24 Valuable Lessons My Failed Relationships Have Taught Me
At my lowest point, and I do mean that literally, I was on my stomach, laid out on the bathroom floor after I found out I was going to miscarry my first pregnancy with the man I loved. It was a double loss for me because not only was I grieving the loss of my unborn baby, I was also grieving my relationship with him. You see, he had ghosted me. Again. I had been through breakups before, but by all accounts, this one was the worst because now I felt the guilt and the shame of being smart enough, wise enough, and old enough to know better.
It was the ending of this same relationship that forever changed my life, for the better. I'd always heard the saying that there's a purpose for pain, but I couldn't have imagined at the time that this single occurrence would be the catalyst for me to accomplish a life-long dream of writing my first book, earning a Master's degree, and creating an exclusive community for breakup recovery and personal development.
I've had some bittersweet moments on my journey to love. And I've come to realize that sometimes what we think is love is actually a lesson. Here are 25 lessons that my failed relationships have taught me.
1. No matter how bad it hurts, you will live through it. You already have.
Chances are, this wasn't the first heartbreak you've endured and it probably won't be the last.
2. Sometimes the people we want don't deserve us.
It's a hard pill to swallow, but a necessary truth to accept.
3. I don't want a boyfriend. I want a partner.
An active partner. An equal partner. A business partner. A prayer partner. A life partner.
4. I don't know if I'm ready for marriage, but I want a commitment. There is, however, a caveat...
I'm also afraid of commitment, but I'm working on that.
5. Heartache comes in different forms.
Like Lauren London, I've lost a partner to gun violence. Like Chrissy Teigen, I've lost a pregnancy. And probably, like you I've lost friends, family members, and this year, I lost my 16-year old Yorkie. I wish I could tell you the "right" way to get over the loss, but the truth is there is no right (or wrong) way to grieve.
It's hard. Sometimes it's so dark you can't even see the light at the end of the tunnel and the only thing you can do is feel your way through it. But I promise you, if you can get to the other side of the pain, love will be there waiting for you.
6. If he's really into you, you'll know.
And so will everyone else. You are too phenomenal to be regarded in any way that feels lukewarm.
7. Going forward, I don't want any kind of relationship where I have to question what we're doing.
If you have to question what you are, red flag.
8. Sometimes we're so caught up in WHO we want that we forget WHAT we want.
There's a difference, you know.
9. It's OK to cry.
This may sound weird, but when you do give yourself time to cry, I suggest giving yourself a cut-off. When time is up, it's time to get back up and move forward.
10. Despite feeling like you're going to die without them, every day your ex goes without calling you proves that you really can live without them.
And along with that, every day gets easier.
11. One thing about them tables...oh baby, they turn.
12. The way a person communicates with you is indicative of how they feel about you.
I said what I said.
13. Don't be confused by mixed signals from a person.
Indecision is still a decision.
14. I wasn't really in love with him. I was in love with what I thought it meant to be with him.
Sometimes, our partners are a reflection of something we lack. In my last relationship, for example, he was an extrovert, the complete opposite of me, but that was what I loved about him. He was like a magnet, attracting people from everywhere, whereas I prefer to be invisible, most days, yet, he saw me.
When we were together, I always felt like people were paying attention to him but he was very always focused to me. It was as if all those people loved him and he loved me, and that validated me in some way. He could have had any woman he wanted and he wanted me… at least that's what I thought.
15. Don't ever blame the other woman.
Like you, her loyalty was with him so the other woman owes you nothing. He does.
16. Men love familiarity so if it seems like he went out and got a woman just like you, he probably did.
Believe it or not, if you had the chance to get to know her, you'd probably realize that the two of you have more than just his penis in common, and you could probably be friends.
17. You can not change a man. And men do not change for women.
They change when they are ready.
18. Therapy after a breakup is money well spent.
When I was going through my breakup, I searched for a place where I could vent without fear or judgment. At that time, I couldn't find one that offered the support I was looking for, so I created my own. Everyone needs a support system.
19. I learned that forgiveness doesn't require reconciliation but reconciliation requires forgiveness.
Read that again.
20. If you're willing to settle for less, that's exactly what you'll get.
The saying is true, you get what you settle for.
21. Forgiveness isn't about letting someone off the hook.
Forgiveness really means that you are holding them accountable for how they hurt you but releasing the memory of it so it no longer triggers you. Now that's what you call peace, baby. Getchu some.
