Breakups are painful because people view them as a loss. When we lose something, we grieve and this is a painful process. One way to reduce breakup pain is to try to view the situation positively and focus on what you have gained rather than what you have lost.
Some people argue that everyone that we have relationships with have been sent to teach us something. So to help you to feel better about a breakup you can take the time to identify what a relationship has taught you and use your new found knowledge to ensure that you have a happier future
To work out what you have learned from someone give the following activity a try
On a piece of paper write the sentence “what I learned from my relationship with …… (ex’s name)”.
Then write down all of the things that you have learned (good and bad) as a result of your relationship with your ex (you don’t have to stop at one ex, you can examine all past relationships)
Here’s an example:
What I learned from my relationship with Graham
- I have learned that someone will want a long term relationship with me as Graham and I were together for three years.
- I have learned that I like men who are family orientated and have good relationships with their mothers, as Graham did.
- I have learned that I need to find ways to improve my self-esteem and become aware of what I offer a man as I think that I compromised too much because I didn’t think that he would stay with me if I didn’t compromise. This was because I didn’t know why he was with me. I focused too much on why he was great and what he brought to the relationship and not enough on why I am a worthwhile partner and what he gained as a result of me being in the relationship.
- I have learned that I need to be more open with my feelings and be more affectionate as I realise now that I often made Graham feel rejected by my lack of affection/openess. He withdrew from me as a result, which I now understand was caused by my initial lack of affection. However, at the time I thought he was just being heartless, which caused more problems. I loved him but I had difficulty expressing this as I feared rejection. This is something I intend to work on so that I don’t push future partners away
- I have learned that I need to listen to and consider the needs of my future partners more and I now realise how my behaviour can cause problems in the relationship.
- I have learned that I like funny men because Graham was hilarious.
- I have learned that I like interesting men as I was never bored with Graham.
- I have learned that I like men who are “female friendly” to a certain extent i.e. understand a female perspective (even though they may not experience it themselves) because Graham was a man’s man and often didn’t understand my perspective and would sometimes tell me that I was too emotional about everything and dismiss my feelings, which I didn’t like.
- I have learned that people will accept me as I am and will still stay with me as Graham stayed with me even though I was horrible to him sometimes
- I think you get the gist now.
When you do this activity, try to think of answers to three questions:
a) What did you like (so that you can find it again in someone else)
b) What did you not like (so you know to avoid it next time)
c) How can you develop, so that you become a better partner and have more positive relationships in the future
You may feel a bit sad at times during this process but it is intended to help you gather information about what you like, dislike and how you can develop, so that you can have a happier future.
Remember that your ex is just one of many people who will join you on your journey through life. He was associated with one chapter of your life. Now is the time to start another.
Until Next Time