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Things You Can Learn From a Failed Relationship: 17 Valued Lessons

Don’t despair! There are things you can learn from a failed relationship that propels you forward with more knowledge and wisdom.

Things You Can Learn From a Failed Relationship

A failed relationship isn’t always a failure. Sure, you didn’t end up together, but it doesn’t mean you didn’t get a lot out of it. There are always things you can learn from a failed relationship.

Just like the end of a job, it got you to where you are today no matter how it ended. When you go through a breakup, it can feel like the entire relationship was a waste. It can feel like you wasted your time on something that was worthless. But, when the initial pain wears off you realize you can learn a lot from a failed relationship.

A failed relationship isn’t a failure

When a relationship first ends, it can be hard to look back at the good times. It can be hard to appreciate all parts of what you went through. The pain overruns your emotions. But, what feels so much like a failure when it’s fresh usually turns out to be quite the success. 

[Read: The best books to read during a breakup and begin the healing]

I had two major breakups in my life before my current relationship. Both of them felt brutal. I was heartbroken, plain and simple. 

I thought I would never move on. But, given time and perspective, I know that if it wasn’t for those relationships and, more importantly, those failed relationships, I wouldn’t be where I am now or be with who I’m with now. 

Those failed relationships led me to now, no matter how much pain they may have caused at one time. That pain, those betrayals, and the perspective I got from those failed relationships taught me patience, gave me confidence, and built my trust. 

It didn’t feel like that at the time, but what you learn from a failed relationship usually comes after the fact.

[Read: How self-respect affects you and your relationship]

Things you can learn from a failed relationship

The things you can learn from a failed relationship aren’t usually abrupt. They don’t hit you in the face. They come with time and experience. And they come with a journey.

And those things you learn from a failed relationship aren’t just about that person. They are about you and what you want and what you need. They are about what you deserve.

Failed relationships teach you so much about the past, but also lead you in the right direction in the future with more wisdom.

So, what things can you learn from a failed relationship? The answer is endless, but here are some common ones you may experience.

#1 This was necessary. A relationship is a two-way street. Both people need to be committed for it to work. Whether you initiated the breakup or not, once the shock wears off, you realize this was for the best.

A one-sided relationship is an unhappy relationship. A failed relationship with lessons learned is better than a forced relationship. [Read: Learn the qualities of a healthy relationship that keep couples happy]

#2 You deserve more. More can mean someone who makes you a priority or just someone you click with more. Once you’ve been in a relationship, no matter how great, when it ends you realize what wasn’t there. 

From the breakup itself, you learn to love yourself instead of depending on love from someone else. This helps you realize that you don’t have to settle, you deserve the best relationship, not just any relationship.

#3 Love takes work. Love may be this magical thing, but that doesn’t mean it just comes easily. You need to put effort into your friendships and relationships with family, so it makes sense you’d need to do the same for a romantic relationship.

When you walk away from a relationship of your own doing or not, you realize there is some work that isn’t being put in and that is okay sometimes. [Read: 15 signs of a healthy relationship you should always look for]

#4 You weren’t happy. While in a relationship, we tend to see things with rose-colored glasses. You glaze over some issues because you’ve put so much effort in and don’t want it to go to waste. But once you’ve actually broken up, you look back and realize that you weren’t as happy as you thought you were.

Sure, you had good times, but once you’ve said goodbye you can see that you haven’t lost as much as you thought.

#5 Timing matters. Yes, it does. I know it sucks to hear, but even when someone seems perfect, the timing can be off. Long-distance, busy jobs, and more get in the way. It isn’t always because you didn’t love each other enough but that that time wasn’t your time. [Read: Right person, wrong time? How to time things right in love]

#6 You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change. This is huge. This is something I want to say the majority of people learn from a failed relationship. We so often love our partners except for this or that. Maybe they smoke, maybe they’re unsure about wanting kids, or anything else.

