Learning from the Past to Protect Your Relationship Future

Learning from the Past to Protect Your Relationship Future

It’s easy to start this contemplation by listing off all the mistakes you’ve made. Truth be told, there’s nothing productive about that kind of framing. We currently live in a culture where the vast majority of relationships end. In other words, you’re probably not uniquely flawed if you’ve endured a few break-ups. The only “mistake,” so to speak, would be to miss the opportunity to learn. 

Your romantic or intimate relationship is a major part of your life. Therefore, approaching this topic with reflection, honesty, and commitment makes a lot of sense. You’ll need all three of those attributes — and more — to learn from the past. 

No Relationship Was a Waste of Time

As long as you entered into that connection with honesty and openness, you surely gained knowledge from the experience. If nothing else, you have a better idea of what works for you. What do you like and why? The goal is how to use that knowledge to promote self-awareness and changes if needed. Self-examination is a proven path toward finding more compatible partners. To accomplish this goal requires self-awareness about who you are, especially when you’re in a relationship.

It’s necessary and usually good that we change when we become a “partner.” But look at past relationships to discern if you changed so much as to lose yourself or your voice,wants, needs, or desires. In extreme cases, this is called codependence. But things don’t have to go that far to create dysfunction. Finding the delicate balance of interdependence is hard work but well worth it.

Were You With the “Wrong” Partner?

In some cases, of course, this can be obvious in hindsight. However, you can have a happy connection that doesn’t last. Compatibility is fluid, and sometimes, a great match can transform into a mismatch. Reflecting on these prior romances can provide priceless information when it comes to moving forward.

As simple as it sounds, list-making is useful. Get yourself a journal and start writing down what feels important to you when considering a potential partner. Alongside that list, be sure to take an inventory of deal-breakers, too. Now, think about a past relationship you mostly enjoyed. Juxtapose that with a previous romance that ended poorly. Look for trends and clues that will point you toward the future. You may have to go over these lists a few times before you settle on a general profile to serve as guidelines. 

More Ways To Protect Your Relationship Future

Be Kind to Yourself 

Looking back at relationships that inspire regret can put you in a harsh state of mind. Seek out ways to assess yourself fairly without sliding into overt self-criticism. Allot as much time to the highlights as you do to the lowlights. Keep in focus that you’re doing this to learn and do better next time.

Think About Boundaries

No two people view boundaries the same way. Sadly, many people don’t think about them at all. Meanwhile, it is foundational to be crystal clear on where you end and your partner begins — and vice-versa. Contemplating boundaries involves the honing of your communication skills. Both tools will be crucial in your next relationship.

Be Patient

What are the odds that you and a compatible partner meet at a time when both are available for and interested in a committed relationship? In other words, you can’t rush or force love (or even lust). Use your time to learn more about yourself. If you’re still on good terms with an ex, ask them for blunt input. Opportunities arise when you least expect it, so commit to being as ready as possible.

How Therapy Can Help

There’s no blueprint for dating, but the process can be made smoother with the guidance of a therapist. At Onyx, we have skilled and competent therapists who can support you through each stage of a relationship, from casual dating to more serious milestones. While therapy won’t offer dating advice per se, you will have the opportunity to explore what healthy relationships and boundaries  can look like, examine your historic relationships and how they may have influenced your current beliefs and thinking, provide a space for healing from past emotional wounds, and offer strategies for the future.

Reach out to Onyx, and let’s get you the support for a happy and healthy relationship, with yourself and others.

Learning from the Past to Protect Your Relationship Future