Sometimes, if I’m being honest, it’s difficult not to regret choices that I’ve made. Perhaps it isn’t the choice itself, but the little choices that were made along the way to prolong the inevitable or to avoid it in order to delay the hurt or the consequences just a bit longer. Of course, the majority of my regrets come from the decisions I made in the relationship department. However, over time, regret loses its hold on us as we reflect on these experiences. We are left with something else: closure, clarity and understanding.
There is a lot we can learn from our past relationships, both good and bad. I believe our relationships give us insight and maybe push us toward what we need to do to aid in personal growth or fulfilling our own happiness further down the line.
This is what I’ve learned about love:
Love teaches us how to love ourselves. Perhaps our biggest obstacle in growth is self-acceptance. Truthfully, our “imperfections” are not that at all. We should learn to accept these attributes and look at them as a part of the whole picture; neither perfect nor imperfect. Our relationships teach us how to love and what it means to love another person, but we must love ourselves first in order to truly love another.
We begin to understand our values and things that we aren’t ever going to be willing to compromise. We realize that love means compromise, yes, but it doesn’t mean sacrificing the very things that make us who we are. To love means to support and to begin conquering these dreams together, not to become an obstacle.
Our past relationships taught us what it means to fall out of love or what it felt like to never be in love with someone to begin with. We begin to understand the weight behind the word love and how easily we can throw it around. We understand that we may have thought we felt love but realized that it was in the heat of the moment or we were saying it in an effort to really feel it. We now understand that we cannot push love, that we cannot settle for anything other than love, and we know we can’t pursue it but have to earn it. Love is not forced, love is kind, love is work, love is easy, love is patient, and we understand the value behind that.
We will never be the “back-burner booty call” again. If we have discussed exclusivity and we discover that it was “unclear on your end,” then tough luck because goodbye. We refuse to be treated like trash, even if you pack us away in a golden bag. We won’t be afraid to tell our partners what we want out of our relationships and we will no longer feel too uncertain to say how we feel.
We have learned to be a better friend, to make time for our friends no matter who we are involved with. Our past relationships have taught us that we have to put an effort into every kind of relationship.
We now understand that femininity means many different things to many different people. Feeling “sexy” doesn’t have to mean taking off our clothes or pursuing sexual relationships with any number of different people. Sexy doesn’t mean trying to have exactly the right number of partners that “researchers” are telling us before we settle down. Feeling sexy means many different things to many different people, whether we want to paint the town red or would rather catch our suitors while in sweat pants.
We will not rush to think about the future, we will enjoy the present and be happy in it. We will cross whatever bridge we come to when we get there and will consider the future when necessary. We will no longer waste our time on those that we honestly see no future with and will instead enjoy our time with those that will be there. Enjoy the moments you have and do not dwell on what will or could be.
Whether we were in love or not, whether we grew to hate each other or just drifted apart, we learned something from each other and should be grateful to each other for that. I suppose that is why we are meant to have so many relationships before we really meet someone we are supposed to be with. We should never stop learning, we should never stop loving, and we should never stop growing.