Relationship Mistakes Were Made, But Definitely Not By Me

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Relationship Mistakes Were Made, But Definitely Not By Me

“You Can Be Right, Or You Can Have a Good Relationship.” -My college relationship psychology professor

First, let me start by saying if you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you have my genuine sympathy and love. It’s monumentally difficult to trust anyone after these kind of things happen, and they are sort of life experiences that rock you to your core. This a tragedy and not at all what I am aiming to discuss right now. So don’t be all, “I have to tell her how ABUSE IS NOT THE VICTIM’S FAULT.” I know this on a very real level. Now, on to the point.

Ladies, I’ve been hearing a variation of this a lot in relationship-town lately. That is to say, some variation of the idea that you were completely innocent, just sitting there being your gorgeous self, on the receiving end of an endless stream of sex-crazed, lazy, impertinent jerks.

This is difficult to hear, since much like women, I know the vast majority men to be lovely creatures who genuinely want to give you love. They want other things that you do too, like sex and connection. They don’t have it altogether at all times, and unless they are bona-fide psychopaths, they most definitely DO NOT plan to hurt you. This doesn’t mean that they won’t and don’t, very badly. However, they are hurtling around the sun at the same pace you are, trying to make sense of their lives. They are not blameless nor are they completely to blame. You can’t have a good relationship with one while tip-toeing around either, so that’s not something I’m going to advocate or would even be able to pull off myself.

Sometimes it depends on what stage the man is at when you enter his life. Sometimes you show up during a time where sex is all he is really ready to consider. Sometimes given a few years, the same man is interested in settling down and having a family, after having had enough experience to feel comfortable being in this place in their lives. There is no one size fits all label for men, much like there is no one size fits all label for women.

However, I’m a big advocate of owning up to your relationship mistakes and try to do it myself whenever I fail miserably (and historically this has been a lot). The self examination after each and every failed situation is really helpful to think about what you did that didn’t quite work.

In this vein, some kinds of self examination are definitely NOT HELPFUL. This is the kind where you’re out there beating yourself up for the sweater you wore on the final day of your relationship.

Effective self examination is the kind where you say to yourself “okay self, how could I have made this person feel more loved?” or “okay lady, you sort of ripped his head off and punted it across the asphalt that time,” or even “well, we tried anal and I hated that so next time I need to say no.” It’s also important to recognize when someone was completely wrong for you and you just stuck around too long, trying and hoping to make it work.

It’s okay to cringe as you go through the realization that you didn’t always speak up or make your needs clear or that you let something go on way too long. The idea is to come to a place where you can operate in a kind and authentic way with your next partner. You also aren’t excusing his bad behavior by examining your own.

You must be willing to accept that you could have done something wrong that goes beyond the words you used or what you did leading up to the breakup. The easiest way is to blame someone else. The hard part is to be able to look at your behavior objectively and see what you did that is contributing to your stress, drama and failed relationships.

Things to ask yourself when examining your relationships, past and present:

  • Was I needlessly critical of things he said or did? Was he?
  • Did I sweat the small stuff? Did he?
  • Did I become jealous and/or possessive? Did he? How did this play out?
  • Was I unfaithful? Was he?
  • Did I really want out even though I’m still sad about the breakup?
  • Did I operate with clear boundaries? Did I let him cross them? Did I cross his?
  • Did I communicate my needs clearly and calmly?
  • What exactly happened?
  • What exactly was said?
  • Did I overreact, under-react or otherwise not make my needs known?
  • Did I apologize? Did he? Did I request an apology if I didn’t get one?
  • Am I trying to read his mind? Am I angry he isn’t reading mine?

These are questions to ask yourself when you have gotten a little distance on your experiences. They are absolutely not meant to beat you up, just to help you reach clarity about your part. If we’re honest, we ALL have a part. Wouldn’t it be horrible to be in a relationship where you had no part? Right. So get a little deep about what happened and think about which behaviors were truly helpful and which weren’t.

Sometimes blame needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the person to blame. While I cringe to say it, sometimes that person is you.

You only gain value out of your failed relationships if you examine what happened clearly and make them into learning experiences. I challenge you to do just this in an effort to make sense of your experiences and have things go better next time.

If you’ve had a guy go POOF! and disappear on you or feel like he’s pulling away, go get a free copy of my book and daily email series now.

Otherwise, let me know what you think in the comment section below!

Elizabeth Stone

About Elizabeth Stone

Elizabeth Stone is the founder of Attract The One.

Her popular program Ex Attraction Formula, has helped hundreds of women reunite with their men. She is thrilled to have helped so many people reignite the spark in their relationships.

Tirelessly focused on helping people improve their love lives, her work has been featured on EHarmony Blog, YourTango, Thought Catalog, Mogul, The Good Men Project, Fox News Magazine, Ravishly, Femalista, Popsugar, Read Unwritten, Medium and many more.

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