The most important life lessons I learned from a break up

love breakup

These are the life lessons learned from a relationship which P.S. Malcolm doesn’t regret (the magic of love!) but won’t repeat (unhealthy choices).

Love. We’ve all thought of it, imagined it, and probably experienced it in some way, shape or form. Some of us are on a constant mission to find our significant other. Up until a month ago, I was one of those people – except I thought I’d already found him.

I cannot begin to describe how much today’s media has set me up for heartbreak. In my head, I was solely focused on finding that special somebody who would understand me in every way and love me no matter what. I truly believed that when I found that person, my life would be complete.

Um, no.

Living for love’s sake can be incredibly unhealthy – I certainly think it was in my case. I learned five very important lessons from that relationship and how it ended. The good news is that, without having fallen in love, it might have taken me even longer to learn them.

1.    Love isn’t always meant to last forever.

Before I met this boy, I was in a very dark place. He came into my life at a time I needed somebody most, and I’m happy to say he changed it for the better. I don’t regret the time we shared, because being with him shaped me into the person I am today.

Sometimes, having someone who loves you is so powerful. It gives you confidence in yourself and body, reassurance that someone has your back, and a person to listen to your troubles.

But sometimes, just as a friend may come and go, a lover will too. It can happen. Love doesn’t have to last forever, the ending of a relationship really doesn’t have to mean failure, and you may find good times to remember or ways in which you’ve grown as a result.

2.    You will survive without a significant other.

Often we at least partly isolate ourselves to make more room for that ‘special’ someone. Yes, it’s lovely to spend time with those you love, but society’s drummed expectations like marriage and expanding families into us rather than independence.

While independence and relationships don’t have to be mutually exclusive, it’s good not to forget about support systems like friends and family. Isolating yourself in a relationship can make you feel like you wouldn’t be able to cope without that particular human. But you can, and you will.

My deepest grief when losing my lover was losing a sense of stability. I’d come to rely on him so heavily, to the point I’d begun to plan my life around him. When we broke up, I felt unmoored.

I was now solo. Could I still cope?

About a week after the break up, I realised I was okay, and that I would continue to be okay.

3.    Love is not the be all and end all.

Your life doesn’t start when you meet someone. Like so many young people, I used to yearn for love, and the experiences that come with love. Like so many young people, I was so busy waiting for someone to come along and ‘fix’ everything that I didn’t look too closely at ways to improve my life and improve myself.

This is something only you can do, and the result will actually attract someone who likes you for the person you are.

4.    Love doesn’t always prevail.

Sometimes, two people fall in love and it’s simply not enough to keep them together. They might be a perfect fit, and they might treat each other right, but unless their aspirations and lives click together, they will eventually be driven apart.

Wishful thinking, disbelief and false hope that the situation will change or get better will only create misery.

Maintaining a relationship takes active steps to fix situations that come up. If there’s no compromise or the work is one-sided, the relationship will inevitably crumble… most likely for the better.

5.    Always put yourself first.

In six months I gave up plans for furthering my education and moving away in order to make it work with someone who never planned to spend forever with me – though he made it seem that way.

I was willing to sacrifice so many things I wanted in life to help his dream succeed. My own dreams were flexible enough to take with me wherever he went, but after six months I realised he was never going to sacrifice as much as I would. He wasn’t even willing to adjust his goals to fit me into his life – certainly not in the same way that I’d adjusted mine. That was when I realised my mistake in giving up so much of my own life.

Always put yourself first. Do the right thing by others, of course, but never give up your life for the sake of love. True happiness can’t be found solely in the magic of love. It’s found when you are happy with yourself, and your life, and you’ve worked hard to get where you want to be. You’ll get as much out of life as you put into it.

I now have many adventures ahead of me including plans for travel and new careers. These are all things I’d never have considered or experienced if I’d stayed in my hometown with that boy for the rest of my life, though I don’t regret the time I spent with him.

Love will find me when I’m ready. Whether I’m in love or out of it, I plan to live my life to the full.