Friday, September 16, 2011

Relationships- Lessons Learned

A few weeks back I was out with a group of friends when the conversation turned to previous relationships. I was surprised at how many of my friends did not like their former partners. They dreaded the thought of running into them. I was perplexed that a vast majority of my friends believed they did nothing wrong, the relationship ended because the other party was one hundred percent at fault. As gently as possible, I tried to question, if they had done nothing wrong, if they were the perfect partner, wouldn’t they still be in the relationship? I was showered with an instantaneous and unanimous, “I had nothing to do with its failure.”

Why do people believe if a relationship ends, it was a failure? For me the answer has always been, it ends because it was never meant to last. For some reason or another, we, me and whomever, were not perfect for each other. A break-up is only a failure if you do not learn from it.

When a union dissolves the fault lies with both parties. It takes two people to make a relationship work and it takes two people to end it. One may carry more blame than the other but each person must own their share for its breakdown.

I can hear the chorus now; how can I be responsible if my partner cheated on me? A significant other does not cheat is their partner is perfect. I have had boyfriends cheat on me and it hurt me deeply. I also realized they cheated because I was not listening to them; I was not giving them what they needed. I did not see the signs I needed to pay more attention to him.

I have friends who would ask how could it possibly be their fault when their ex cheated on all their previous partners. The fault lies in dating a person you know to be a serial cheater. Why would you ever think they would be different for you?

I learned a long time ago if you own your part of the responsibility, what you did wrong, it is easier to understand their actions. Why they went in search of someone else. It does not make what they did right but it does make it easier to forgive and move on. Until you forgive, as long as one holds anger, you are in essence still tied to your past, tied to them. It is impossible to move forward until you are free.

Of course I also understand there are people in this world who defy explanation, no ifs, ands or buts; they are jerks, evil, bad. These are the abusive partners. They have the ability to suck all the happiness and joy out of a person. They fool everyone around them, hiding their true ‘personality or character’ until it is too late, a person is already deep into a relationship. The time they steal from a person can never be regained but with God’s grace and with a lot of help from family and friends the person who is sucked into a relationship with an evil person can survive the damage and move on. The lesson is looking back and trying to recognize the hints, the clues they subtly dropped at the beginning of the relationship, understanding why one refused to see them. The only true fault is usually being too nice, too na├»ve and not leaving sooner.

I have heard friends state they have the divorce or the break up from hell, but why was it hell? I have never been married or had a bad break up so I have no personal experience. From what I have witnessed, nasty endings are because one or both parties are hurting, feel wronged. The 'injured' party feels they have done nothing wrong, they have every right to impose their wrath. They are still suffering therefore they must cause the other person to feel as much pain as they do. They are not ready to admit or own their fault in the collapse of the relationship. They honestly believe they hate their previous lover, not recognizing it they didn't love them so much, they wouldn't be hurting so badly. My grandmother once told me the difference between love and hate is pain and anguish. The only cure, recognize the difference and forgive.

I look at my previous relationships as building blocks, life’s lessons until I find the man I am meant to spend the rest of my life with. My past boyfriends made me who I am and I am thankful I dated them. I am grateful most are still a part of my life. It always saddens me when I hear people talk about how much they hate their ex. If they saw them they would turn away, leave where ever they were. Maybe I am not the norm, but I know if I saw one of my exes I would walk up and hug them. Catch up over lost time and laugh over old times.

I have often wondered why is it so hard for some people to remember the good parts of their relationship, what first attracted them to their ex? Why instead do they choose to dwell on the ending, all the bad parts of the relationship, the character flaws of their ex? We all have our imperfections, just as I had to learn to adjust to their quirks, they had to deal with all my peculiarities. I am not perfect and I have never expected my partner to be as well. Besides perfection is pretty boring!

I have been pretty lucky in the boyfriend department. Most of my relationships have been with some pretty amazing men. I may not have realized it at the time, but looking back I recognize how truly fortunate I was. I would be lying if I did not confess that a few of my exes devastated me and it took me a while to get over the pain of the hurt they inflicted. For a time, because of them, I built ‘walls’ to protect myself from feeling too much, never wanting to experience that kind of hurt again. As I matured I recognized and accepted my part in how the relationship deteriorated, why it fell apart. I had to take my responsibility in causing my own pain. The most eye opening moment, when I realized in a few of my relationships I was more at fault than my ex. Time has a way of disclosing the truth if you are willing to search your soul.

The only way I have ever been able to liberate myself and move forward, examine the relationship. Identify what was wonderful, what hurt, what was my fault, and what would I change. To move forward, never make the same mistake, I had to be honest, look deep within myself and admit my faults. It was never important what my ex did, that was for them to accept and own, I had to concentrate on what I could take away from the relationship. I had to ask myself the hard questions. I had to learn how I could grow, forgive and move forward; be ready for the next man in my life. Sometimes examining my mistakes in a relationship was a difficult lesson but I understood if I did not learn from them I would constantly repeat them and I truly hate repetition of a bad nature!! Who knows maybe my next boyfriend will be 'Mr. Right' and after learning from all my mistakes, my faults hopefully I will be ready for him.