoken purely in anger don’t count, but consider the other stuff said when you were disagreeing. Thinking your ex might have had a point? Good. You now get to go forward with full knowledge of your flaws and become an even better partner in your next relationship.
You learn to give yourself a break
By taking a step back and analysing (but not over-analysing!) your exes, you can gain perspective. You may have dated the unavailable girl when you weren’t ready for a relationship, or the safe, comfortable guy after a particularly messy break-up. Whatever happened, those relationships defined certain times of your life, and you’ll have learnt something from each one.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and helps us realise that things tend to happen for a reason. There’s no reason to beat yourself up about past relationships, as they’re all part of the learning curve – and looking back only helps you see how far you’ve come.