Most breakups suck. It’s just a fact of life. We don’t usually “let go” at the same time, so it gets tricky to navigate when it’s “OK” to be hurt or not. (Hint: It’s always OK to be hurt, even if you know you’re better off without her.)
Just because our brain knows that she was terrible for us doesn’t mean our heart has figured it out yet.
Luckily, by letting your brain take over for your heart, you can give yourself a chance to heal – and a chance to love again (as long as you don’t rush into it). Truthfully, everyone needs at least one bad relationship in their lives – it teaches them what they really deserve: A good relationship.
Some of us have that shitty relationship sooner than others. I had my first really bad one when I was in high school, and then a second (with the same person) shortly after I’d graduated. The first time around, we had kept things “casual”, so I didn’t exactly learn the lessons I needed to. The second time, though, I wised up quick.
Breakups teach us about our flaws.
If you’re the one who got dumped, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you heard a list of “what’s wrong” with you. Most likely, not all of these things were actual problems, but rather things that your specific partner didn’t like. But there are going to be some flaws she points out that are legitimate flaws in character – figure out which ones these are, and work on them. Try not to take her words too personally, though; shitty girlfriends often put things in the meanest possible words they can.
Bad relationships teach us about our good qualities.
When you examine your perceived flaws and take an inventory of them, anything you’d stand up for counts as a “good quality”. Just because your ex didn’t appreciate it doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. Maybe your ex said you talk too much, and you value communication – in the future, you can find a woman who likes to talk, too.
Bad relationships teach us about our values.
A shitty relationship doesn’t always have to mean the other person is shitty – sometimes it’s just a matter of incompatible values. Dating someone whose values are different from yours will actually help you learn to define yours – and, in the future, you can decide which are important enough to discuss them early on. (Hint: Not all of them are, but you’ll have to figure that out for yourself.)
Bad relationships teach us about our strength.
In many shitty relationships, the partner who is in control will remain in control by minimizing the other partner’s feelings, or trying to make them feel worthless. But when you get the courage to leave a bad relationship – or, y’know, if she left you – this teaches you that you can, in fact, live without her. Internally, we know that we got along just fine before her, but it can take a little bit of practice to remember that we’ll still be ok after her.
Bad relationships teach us about what we want.
Getting out of a bad relationship will help you to figure out what you want from a future partner. If your ex was unfaithful, you’ll want a new partner who’s committed. If your ex was lazy, you’ll want a new partner with ambition. These things are sometimes negotiable – within reason – but having an idea of what you’re really looking for makes your next relationship just a little bit better.
Bad relationships teach us about what we need.
I’m sure your shitty relationship had a few deal breakers – even if you neglected to step up and call them deal breakers. My ex would routinely visit her ex – something I was never really comfortable with – but even less so when I realized they’d sleep in the same bed when she went to visit. I decided that I need a partner who’s going to give me all the necessary information when asking me to agree to something – don’t leave something out and expect me to be ok with it. That doesn’t count as “asking me”.
Bad relationships teach us about good relationships.
Before my horrible ex, I dated a few really nice girls. But I couldn’t really appreciate the effort they put into the relationship, because I wasn’t really putting in that much of my own. Once you’ve been with someone who takes advantage of you, you start to realize all the little ways you’ve taken advantage of others, and you swear you’ll never do them again. If your shitty relationship is your first relationship, don’t worry – you’ll learn from the experience, too. If you avoid doing the things your ex did that hurt you, you can avoid most hurt for your future partners.