Did you attend the College of Crappy Relationship Training?
Given that most marriages end in divorce these days, and that many more relationships never even make it to the marriage stage, learning how to get over a relationship as gracefully and respectfully as possible is fast becoming a key life skill.
I acknowledge this now, but my own training in relationships was pretty poor. My dad was a violent, abusive creep (yes, I absolutely appreciate that he had his reasons and I feel great empathy and compassion for him; how incredibly anxious and confused he must have been to have behaved that way. But he was violent, abusive and a perv). My mom blamed him for everything and saw (and still sees) herself as a victim, along with my brother and I. She never stepped in on our behalf or even, behind the scenes, offered any reassurance to our naturally hurt and confused selves, that his behaviour wasn't okay.
They would display horrible, degrading behaviour and then there would be no follow up, no clarification of why they were suddenly "OK" or how my brother and I could possibly trust that they were in fact, OK. We were left to wait for the next explosion. I was 13 when their marriage finally ended, and the aftermath was a total shambles. My dad moved his mistress in the day he kicked my mom out — not such great role modeling for respect and consideration, reasonable grieving, maturity, delayed gratification and oh, and don't let me forget: monogamy.
My mom sank instantly into a childlike state of dependence and depression. My brother and I were caught in the middle of their dysfunctional battle for property, acknowledgment and who gets to wear the mantle of "the victim", which lasted a decade more.
I still believe to this day that all of that mess could have been avoided and perhaps I could have been spared the great need for years of therapy and the many painfully embarrassing and degrading romantic and friendship encounters of my younger years had my parents just understood the basics of self-esteem and functional relationship. I can't do anything about the past except learn from it and not repeat the parts I don't wish to experience again. So that's what I'm all about. And this article is about helping you to learn from past and present experiences as fully as you can so you can only repeat the ones that feel good and really enhance your self-esteem and your quality of life.
So, if you're not in a committed relationship yet, this article is good timing! And if you are, this is good timing too — you can begin to create a healthy relationship at any time and the more you understand and acknowledge your part in how things came to be as they are, the easier it will be to change your part and to respectfully engage your partner in changing too.
Essentially, there are two parts to getting over a relationship easily and moving on with lessons learned, a hopeful, open heart, and your self-esteem intact.
1. The first part is about how you behave at the start of the relationship and during the relationship: what do you accept and allow from yourself and from the other person? This naturally sets the tone for what you will experience during your time with them.
2. And the second is about how you think about yourself and the other when it's all over:
How do you make sense of the things that happened; the decisions you each made? What part is yours? And what can you do to ensure that you do your best to learn from this experience and change your contribution to it?
The College of Crappy Relationship Training:
If we have attended the College of Crappy Relationship Training, like I was forced to as a child, then it's going to feel pretty natural to play games, use the silent treatment or maybe anger or threats or manipulation or passive-aggressive behaviours to communicate what you need and to try to create the kind of secure, loving connection you're desperately seeking. It might even feel natural to accept others yelling at you or hitting you, or lying to you or cheating on you.
As painful and damaging as it is, that may seem, based on your training, like just the way relationships are. You may try to talk yourself into accepting this and try to find a way to just be OK with this kind of abuse and dishonesty. Truth is, no matter how much you try, you'll never feel truly loved and secure in a relationship where these patterns are the norm, whether you're the instigator or the receiver, the end result is still insecurity, mistrust and a lack of true intimacy.
These patterns are never going to work to create any sort of stable, loving, safe place to be truly intimate with another human being. This is evidenced by the fact that our role models for Crappy Relationship Training did not themselves have a safe, happy, harmonious connection, nor did they seem to demonstrate much self-confidence and inner security. Basically: if you want the kind of marriage your role models had, just keep doing what they did.
If your parents modeled good relationship behaviors, you're very lucky. For the vast majority that experienced something else and wants to change their relationship dynamic for good, it's important for you to understand a few basic relationship truths and how to work with them to create the relationships you truly need and desire.
Truth #1: It's much harder to get over a relationship if you have compromised yourself, let others take advantage of you, and where you did not challenge yourself to be fully honest.
The greater your self-compromise, the greater the hurt, pain, anger and suffering at the end of the relationship. The good news is that moving forward, this is within your power. So even if you're in a relationship right now where you feel resentful and compromised, you can change the way you are in the connection. If the relationship ends you will feel proud and confident, not beaten and abandoned.
Truth #2: No healthy connection of any kind can be built on dishonesty. And just so we're clear: not speaking up about how you truly feel and what you need is dishonesty.
It is manipulative in the greatest sense to be dishonest about how you truly feel and what you really need, as you are deliberately manipulating your partner's experience of you rather than being yourself: honest about what you truly think, how you truly feel and what you really need.
This naturally leads to the other falling in love with the projection you have created of yourself when they very well may have fallen just as in love with the real you. And if they wouldn't have loved the real you, then you're setting both of you up for hurt and loss when your true self starts to come out as the relationship progresses (and it will). If you're not honest from the start about what you feel, like, don't like, need, etc. it is just a matter of time before resentment builds in both people as the "real" you comes out. You will naturally start to feel resentful that you can't be yourself (if this sounds familiar it's important to remember not to take this resentment out on the other — you made the choice to engage in a relationship where you felt you had to pretend.) Keep reading...
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