What leaving a bad relationship can teach you

What leaving a bad relationship can teach you

What leaving a bad relationship can teach you

What you learn from a really awful break-upWhen I was younger, I used to be terrified of breaking up with someone. The agony of it. The dread that you could no longer call or talk to or see that person. Touch them. The feeling that you’d rather die than live with the pain of that hole in your life one second longer.

It’s ironic that we often feel that way even when stuck in really bad relationships. Surely to break from those people would be a relief. But, like I wrote about on my advice column this week, you’re often just sticking around out of fear and love and a hope that person might change. And a terror that breaking up with that person would just topple you.

And sure, it might. It might tip your whole world upside down and leave you a shaking, crying mess who’s unable to function for a little while. But the pain, the ferocious pain and surprise and sadness at losing someone you treasured (even if he or she wasn’t all that good for you anyway) can also completely transform you. For the better.

Okay, so I’m not saying you want to go around getting your heart pulverised on a regular basis, but if it happens embrace it and learn from what it has to teach you. Which is a damn lot.

Perhaps most importantly, it teaches you to get better – so much better – at knowing what you want and asking for it. Eventually, you get so good at it that you spot red flags before they even pop up, and you either deal with them or walk. It teaches you to never, ever let bad behaviour slide without a discussion and a resolution. And if there’s no discussion or resolution, you walk.

Best of all, it teaches you that you’re stronger than you think. That you can survive crippling emotional pain and rise from the ashes of it. Maybe not today, or for a good while, but eventually – yes. You can be okay. And maybe even better than okay. You realise it’s true, that old saying, that what doesn’t kill you makes you a strong, fearless badass who’ll never take crap from anyone ever again.

This plays out in research, too. According to researchers Ty Tashiro and Patricia Frazier, authors of the study “I’ll Never Be In A Relationship Like That Again”: Personal Growth Following Romantic Relationship Breakups, people who go through break-ups experience huge personal growth. They get more confident. Happier. Independent. Enjoy new closeness with friends and family.

And you realise if the worst happened again – that you fell in love and it went sour – that it would suck, it would hurt, it would possibly send you spiralling for a while. But you’d deal. And that makes you fearless, and strong and resolute in the kinds of people you want to date, and love, and maybe even spend a lifetime with.

Do you agree that break-ups make you stronger? Or that most of us go through one big awful break-up that teaches you SO much about yourself and about other people and about life in general?


  1. KP 7 years ago

    Absolutely Break ups make you stronger. I have found that with every break up has come a new lesson, an opportunity to re-set and sometimes change direction and also to determine what I will and won’t settle for in a relationship.

    When you are going through the break up, you can never see clearly why it has happened – until you come out the other side of the grieving.

    Great article – thanks for sharing.

    • Letter To My Ex 7 years ago

      That’s so true that you can’t see clearly when it’s happening – break-ups cloud your judgement worse than anything… which is why I think many of us spend so long floundering and trying to figure out WHICH direction to take. But when you come out the other side, there is often just this peace and sense of relief which is amazing.
      So glad you enjoyed it though, thanks KP! 🙂

  2. Ghost 7 years ago

    A bad breakup will change a person. I feel like I don’t really miss the person, or even the memories, but rather the “sense of magic and wonder” that being with someone can bring to the most mundane of everyday life. The sunrise, certain songs, hell – even getting stuck in traffic just seems to feel different.

    • Letter To My Ex 7 years ago

      Totally relate to this, Ghost – there’s an emptiness you kind of struggle to fill, especially when in the early days of a split. For me though what comes with that is wishing I could tell that person something I normally might, or share a funny story (and not being able to). That’s the hardest thing

  3. Raphael 7 years ago

    It’s been like eight months she left me for the third time, yet it feels like forever.. In my mind, her face started to blur out.. Even I moved far away from her, still can’t pull back my life all together.. Guessed I might need more time to forget her.. Blocked her number, just too scared to have her back again.. My heart just can’t take it anymore.. I splurged on her wants not needs, its my fault in making her a gold digger.. I hope she’s in good hand now..

    • Letter To My Ex 7 years ago

      I’m so sorry Raphael, it’s awful when it’s off-on like that and just exhausting. I hope you’re doing okay.

  4. joey 7 years ago

    Just tell the person who your with how you feel instead of pushing me one step closer

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