22. It's OK to be a little selfish, sometimes.
It's called setting boundaries.
23. You shouldn't be afraid to voice your opinions to your partner for any reason.
If you're afraid that he won't respond the way you want him to or he won't respond at all, that may be a red flag.
24. Pain is our body's way of telling us something is wrong. If your relationship is causing you pain, then it may be time to reconsider some things.
Contrary to popular belief, love doesn't hurt.
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Also known as The Real Black Carrie Bradshaw for her relentless love of shoes and emotionally unavailable men, DeJa K. Johnson is unapologetic in her pursuits to find love, happiness, and orgasms. A graduate of UA Little Rock, DeJa earned a Master's degree in Applied Communication with an emphasis on Interpersonal & Romantic relationships. She is also the founder of TheBreakupSpace.com, a safe space for men and women who need help getting over the loss of a romantic relationship. To connect, you can find her on all social media @TheRealBlackCarrieBradshaw or send her an email to love@TheRealBlackCarrieBradshaw.com.
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In pursuing the goal of experiencing the best sex ever, there are three main mistakes that I think a lot of people make. One is overthinking everything; the more mindful you are during sex, the more willing you are to just relax and be in the moment, and the more fulfilling your experience will be. The second thing? Becoming sexually lazy. One of the best things about sex is it can almost always be topped — so why not try?
The couples who are always trying to make the next experience better than the last rarely are bored, nor do they end up finding themselves in a sexual rut. And the third? Not being proactively intentional about bringing all five senses into the bedroom (or wherever they choose to do it). Indeed, something that makes sex top-notch is the fact that there are super sensual ways to incorporate sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch to it.
So, let’s do this. Let’s explore five ways for each of the five senses to be stimulated in such a way that sex with your partner won’t just be “good” — it’ll truly be unforgettable!
Write a sex note. It’s probably that I’m a words of affirmation person that I wrote articles for the site like “Every Woman Should Write A Love Letter To Themselves” and “Why Writing Love Letters Is A Surefire Way To Revive Your Marriage.” Either way, there are plenty of studies out here to support the fact that your handwriting reveals a lot about your personality. For instance, outgoing personalities tend to use bigger letters while shy folks use smaller ones, and the more legible your signature is, the more confident you tend to be (illegible speaks to being more private).
Anyway, it’s thoughtful, seductive, and it reveals a very personal side of you to handwrite a sex note to your partner. It can be a story, a memory, or a fantasy. Mail it to them (even if you live together), and put it in one of their office drawers or even under their pillow. Allow them to see you in this kind of creative light.
Text a super up close or blurry pic. Speaking of seduction, no matter how many times your partner has seen you naked, there are approaches you can take that will make it feel like it’s the first time. One is to take a super close shot of a body part and ask them to guess what it is. Another is to take a super blurry one and add a message that only they will understand. It’s gonna be hella intriguing either way.
Use candlelight. If you’re someone who would prefer to have sex in the dark while your partner wants the lights on, the compromise is to go with candlelight. It’s romantic. It’s body flattering. And, if you go with some scented soy (soy burns longer) candles like jasmine, vanilla, or patchouli, the candles will create an aphrodisiac atmosphere too.
Incorporate each other’s favorite colors. Something else that I’m a fan of is color psychology (check out “Understanding Color Psychology Will Sharpen Your Lens On Life”). Not only do different colors represent different things (and can affect your mood in different ways), but wearing your favorite color can make you feel better about yourself, while wearing your partner’s favorite color can entice them all the more. Definitely, something to keep in mind as you’re out here doing some lingerie shopping (when’s the last time you did that, by the way?).
Maintain eye contact. In almost any context, maintaining eye contact with people is important. Business Insider once published an article stating that eye contact cultivates attraction, maintains a level of honesty, helps you to be more memorable, and can even make it possible for two people to fall in love. Pretty sure you can see why I added this to the “sight” list. Eye contact during sex is EVERYTHING.
Verbalize, in explicit detail, what you want to do to your partner. Wanna do some sex pregaming? Give your partner a preview of what’s to come by calling them out of nowhere to talk about all of the things you want to do the next time the two of you are intimate. It will definitely pique their curiosity. Plus, this is a great workaround for people who struggle with dirty talk (a tip: don’t overthink it; your tone of voice matters more than your actual words anyway. No, seriously.).
