When it comes to dating and relationship, there are a lot of hard life lessons that all we must go through in order to grow and truly understand ourselves as an individual and as someone’s partner.
We’ve all been through those tough relationships:
- our first love
- the player/heart breaker
- the one that got away
- the nice guy/girl who had really bad timing
- the good-at-this-moment love
- the dangerously-in-love love
- the drama king/queen
- the one that seemed too good to be true
- the one that was just no good
- the guy/girl who (felt) was out of your league
- the complicated ex
- the comfortable love
I’ve been through it. Some ended more peacefully than others and some I’m even friends with till this day. Whether or not we remain as friends or decided to part ways for whatever reason, each relationship taught me so much about who I am, who I want to be with, and most importantly, what I need to work on to improve myself (both for myself and for my future partner).
Now after many years of heartbreak, epiphanies, and self-development, I’ve learned a few life lessons that not only applies to relationships, but also career choices and self-growth!
Here are some of the hardest lessons to learn and accept when it comes to dating:
1. Don’t ever settle.
Admit it, we all have a list of qualities that we look for in our partners. Whether it’s a physical checklist in your journals or a subconscious filter, there are certain qualities that we should never, ever settle for no matter how attractive the person is, how lonely/insecure you feel, or how many promises they make to you about how they’re going to change. Qualities, such as compassion towards others, modesty, kindness, loyalty and mutual respect are a few that should be at the basic foundation of every relationship. Other qualities that I find extremely important in healthy relationships are drive and ambition, self-sufficiency, stability (mentally, emotionally, financially, etc.) and open-mindedness. Sense of humor, maturity, and intelligence are also essential and may vary depending on personal preferences.
In order to fully understand why we can never settle, look at the
reasons excuses on how some of us do and recognize why it is a problem. There are a number of “justifications” we lie to ourselves about why it’s so hard to stay true to our standards:
- We feel lonely and/or become desperate for someone to love and love us in return. Growing impatient when it comes to developing a relationship is an extremely dangerous thing. Doing so, we allow ourselves to settle on those who are undeserving of our attention, affection, and more importantly, our time.
- We tell/believes ourselves in their lies and empty promises on how they “will change”. It is very common in a new relationship to be wishful of how your partner will behave. But when your partner show signs he/she is flunking from meeting the minimum requirements: consideration, loyalty, compassion, and mutual respect, it’s time to drop them out of your class!
- We believe we can’t do better. By filling our heads with this lie, we limit ourselves to the type of love we deserve and allow the wrong person to occupy real estate in our lives and our hearts a lot longer then they should! If they fail to respect and meet your standards, it’s a mature (not to mention brave) move to call it for what it is and bow out gracefully. Why waste more time with someone you don’t see yourself with in the next few months or so? (If your answer involves anything along the lines of “having fun”, “occupying your time”, or “just to have someone”, please refer to the first point, on this list!)
2. Accept that it didn’t work out.
This is probably the most painful one of all…Not only do you suffer from the emotional stress of having to reject someone and cut things off, you have to force yourself to walk away. Regardless of your history or your understanding that it is the right thing to do, breaking things off is always hard! That’s the first phase: accepting that it is the wrong relationship (opportunity, circumstance, etc.) for you. The second phase is what I like to call “the explanation game”.
After coming to accept it that it’s simply not going to work out and trying to move on, you have to explain to everyone on why it didn’t work out… As much as I respect a strong individual who doesn’t need the validation from others to live their life, I understand that when things end (a relationship, an occupation, an opportunity, etc.) people ask questions and boy, does it get tiring to go through explaining the entire story each and every time. You can only condense it and ride the emotional roller coaster so many times before you get nauseous from all of the nostalgia.
Because of our fear of rejecting someone we care about, missing out on “what could have been”, and/or holding on to the hope that somehow, things will magically work themselves out, we fail to take the necessary steps to move on from a still standing and lackluster relationship. Often times, we also stay because our unhappiness has yet outweigh our discomfort, fear of starting over and bracing the unknown (and extremely confusing) waters of the single life. (With that, please refer to the list above for more understanding as to why we settle in unhappy relationships.
3. Be honest with yourself. You may think you know what you’re doing, but you don’t and that’s okay!
Another tough one. If you thought being honest with other people was hard, being honest with yourself on your short comings is even worst (but not impossible)! Fear not my friend! Being honest with yourself is one of the hardest but most useful tool you can master! Once you’ve accomplished this level of self-acceptance, you will reach a thrust hole where you will be able to harvest self-love, self-respect, mindfulness, and hopefully, self-actualization.
I’ll be honest. I thought I would be good at dating… until I actually started dating. This started out as a joke with my friends but the more I say it out loud, the more I realized it’s true! We all believe that our past relationships has taught us a little something, something and everybody swears they’re good at “playing the game”, aka getting others (that you’re not really interested in) to fall for you (while you hold control over the relationship). In reality, who’s really winning when feelings are hurt, bridges are burnt, and nights are spent alone and miserable? (To be fair, I don’t think being alone equates to being miserable. I enjoy a lot of my nights alone having my precious me-time and doing the things I love! Being alone does not have to mean being lonely!)
The important thing to learn from this is that we are all trying to figure it out. We are all trying to learn about ourselves, the world, and want we want from it. It’s important to be understanding and forgiving to those who break your heart, not just for them but for yourself! Relationships, much like life, is messy, complicated and EXTREMELY confusing. What we need to do is learn from it and enjoy it the best we can.
Inspired by my past relationships & a whole lot of reflecting