Learning Your Lessons From Past Relationship Mistakes

BY: - 28 Sep '12 | Marriage

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Broken Heart

by Grace Pamer

We are all creatures of habit, aren’t we? I don’t know about you, but the “mistake cycle of life,” as I call it and fall prey to time and time again, goes a bit like this: I make a mistake, I feel terrible, I vow to never do it again, time passes and the negative memory of the event fades, and I make the same mistake again.

I may proclaim to friends and family, like many other people will do, that “I won’t make the same mistake twice!” ““ but I do. Take the example of a speeding ticket. There is nothing worse than the blue lights in the rear view mirror, in addition to the heavy fine, hassle and fear of increased insurance rates. For months after the experience, I will drive slower than my grandmother used to, with frustrated and impatient drivers riding my bumper. But then something happens ““ the speedometer begins creeping up again once more and I’ve erased the negative memory from my mind ““ destined to get another speeding ticket in the near future.

Romantic relationships are also frequently the victims of the “mistake cycle of life.” After breaking up, I vow to never consider dating anyone “like him” again. As I sulk, completely alone, I think about all of the qualities I didn’t like which caused me pain, and commit to staying far away from any partner who seems even remotely “like he was.” But then I become blinded by the euphoria that the honeymoon phase of a new relationship brings, and I’m right back where I started from, destined for another heartbreak.

Whether a speeding ticket or romantic relationship, my failure comes from never learning a lesson. Given how often I see other acquaintances doing the same, I assume I am not alone. Life gives us lessons everyday and we can ignore them or grow and become better, happier individuals. For me, the time has come to start paying attention and find value in the pain. Life is a school and I no longer want to flunk out, so to speak.

Love and relationships, healthy ones that is, can lead to such a rich and fulfilling life. I want a lifetime of loving and laughter, not anger and tears. Assuming you feel the same, it is time that we start learning from past relationship mistakes. With pen and notebook in hand, the time is now to begin reflecting on what went wrong each time the partnership eroded. One column is for your past partners, things out of your control. The other column, however, is for you. Yes we all contribute to the health and/or destruction of relationships.

When the list is complete, this is where learning your lesson begins. Where your partners are concerned, look for themes that keep coming up. Do you tend to go for “bad boys” or “father figures?” Were their friends always first or did your partner suffocate you by being attached to your hip? Once you begin to see a pattern, you can create a healthy list of qualities that are essential in any future mate ““ and stick to it!

Finally, there is the issue of you. Sometimes we make the same mistakes in love because of our own weaknesses. Maybe you fear being alone, you date anyone who comes along, feeling lucky simply to be asked out. Perhaps you have difficulty with trusting others and over time that pushes your lover away. Whatever the case may be, the lesson to be learned isn’t always about the faults of others. Sometimes when we make the same mistakes again and again, the lesson to be learned is that it is us who needs to change.

Grace Pamer is the author of www.RomanceNeverDies.com, a blog which gives insights into the art of putting together the best marriage proposal ideas and relationship advice.


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  • Lorri

    Thank you for your honesty. I went through the phase of only dating men who were the exact opposite of an ex and was pointless. When you learn the lesson, you are ready for healing and for a new relationship.

  • Jacinta

    Thank you for this article and the attention that you are giving to singles. Perhaps you may consider doing a “singles series” and make it a DVD. After two failed long term relationships over the past 14 years (geez I’m getting old) I have dedicated a year or more off to start true healing and giving attention to the work that’s needed within myself. I have completed a little over a year so far of just being with myself (mind, body, spirit)…now my challenge is finally finding the right type of therapist to help me work through the process so I can get deeper into the underlying issues…. Any referrals in the MD/DC area?

    I will have to say one top lesson, FOR ME, is not to compromise my morals and beliefs for anyone which of course means finding shared morals and beliefs in a partner and to be very specific about what those are. I was certainly challenged in my last relationship of 9 years. Now…on to completing my list!

    Thank you

  • no comment

    Though I have not dated much in my adult life therapy (this year) has helped me to realize that I am attracted to men (unconsciously) who are emotionally unavailable which in turn keeps me single. Apparently my fear of being hurt and commitment is so strong that it is working on it’s own. Now that I have had that aha moment I am taking that steps to push forward and break the cycle.

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  • GeeGee4

    Thank you! This was right on time!!!

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