Play nature-based ASMR sounds. If you’re someone who likes to listen to music or sounds of nature during sex (more on that in a sec), it might surprise you to know that you enjoy something that’s a low-key sexual fetish. It’s called auralism, and it’s all about being aroused via sound. As far as nature sounds (like rain, ocean waves, wind, etc.) go, science says that hearing them helps to reduce stress, decrease pain, and it can also put you in a way better mood.
So, the next time that you’re trying to create some ambiance go to YouTube and find some nature sounds (many of them run on a loop for hours on end). It’s an unsung hack that can make a world of difference as far as your sex life is concerned.
Whisper. Speaking of ASMR, did you know that sounds like whispering can create a literal “brain orgasm” without you even laying a hand on your partner? It’s relaxing. It’s seductive. It triggers euphoric sensations. Just thought I would put that out there.
Moan. Recently, while listening to the extended mix of the throwback R&B group Intro’s “Come Inside,” I was trying to figure out how people can “fake moan” and make it sound at least semi-convincing.
Anyway, if you want to heighten both your and your partner’s sense of hearing when it comes to sexual intimacy, moaning is gonna get the job done. In fact, according to science, moaning creates vibrations throughout the body that can intensify sex and orgasms. Plus, it’s a way to let your partner know that they are meeting your sexual needs.
So, if you’re a loud moaner, awesome (check out “Ever Wonder What The Sounds You Make During Sex Mean?” when you get a chance). If you’re self-conscious about doing it, remember that you’ve got science to back up giving it a shot ASAP.
Praise your partner.I once read that whenever someone receives a compliment, it activates the same part of their brain as receiving money (no joke). That said, I can’t think of any person who would ever get tired of receiving genuine praise for their sexual performance. So, before, during, and after the deed is done, be intentional about verbally affirming your partner for the things that you thoroughly enjoyed. Watch them “return the favor” once you do.
Put his favorite scent on your pressure points. The article “Feelin' On These Pressure Points Will Give You The Best Sex Of Your Life” is all about certain parts on your and your partner’s bodies that can intensify sexual pleasure whenever they are touched. That said, imagine how much more exhilarating the touches will feel if your partner gets to smell his favorite scent in those very spots.
Out of the five senses, smell doesn’t get nearly as much attention — oh, but it should, considering the fact that various smells connect us to certain emotions and memories. Not only that but studies say that those who have a stronger sense of smell ultimately have better sex lives too.
Apply essential oils to your bedding. Keeping what I just said in mind, when was the last time that you sprinkled some essential oils on your bedding? Personally, I prefer essential oils to perfume or cologne because they are good for your health, and the quality brands, tend to last much longer. And when it comes to sex specifically, there’s something about rolling around in aphrodisiac-based smelling sheets that really is a perfect touch (check out “8 Natural Aphrodisiac Scents, Where They Go & How To Make Them Last”).
Add fresh flower petals to your bed too. Roses have had a long-standing and pretty solid reputation for being an aphrodisiac scent too. Not only that, but some people even eat rose petals because they are loaded with antioxidants. Personally, I like the soft and feminine scent that fresh rose petals provide along with how great they feel on my skin. Get all of these benefits by sprinkling some fresh rose petals on your bed. You can never go wrong by doing so.
Add an aphrodisiac scent to your hair. A few years back, I penned an article for the site entitled, “Contrary To Popular Assumption, Black Women LOVE Getting Their Hair Pulled During Sex” — and you know what? It really is the icing on the cake for your hair to smell absolutely amazing as he does it. So, whether it’s perfume, cologne, or an essential oil, don’t forget to spray or rub some onto your tresses. Whew, chile.
Put some lavender and pumpkin oil in between your thighs. I will forever shout through the proverbial bullhorn that studies say that the combination of lavender and pumpkin oil can increase the speed of a man’s erection by a whopping 40 percent! Definitely, something to keep in mind if you’ve got a partner who battles a bit with erectile dysfunction or you’re someone who enjoys immediate penetration following being on the receiving end of oral sex.
Dab a bit of the combo in between your thighs and just watch — well, feel — what happens! (By the way, you can purchase a roll-on combo of two fragrances at an affordable price by going here.)
Get some honey dust. Back in my more active days (LOL), I took a hack from Valerie Malone via Beverly Hills, 90210, when she told one of her partners that she applies honey dust to her skin so that he could lick it off. Let’s just say that if you try it, you’ll be in for a wild ride. You can cop some for yourself here.
