What It Means If You Regret A Past Relationship (And How To Prevent It From Affecting Your Future)

Move forward with clarity and emotional freedom.

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I was talking to a client the other week, and he mentioned that he regretted a year-long relationship that had recently come to an end in his life. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone saying that they wished they could undo the fact that an intimate relationship had taken place.

If this is a thought that you’ve had about a specific relationship, then this short, dense article is going to be a bit of a mind f*** for you. Alright, no more pre-amble. No foreplay. Here’s what’s up.


What does it mean if you regret a relationship?

RELATED: How To Move On From Relationship Regrets (& Avoid Them In Future Relationships)

One of two things is going on if you wish you could take back a relationship.

  1. Either you aren’t finished processing your pain, or
  2. You haven’t given up the victim mentality, taken responsibility, and gleaned your lessons from the relationship yet.

Every relationship we ever engage in, no matter how frustrating, tumultuous, or painful it is, was attracted into our lives to teach us something specific. It doesn’t matter if the relationship lasted for a day, or for 100 years. It’s all valuable content for your never-ending character growth.


So if you’re in a place where you’re telling yourself you wish you could strike a relationship from your mental records, you either need to process your hurt, or search for the lessons.

Still hurting? Try the following.

1. Set aside an hour to be sad.

Listen to sad songs, look at photos of you and your ex, find the hurt in your body, and breathe deeply into it. Give the hurt your full attention and tell it, "Pain, you have a home here. It’s okay that I feel this way." Cry as much as you can, then take another deep breath and go about your day.

2. Write an angry letter to your ex where you let it all out.

Embrace the victim mindset and say all of the nastiest s*** you can think of. Then, burn the letter. Or, rip it up into tiny pieces and throw it in the recycling bin. No, you can’t send it to them. Your pain is your pain.


The point isn’t to externalize your pain and make others hurts; the point is to be responsible with your emotions and give them a healthy outlet.

3. Vent everything.

Vent all of your residual pain, frustration, and thoughts to a close, trusted, non-shaming friend who can hold space for you. Tell them what you want from them up front (most likely, not to have them offer any suggestions or advice, but simply to hear you out fully until you’re done), and then purge the words out of your mouth.

There’s a therapeutic benefit to being witnessed in our truth, even if our truth is temporary and being shared through the lens of our hurt. Share your thoughts, release any emotions that come up if that occurs, and then take a deep breath, hug your friend, and move forwards.

RELATED: 11 Reasons You Regret Breaking Up With That Jerk, Even Though You Know He's Awful


Still can’t find any tiny sliver of potential benefit that could have come from the relationship?

Or, totally at a loss for why you had to go through it? Try the following.

1. Is one frustrating aspect of the relationship that it was similar to other relationships you have had in the past?

(Either in how the relationship was day to day, or how it ended)? Then there must be a lesson that is trying to make itself known to you.

As Pema Chodron once said, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” If you keep finding yourself in the same type of relationship, or suffering from a similar style of relationship ending, then there is a pattern that is trying to emerge in your conscious mind.


Take out a journal, and write about the trend that you see emerging. Then ask yourself, "What lesson do I need to integrate from what this pattern is trying to show me about myself?"

2. In the earlier years of our dating life, we often need to go through a series of partners in order to simply learn more about ourselves, what we like, and what we don’t like in a romantic partner.

Maybe you dated someone who was extremely similar to you in many ways, and found that this lack of sexual charge wore on you. Or, perhaps you dated someone who was too different from you, and the lack of overlap was too challenging.

Sometimes, the relationships we attract into our lives are simply mirrors for us to look into, realize something new about ourselves, and then, armed with our newfound increased self-awareness, we take that lesson and find a more highly aligned partner.


3. Finally, some relationships come into our lives just so that we know to avoid that type of relationship in the future.

I say this point last intentionally because a lazy mind can want to race towards this solution when, in reality, they’re just bypassing their lessons and avoiding looking inwards in an honest way.

If someone rushed into a relationship and then broke your heart by leaving abruptly, look at your relationship to time, intimacy, and your own anxiety, to see how you could have attracted such a partner. Or, if you attracted someone who was highly vain and superficial, and you found yourself both being attracted to their charm and put off by it, look at your own propensity for superficiality.


In all of these instances, the master question is, “How am I like that?” When we honestly look at the overlap that we had with our ex, we stop giving up our power and putting the blame on them, and we take responsibility for ourselves and move forwards with increased clarity and emotional freedom.

RELATED: 6 Ways To Ditch Regret For Good And Focus On Your Amazing Future

Relationship coach Jordan Gray helps people remove their emotional blocks and maintain thriving intimate relationships. You can see more of his writing at JordanGrayConsulting.com.