Relationship are a great source of affection and companionship. Relationships help us to experience the depths and heights of love.
At their best, relationships can create a profound sense of belonging in the world and feelings of connection that transcend the here and now.
At their worst, relationships help prepare us for our next relationship -- especially if we are reflective and able to assess our contribution to every stage of the relationship. After all, we were a co-participant.
You don't need to break up to learn about yourself -- but the break-up lessons are vital and unique. A break-up is painful and you want to avoid the pain next time you venture into a love relationship. Often, though, we paddle headlong into the next cohabitation collaboration without pausing to reflect. We follow our heated heart and hope for the best.
Here's some things I learned about myself from past relationships:
Lesson: An emptiness caused by a lack of direction in my own life will not be filled by a relationship.
Resulting Action: Find out what I want to do and do it.
Lesson: A trip across the continent to get away from an unsatisfying relationship will not necessarily protect you from the next unsatisfying relationship.
Realization: You don't have to leave town.
Lesson: I can be a magnet for psychopaths because I tend to overlook bad behaviour.
Resulting Action: Don't trust my own judgement. Screen for psychopathology. Ask my 50 closest friends about a potential romantic partner.
I also learned that I'd rather be alone than be in an unequal or unsatisfying relationship. That was probably the best lesson. I had to learn to live without someone reflecting back my value. If I needed someone's love to feel worthy, then my value disappears when the relationship ends.
What did you learn? About yourself? From your last relationship?