Experiment with some “sex condiments.” Along these same lines, one time I was working with a couple who both wanted a bit of assistance without making giving oral sex less awkward. I shot them the article, "12 ‘Sex Condiments’ That Can Make Coitus Even More...Delicious” that I once penned. Why?
Basically, sometimes it can seem a bit intimidating to take in natural body fluids. One way to make it less overwhelming is to “mask” the tastes with ones that are more familiar such as frosting, chocolate syrup, or even condensed milk.
Suck on some mint candy. Even though I’ve actually read that consuming mint can lower a man’s testosterone levels and ultimately his sex drive, if you gargle some mint mouthwash or suck on a mint prior to performing fellatio, the menthol can feel hella exhilarating for him and make his orgasms even more memorable. Hey, but you ain’t gotta take my word for it. A couple of years ago, some mints called Flintts were taking oral sex activity by storm, chile: “What the Heck Are These Oral Sex Mints All Over TikTok?”.
Play around with nutmeg and cloves. Whether you decide to make a dessert with nutmeg and cloves, drink some tea with these spices sprinkled in, or you come up with some other creative way to incorporate them into your plans for the evening, nutmeg is a solid libido-booster and cloves increase energy levels and blood flow (including to your genital region) as well as increases your body temperature. Where’s your spice rack at?
DIY some dried figs. There is nothing wrong with bringing food into the bedroom. That said, next time, how about some figs? Visually, they are a fruit that’s actually used to symbolize the vagina; plus, the amino acids in them help to relax the blood vessels in your body, so that blood is able to flow freely through you and your partner’s genitalia. You can get a ton of dried fig recipes here.
Wear silk lingerie. Even though lace has quite the reputation when it comes to lingerie, a fabric that deserves a lot more attention is silk. It’s soft. It’s luxurious. And, by many, it’s considered to be the most sensual fabric there is. Also, on the practical side, silk can help to reduce hot flashes, improve your quality of sleep, help to prevent yeast infections, and improve the appearance and feel of your skin. All worthwhile selling points to keep in mind for the next time you’re picking up a teddy or baby doll ensemble.
Twist your wrist during fellatio. I enjoy Black web series. One from back in the day that I will rewatch from time to time is called Diary of a Cheating Man. In episode two, (the character) Cory gives away a fellatio hack that I can personally vouch for.
If you’re someone who is a bit skittish about giving head, something that can take some of the mouth pressure off is to use your hands more. Apply an edible lubricant and then twist your wrist clockwise and counterclockwise as you’re gently moving up and down his shaft. That way, you don’t have to do quite as much sucking (if that’s not your thing; do lick, though), and he won’t feel (quite so) gypped because of it.
Use your tongue where you would put your hands. I recently read an article (entitled “The Human Tongue Can Help Blind People 'See' The World. Here's How”) that said, “The brain can allocate tactile attention on the surface of the tongue in the same way as the hands or other modes of attention.” If you add to this the fact that, although the tongue is not the strongest muscle in the body, it is, most definitely one of the most flexible, and you add to that how warm and wet it is — it will only benefit you and your partner to substitute your tongue for your hands during foreplay…don’t ya think?
Play with each other’s belly buttons. One of the best ways to keep your partner intrigued is to not always go for the “predictable” body parts. For instance, when’s the last time that the two of you played around with each other’s belly buttons? The belly button has multiple nerve endings, it’s a fun way to tease your partner during foreplay, and it’s not uncommon for women to feel clitoral stimulation whenever that area of their body is caressed in any way. So, why not kiss, massage, or use your fingers to play around with the belly button during sexual activity? You both may be pleasantly surprised by the sensation that it creates.
Kiss during afterplay. One more. A question that I get asked fairly often is what can increase a woman’s chances of having multiple orgasms. There are several. One of them is to kiss during afterplay (which is basically foreplay after having sex). There is a lot of intel in these streets (check out “Wanna Climax More? KISS MORE.”) that cosigns on the fact that kissing is extremely stimulating.
So, even though few things top spooning naked and taking a nap after getting in a round of romping, an immediate — as they used to say it back in the day — make-out session following your first orgasm can definitely put you on the path to experiencing a second one. Try it. How could you — and all of your senses — not like it? Enjoy!
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