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24 Valuable Lessons My Failed Relationships Have Taught Me
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24 Valuable Lessons My Failed Relationships Have Taught Me

Sometimes what we think is the end is actually just the beginning.

Dating

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.

Facts.

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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Featured image by LaylaBird/Getty Images
Black Women, We Deserve More

When the NYT posted an article this week about the recent marriage of a Black woman VP of a multi-billion-dollar company and a Black man who took her on a first date at the parking lot of a Popeyes, the reaction on social media was swift and polarizing. The two met on Hinge and had their parking lot rendezvous after he’d canceled their first two dates. When the groom posted a photo from their wedding on social media, he bragged about how he never had “pressure” to take her on “any fancy dates or expensive restaurants.”

It’s worth reading on your own to get the full breadth of all the foolery that transpired. But the Twitter discourse it inspired on what could lead a successful Black woman to accept lower than bare minimum in pursuit of a relationship and marriage, made me think of the years of messaging that Black women receive about how our standards are too high and what we have to “bring to the table” in order to be "worthy" of what society has deemed is the ultimate showing of our worth: a marriage to a man.

That's right, the first pandemic I lived through was not Covid, but the pandemic of the Black male relationship expert. I was young – thirteen to be exact – when Steve Harvey published his best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Though he was still just a stand-up comedian, oversized suit hoarder, and man on his third marriage at the time, his relationship advice was taken as the gospel truth.

The 2000s were a particularly bleak time to be a single Black woman. Much of the messaging –created by men – that surrounded Black women at the time blamed their desire for a successful career and for a partner that matched their drive and ambition for the lack of romance in their life. Statistics about Black women’s marriageability were always wielded against Black women as evidence of our lack of desirability.

It’s no wonder then that a man that donned a box cut well into the 2000s was able to convince women across the nation to not have sex for the first three months of a relationship. Or that a slew of other Black men had their go at telling Black women that they’re not good enough and why their book, seminar, or show will be the thing that makes them worthy of a Good Man™.

This is how we end up marrying men who cancel twice before taking us on a “date” in the Popeyes parking lot, or husbands writing social media posts about how their Black wife is not “the most beautiful” or “the most intelligent” or the latest season of trauma dumping known as Black Love on OWN.

Now that I’ve reached my late twenties, many things about how Black women approach dating and relationships have changed and many things have remained the same. For many Black women, the idea of chronic singleness is not the threat that it used to be. Wanting romance doesn’t exist in a way that threatens to undermine the other relationships we have with our friends, family, and ourselves as it once did, or at least once was presented to us. There is a version of life many of us are embracing where a man not wanting us, is not the end of what could still be fruitful and vibrant life.

There are still Black women out there however who have yet to unlearn the toxic ideals that have been projected onto us about our worthiness in relation to our intimate lives. I see it all the time online. The absolute humiliation and disrespect some Black women are willing to stomach in the name of being partnered. The hoops that some Black women are willing to jump through just to receive whatever lies beneath the bare minimum.

It's worth remembering that there are different forces at play that gather to make Black women feast off the scraps we are given. A world saturated by colorism, fatphobia, anti-Blackness, ableism, and classism will always punish Black women who demand more for themselves. Dismantling these systems also means divesting from any and everything that makes us question our worth.

Because truth be told, Black women are more than worthy of having a love that is built on mutual respect and admiration. A love that is honey sweet and radiates a light that rivals the sun. A love that is a steadying calming force that doesn’t bring confusion or anxiety. Black women deserve a love that is worthy of the prize that we are.

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Featured image: Getty Images

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