It’s incredibly easy to look back on failed relationships and pinpoint everything that our past lovers did wrong. The lies, the cheating, the neglect—our lists could go on and on.
A bit more challenging is finding it within ourselves to swallow our pride and realize that we cannot cast all the blame on the other person. As much as our egos fight to tell us we are in the right, we must remember that we are not perfect beings either.
I firmly believe that every past relationship of mine did not work out simply because it wasn’t in the stars. I know that I have not lost “the one,” and neither have any of my past loves. There was always something not completely right—our pieces didn’t fit together without some force.
Looking back on these relationships with humble eyes, I can now see how some of my actions may have brought these relationships to a quicker demise.
Oh, this one is a killer for me. I have always had high expectations when it comes to men and relationships. I don’t know if this is a result of my parents having a beautiful and long-lasting relationship, or from the plethora of romantic comedies I watched in my teenage years. But, I have always had expectations wired into my brain of how I felt I should be treated in a relationship.
The Lesson: I am not saying that anyone should ever settle in a relationship. I realize now that all people show their love differently. Some people may express their love in the storybook manner, while others may show their love in simpler ways—by replacing the toilet paper when they finish it, or leaving the last chip in the basket for you at the Mexican restaurant. Everyone is going to express love differently, so my holding any sort of expectation as to how they should is setting us both up for disappointment.
2) The Grass is Greener Complex.
Damn this one. When I am going through a rough patch with a lover it always seems as if everyone else’s relationship is perfect. I inevitably begin playing the comparison game in my head. I compare my relationship to my best friends’ or my parents’ relationships. I compare my relationship to the happy couple we are sitting near at dinner. I just compare. And dammit, it’s not fair, because they are all their own, just as my lover and I are our own.
The Lesson: Some couples somehow seem to constantly get along and adore one another, while others show their love through caring enough to engage in argument. Every single couple has a different dynamic than the next. And to be fair, I can probably be a little more difficult and hard-headed than some of the women in those adorable relationships.
3) Time is Love?
I have a tendency that can drive some men crazy; I can become too tied up in personal hobbies. However, I have found myself on both sides of the spectrum in this regard. I have been the woman whose entire life revolves around a man, and I have been the woman whose partner constantly feels neglected. I have always had trouble finding the happy medium between personal and relationship time.
The Lesson: For me to be happy, it is critical that I leave some time to myself to do the things that I love to do, but I have to remember to make time for the man in my life as well. Otherwise, he will forget that he is just as important to me as my passions, hobbies and friends.
4) Dragging Out Old Baggage.
Sh*t, this one. I forgive, but never forget. I have gotten myself burned too many times, so I have become overly cautious, not allowing myself to forget things, because I have learned that patterns tend to repeat themselves. But, in the heat of the moment, I have a bad tendency to reopen old wounds in the face of new pain. This only causes the situation to snowball into a multi-subject, multi-situational fight with no end. Leaving us both hurt and angry.
The Lesson: Bringing up old wounds serves no purpose; it only drives communication, and the relationship, into the ground.
It is always easy to see our exes’ downfalls, but stepping back and looking at our own is a little more cringeworthy and painful. By doing so, however, we are only bettering ourselves and our relationship capabilities for that future soulmate we are patiently awaiting.
Author: Emily Cutshaw
Editor: Toby Israel