Are you still in the dark times after a relationship breakup? Are you struggling with what happened or who did what? Do the echoes of your past relationship still come back to haunt you? These challenging times that we all face in the aftermath of a breakup can be the very source of a successful relationship.
You may ask “What do you mean? How can this be the source of anything good? I don’t want to feel this way!”
We know it’s hard to see anything positive at such a time, but these very times can be the fertile ground where you create the ingredients for a peaceful passionate relationship. This is an opportunity to review what occurred, not in terms of blame and guilt (which are never productive of anything), but rather in terms of getting to know yourself better, coming to understand what your core values actually are, and creating a personal understanding that will allow a relationship to flourish.
You may not see it in such a light, but there is a tremendous amount to learn from a failed relationship. The first reaction may only be pain, but the second response is usually the question why, and the initial response is usually blame – what the other person did or didn’t do. That’s an excellent way to remain stuck in the past and not take responsibility for any part of the separation. Instead, use what happened to learn what you do and don’t want from a relationship.
Finding your wants and needs is not easy for most people. We are all so influenced by society and other people that it is hard to recognize our authentic feelings. Below most desires are deeper desires, and so on. Sometimes ice cream is just ice cream, and sometimes it’s comfort, love and maternal nourishment. It is very important to distinguish real needs from surface needs, and looking at what was and wasn’t fulfilled in your relationship will help you make better choices in your next one.
Another lesson a previous relationship offers is an insight into your own behavior. You were probably told, repeatedly and in excruciating detail, what your failings were. Maybe they were real, maybe they were unreasonable, and maybe they came from your partner’s unfulfillable well of need. Listen carefully to yourself and you will hear which is which.
We often discuss The Spectrum of Acceptance, an approach that assists you in recognizing what is critically important to you and what isn’t. The first level of this spectrum is evaluating your core values.
“In the beginning of a relationship, evaluate your new partner in terms of your core values. You may encounter acts that, for you, are truly unacceptable – lying, cheating, withholding – whatever they may be, the deal-breakers vary from person to person. If you have truly reflected on what your deal breakers are, and find yours do not match your partner’s, this is a relationship that will not work, even when offset by sweeteners like sex or money. It’s hard in the beginning of a relationship to make this assessment, and it should not be done too precipitously. Allow time to get to know one another, and to experience what the other person’s values truly are. At the same time, be careful you are not swept away by the rush of a new relationship, and don’t ignore important information about deal breakers. Don’t think, either, that you’ll be able to fix them by changing the person. Be honest with yourself in this evaluation and if, after careful reflection, you find that your core values do not match, then trust your judgment. Get out.”
How Two: Have a Successful Relationship
The time of personal rawness after a separation offers possibilities not usually open to you. Use this for your own personal growth, and you will find that you are actually taking steps toward creating a successful relationship. Gather tools you can apply with this new awareness that will support positive changes in your behavior:
- Use conscious methods of communication.
- Remember both partners are on the same side.
- Let go of needing to be right.
- Don’t keep score.
- Commit to creating mutual solutions.
Use the vulnerability created by your separation to your own advantage. Treat every failed relationship as a learning opportunity because this is how you grow and progress. You owe an immense debt to your previous love, so give thanks to your ex for the lessons learned. You are where you are because of where you’ve been.