Lessons I’ve Learnt From Past Relationships

We can learn a lot by looking at our past mistakes, or painful experiences. Here I analyse some of mine, in the context of relationships…

1. Blame.

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Something is very wrong if everything is always skewed to be your fault, somehow. This often means that there are deep personal problems in your partner’s life if they use you as a means of displacement for their anger, fear or sorrow. A past boyfriend of mine had a troubled relationship with his family, his mother in particular caused him great emotional pain on many occurrences. But this didn’t give him a right to become angry with me for something trivial. It is not okay to assign your partner the role of your own personal safety net/emotional punching bag. Think, before you start that argument over that unreturned phone call – could there be an underlying root to your frustration? …Of course, you should be providing each other with support, but that’s through talking about your problems in rational conversation, and taking progressive steps with each other to make things better. Between two people discussing a disagreement, if you have to raise your voice, or resort to emotional manipulation in order to put your case across in an argument, then its a shitty case in the first place.

2. Views.

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You have cause to reform your relationship if your views are consistently being dismissed, or ridiculed. Quite frankly, this sort of behaviour means that they don’t respect you. I don’t care how ‘playfully’ it comes across, if you are constantly being shot down when speaking about your opinions, then your other half doesn’t value you as highly as they should do. Part of a healthy relationship is being willing to truly listen to and engage in each others intellect and personality – sharing takes two, a giver and receiver! It could originate from fear and insecurity over their own intelligence, but this doesn’t excuse their oppressive behaviour. Teaching each other new things, and remaining open-minded to new ideas and beliefs make up the foundations of a good relationship.

3. Lies.

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Just because you are hearing what you want to hear, doesn’t mean there’s truth behind it. This even goes for ‘I love you’. I’ve experienced it first hand. Pacifying, reassuring words will slip out in an attempt to soothe and placate, when they are actually probably causing ripples of long-term damage. I’m not advising you to constantly question everything your partner says, that’s absurd. But you should be cautious when it comes to expressions of deep emotions, especially if they’re being confessed early on in a relationship, and your own personal response is tinged with uncertainty. In fact, the best way to respond is to be straight up and honest, in the face of something like a sudden ‘I love you!’. You’ll be doing you and your partner a favour if you let them know that you’re feeling pressured and rushed, and that you feel the need to slow down. What could also help is to truly mull over and understand what you really want from your relationship, and be brave enough to spell it out to your partner. Honesty is so key. Do not say something with heavy implications if you are not fully committed to their meaning.

4. Sex.

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It may sound obvious, but if they become angry when you aren’t in the mood to sleep with them… then they don’t deserve you. You don’t have an obligation to sleep with anybody, ever. End of. Sex should not be used as an emotional weapon either. It’s an act of love that you both need to be enjoying, and that requires open communication. Tell each other what you like, for goodness sake, don’t suffer in silence, and wait for Cosmo/Nuts to write some moronic article about ‘Those things that your partner does that are just so WRONG’, so you can nod along and feel like a special little martyr snowflake – we can’t read each other’s minds, speak up!

5. Effort.

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I spoke earlier about giving and receiving. The exact same balanced equation is needed regarding input of effort. If you’re constantly being ignored, or dismissed, then you need to request a serious talk with your boyfriend/girlfriend. I’ve been guilty of being too elusive and reserved in the past. And I have come to realise how cruel that could be to somebody, especially if they have insecurities about the relationship to begin with. I think it may be a defense mechanism, when one, or even potentially both of you, senses that the end is nigh for the relationship – the creation of rift in your communication is form of prolonging the painful break-up, whilst also cutting off most responsibilities required in a partnership.

6. Space.

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Constantly trying to contact and be in the company of your other half in a relationship might work for some couples, but it certainly doesn’t work for me. I start to feel smothered if my presence is required all the time, especially if I’m snapped at, or penalised for wanting some space. I need time to be alone, and reflect – I’m classically introverted, and find it necessary to recharge after certain social situations. I’ve theorised that this could be due to my tendency to over-analyse everything and thus, mentally tire myself out. I feel that in a relationship, when I’m with my partner, I have an irrational need to scrutinise and attempt to perfect my every move, believing that I won’t be ‘good enough’ otherwise. Its tremendously silly, I know, but I just want to be the best I can be, for somebody that I’ve come to care about.

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