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Things to learn from past relationships: Lessons to learn from breakups and divorces

Updated on November 7, 2013

What have you learnt from your past relationship? Did you think about the mistakes you made in your last marriage? What did you realize after your breakup? What lessons did your divorce teach you? Once you are over the heartbreak, think about your past relationship and think about all the things you could have done better – looking out for your own happiness, dealing with jealousy and other relationship problems, spotting early signs of abuse and lots more.

Grab a warm comfy hot cup of coffee and reflect on your past relationship. Hindsight is actually life's biggest teacher.
Grab a warm comfy hot cup of coffee and reflect on your past relationship. Hindsight is actually life's biggest teacher. | Source

1) Learning not to take blame for all the problems in a relationship

Two people are responsible for all problems in a relationship. Under no circumstances should you be bullied or convinced into believing that all the problems in a relationship were because of your behavior.

Spend a lazy Sunday afternoon sipping a hot cuppa and thinking about the issues that brought your relationship down. You will see that both you and your ex are to be blamed jointly and equally. This may not be true in extreme cases where one of the partners has cheated on the other.

2) Not letting other situations and people affect your relationship

Letting other people and outside situations affect relationships is a mistake that many girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands and wives are guilty of making. Here are some classic examples of how this happens.

  • A girlfriend starts doubting her boyfriend just because her friends don't like him
  • A wife nags her husband to take the whole family on an overseas trip just because all of her friends have been on one
  • A husband succumbs to the taunts of his work colleagues and proposes to his girlfriend even when he is not ready to bear the responsibilities of marriage

Coming out of your past relationship will suddenly make you realize how silly you were to be drawn into letting peer pressure and other outside influence affect your relationship in a negative way.

3) Not sacrificing your own happiness

Reflecting on how your past relationship panned out will make you realize how wasteful it was to sacrifice your own happiness for the sake of your relationship. This will help you draw the line when you find yourself letting go of your own happiness in the next one.

Your own happiness is too precious to be sacrificed. No matter how much you love someone, you must never let your own happiness take a beating all the time.

4) Understanding what you want from a relationship

Coming out of a relationship will be an eye-opener for you in terms of recognizing your own needs. Whether it is commitment, love, dependency or freedom - you will be able to exactly identify what you needed from a relationship, and you didn't get.

Think about your breakup and find out what caused the love to taper off. Don't immerse yourself into the small details and arguments. Look at the bigger picture to identify your core needs from a relationship.

Let your past relationship teach you when to put your foot down and refuse to compromise on matters that are close to your heart.
Let your past relationship teach you when to put your foot down and refuse to compromise on matters that are close to your heart.

5) Reflect on the things you are unwilling to compromise on

Every man and woman has a set of morals and beliefs that give rise to expectations from others, including partners. Coming out of a failed relationship will help you reflect up these core morals that you harbor in your heart. These are the expectations that you are unwilling to compromise upon.

For example, suppose you broke up with your boyfriend because he wanted to move-in with you whereas you were totally against a live-in relationship. It was something you were unwilling to compromise upon and it eventually led to your breakup.

Apart from this example, there will be tens of other things that define you as a person. Introspection on your past relationship will help you strengthen your resolve on these core aspects of your personality.

6) Being able to spot early signs of a relationship that is falling apart

Intense attachment can blind people in a relationship. Even when their gut tells them that something is wrong, they refuse to accept the problems because of a simple belief – everything will be alright.

For example, a girl may be ignoring the fact that her boyfriend is increasingly avoiding her calls and cancelling their plans for dates. Even though her gut tells her that he is no longer in love, she keeps reassuring herself that everything will be ok. If you can relate to this situation, learn from your past relationship and learn to trust your gut feelings.

7) How not to be taken for granted in a relationship

The funny thing about being taken for granted by the very person you are dating or married to, is that you don't even realize it until the relationship is over. The realization sinks in only after you take a bird's eye view of how your relationship went sour.

If you and your feelings were taken for granted in your previous relationship, a moment's reflection on how you could have avoided such a situation will be tremendously helpful. It will make you mentally stronger and help you draw the line between being a loving partner and one who is taken for granted.

Commitment is a beautiful feeling. But it can create problems if it is brought up at the wrong time.
Commitment is a beautiful feeling. But it can create problems if it is brought up at the wrong time.

