Often, patients speak to me about the fact that they feel like a failure because a relationship failed. They take the fact that a break-up, or even a series of failed relationships, is a direct indication that there is something deeply wrong with them. They feel flawed, unlovable, and that there is no hope for future success in romance.
Long-term relationships, and especially marriage, can feel like an insurmountable failure as you have invested so much of yourself, your time, and your identity being part of a couple. Many times, people have tried to work things out, gone to counseling, and even adjusted issues their partner was not pleased with.
But inevitably, the relationship still fails.
Failed Relationships Do NOT Make Us a Failure
No one is perfect – and hopefully, no one is claiming to be. We all have things that we could work on.
However, if you genuinely did the hard work and things still did NOT work out, you should give yourself credit for your efforts instead of focusing on the inevitable outcome. The truth is that, no matter what we do, sometimes, relationships are just not meant to work out. Maybe it’s because the issues have become too great to overcome.
Many times, couples go to couples’ therapy, if this means that things will be fixed, and they will move forward together. This is the ideal outcome, but is also NOT a given, by any means.
The national average of first time marriages ending in divorce is more 50 percent, and is even higher for second time marriages. Now consider that a couple that enters couples’ therapy is already largely teetering towards the negative 50 percent.
They do show strength and willingness to try by simply going. But about 50 percent of those couples will divorce as well. The benefit is that the couple is with a supportive and unbiased third party who can help them navigate an amicable break-up. This is especially important if children are involved.
Other times, relationships come to an end due to infidelity, falling out of love, years of poor communication and stress, or any number of issues. While you may have failed relationships, how you choose to navigate going forward can be your success.
What Failed Relationships Could Teach Us
Good or bad, there are lessons to be learned from our failed relationships. That lesson is that you are NOT a failure.
A relationship not working out allows us the opportunity to re-evaluate what we do and do not want in a relationship. How we have grown and changed; how our needs have changed as well, what is most important to us, and which are not.
Often, and especially after a long relationship, we will discover that what we thought we once wanted, has changed a great deal over the years. To find our more ideal match, and to have greater success, we need to adjust what we are looking for. Our knowledge of what we have learned is most important.
This is also an exceptional opportunity for self-growth. Many people are serial monogamists, who never really take the time to get to know themselves as a strong and self-confident individual. They have always viewed themselves and their identity as part of a couple.
To these individuals, I express the importance and the essential exercise of being single for a while and really getting to know yourself, as an individual. Also, as none of us are perfect, this is an ideal time to take stock in your half of a relationship, and what you need to work on to be a more ideal partner. When we have a more secure and more confident sense of self, we attract more quality partners.
People truly pick up on how we feel about ourselves – whether it be from a place of strength, or a place of weakness. Coming from a place of strength sets us off on strong footing from the start. When we feel good about ourselves, we are more willing to speak our mind, ask for what we want, as well as have healthy and open communication with our new partner.
Failed relationships hurt, and they are painful. But if we view them for the learning and growth opportunity they can be, we can become a better individual and a better partner because of it. In that way, we have far from failed – we have shown great strength and success.