When you love someone and these things come up, instead of facing them for their gravity, you tend to hope they’ll go away in the future or you can change their mind or them. Unless they want to change for you and for themselves, it won’t happen. It doesn’t matter how hard you try.

#7 You need balance. When you leave a relationship and feel completely alone, it could be because you let them absorb your life. You ditched your friends and hobbies to focus on this person. But now they’re gone and you don’t have the support system. 

That moment teaches you that relationships need independence. You need to have your own friends, hobbies, and time. Without that, the relationship begins defining you and makes the idea of a breakup terrifying to you. [Read: How to stop being codependent and have a healthy relationship]

#8 This wasn’t your only option. I have heard so many people ask, “What am I going to do now?”, when a relationship fails as if that was their only chance at finding love. In the moment, it feels life-crushing, but you can soon realize that wasn’t all there is for you.

There are other people and options. You can travel, move for work, or date someone new. Just because you’re a certain age or spent so much time in a relationship doesn’t mean there isn’t something else out there for you.

#9 Time heals. I know this is cliche, but it is so often repeated because it is true. Over time the pain of a failed relationship lessens. You get back into a routine. You find things that make you happy and feel fulfilled. And you think about that relationship less and less. It just takes time. [Read: How to get over your ex in a healthy way and look to your future]

#10 Dealbreakers and red flags. When someone gets into a relationship, it’s easy to overlook things that may become an issue down the line. Whether you weren’t planning on something serious or you just gave someone the benefit of the doubt, you learn what your dealbreakers are at the end of a failed relationship.

Are you willing to date someone who works in nightlife? Will you date someone that has cheated in their past or isn’t close with their family? These things may seem small in the beginning, but once the relationship ends, you see them from a new angle. [Read: The 25 most common dealbreakers all women must follow]

#11 It’s better to feel lonely and be alone than to feel lonely in a relationship. Being single is okay. Feeling lonely is okay. When a relationship fails, it can feel like you’re at your lowest, but feeling lonely while being alone is normal. Feeling lonely while you’re in a relationship feels so much more painful.

#12 Love isn’t always enough. Love is a powerful thing, but it isn’t always enough to sustain a relationship. It isn’t the most romantic fact, but it’s true. You can love each other but not be willing to sacrifice something you want in your future for the other person. And that is okay.

#13 Trust yourself. A failed relationship may make you question your own judgment at first, but in time it teaches you that your initial reactions and gut feelings are usually right. Let your gut steer you in the right direction. If something feels off it usually is. [Read: How to listen to your gut and give strength to your inner voice]

#14 Talk about it sooner rather than later. If you had a big fight when your relationship ended, it was probably a long time coming. Why? When an issue arises, we put off bringing it up to avoid a fight or to avoid awkwardness. But, the longer we put these hard conversations off, the worse they are.

We build up resentment and nerves and then it all bubbles over when it does come out. The mistakes made in your failed relationship are learning opportunities for your next one. 

#15 You will move on. When you’re fresh off a breakup, it seems like the pain will never go away, but you learn that it will. You will move on one way or the other. Your body won’t let you be in that state for too long because you want to survive this and become stronger. [Read: Self-recovery after a breakup and how to happily move on]

#16 Don’t ignore issues. Whether it is something small or something big, don’t avoid it to seem cool or easygoing. If something is bothering you, bringing it up calmly will always work out better. When these little issues arise and are dealt with maturely, it brings you closer together.

But when you ignore these things hoping they’ll go away, they only snowball leading to the end of the relationship. [Read: How to talk about your feelings in a relationship and grow closer]

#17 Everything happens for a reason. This relationship failed for a reason just like it happened for a reason. It wasn’t a waste of time. That person came into your life when they did to offer you something, whether it was brief happiness or lessons for the future.

[Read: How to take a break from dating and imagine a better future]

There are an endless number of things you can learn from a failed relationship. What have you learned?

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...