8) When to demand commitment in a relationship

Commitment is a sticky issue when it comes to new relationship. Some people like to define the levels of commitment early on while others like to delay talking about commitment issues as long as they can.

Addressing commitment too late can make people drift apart while addressing it too soon can push a commitment phobic person away. There are no fixed rules which dictate the amount of time you should wait before talking about commitment. The experience in your past relationship will make you a better judge of when to bring this matter up.

9) Spotting early signs of an abusive relationship

Abusive relationships come in various forms. Most of the times, the person at the receiving end may not even realize the kind of abuse he or she is facing until the damage has already been done.

From the degrading verbal rants to physical harm - if your past relationship took an ugly turn, rewind your memory back the time when the abuse began. A quick introspection will help you to spot the early signs of abuse in a relationship.

10) How to deal with typical relationship problems

Jealousy, possessives, selfishness and neediness are some of the typical relationship problems that all couples face at some point or another. Such harmless problems can snowball into arguments and fights that eventually bring a relationship down.

Your past relationship will be a great teacher when it comes to dealing with these everyday relationship issues. Think about how you could have remained calm in petty arguments. Think about how you could have avoided being drawn into seemingly harmless bickering which later spiraled into bigger problems.

Communication is the strongest pillar of any relationship. Look at how communication gaps ruined your previous relationship and make it a priority in your next one.
Communication is the strongest pillar of any relationship. Look at how communication gaps ruined your previous relationship and make it a priority in your next one.

11) Learning the imporance of speaking your heart out

Communication is crucial for any relationship to survive. Blogs, magazine articles and self-help relationship guides will keep repeating these golden words again and again but most of the times, they fall on deaf ears.

Reflecting on your breakup will make you more aware about the importance of communication in a relationship. You will realize that speaking your heart out to your partner is a must if you want your share of happiness and satisfaction in a relationship.

12) Understanding your own sexual quotient

Sex and sexual compatibility play a defining role in a genuine relationship. The lack of physical intimacy or a vast difference in expectations can lead to relationship crumbling apart.

Whether it is about having sex for the first time or how your inhibitions became a barrier between yourself and your partner - previous relationships will help you understand and embrace your own sexual quotient.

13) Keeping secrets: What not to say to your partner when you are dating

The secrets couples keep from each other can vary from previous one night stands to bad habits. From your past relationship, you must also learn what to hold back from telling your partner until your bond has matured to a certain point.

For example, if a girl tells her boyfriend details of a fling she had in the past too early on in a relationship, it will put him off. Stuff like this is best kept a secret until partners become emotionally mature and can handle the bitter truth.

Love is a beautiful celebration. Reflect on the petty arguments in your previous relationships and learn to let go. Learn to enjoy the togetherness in a relationship.
Love is a beautiful celebration. Reflect on the petty arguments in your previous relationships and learn to let go. Learn to enjoy the togetherness in a relationship.

14) How to let go and enjoy the beautiful moments of a relationship

Petty relationship arguments may have seemed like the most important issue in the world when they were happening. But once you move on from a breakup and look back at those silly tiffs, you will realize how you wasted precious moments of your relationship over something so trivial.

This realization comes in hindsight but when it does, learn from it so that you waste less time arguing and more time enjoying the beautiful moments of your next relationship.

15) Learning how to give and get respect

Respect is a funny thing, especially in relationships and marriages. Everyone likes to get respect from their partners but very few realize what it takes to earn it. Earning respect as a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend takes a lot of commitment towards the relationship.

Even the smallest of mistakes can ruin months and years of well earned respect from a partner. For example, even the most caring boyfriend may become just another guy in the eyes of his girlfriend if he raises his hand after a heated argument.

Giving respect is as important as getting it because it is an indirect way of showing appreciation for a partner's love and his or her presence. Experiencing a relationship along with all its highs and lows should ideally have taught you what it takes to give and get respect.

16) Why you should avoid changing yourself for someone else

People make the mistake of changing themselves and their core personalities just so that their partners can be happy. This transformation is later regretted, only after an ugly breakup. If you took the same route to please your partner in your past relationship, learn from it and promise yourself that you will never do it again.

Regardless of your bond with your partner, nothing is worth changing yourself and your personality for someone else. If they don't like you the way you are, they shouldn't have started dating you.


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