Being in the wrong relationship can teach us so much about love.
It is for that reason that I will always be grateful for the time I spent with my ex-partner.
While we no longer have any contact, he taught me a great deal about what a wrong relationship looks and feels like for me that I now know a whole lot more than I did about what the right relationship will look and feel like.
While he wasn’t the right fit for me he will always be one of the most important characters in my story because our relationship taught me things about myself that I wouldn’t have known had we not come together.
Our three years together taught me what I most need and value in a relationship.
While the end of a relationship can feel like the most painful thing in the world, it can also be the gateway to some of our deepest learning and growth.
Here are just 7 things that being in the wrong relationship taught me about love:
1) Love Doesn’t Drain Your Energy
“I don’t care how intelligent or attractive someone is, if he zaps your energy, he isn’t for you. True chemistry is more than intellectual compatibility. Beyond surfaces, you must be intuitively at ease.”
― Judith Orloff
Feeling like we’re constantly lacking in energy when we’re around someone is the strongest signal our bodies can send us that something isn’t right.
I’ve started thinking of love as being like a lightbulb. When I’m around someone do I feel like I’m operating at the full 100 watts or do I feel that my light is constantly dimmed or flickering?
Taking note of whether we expand or shrink in someone’s presence can be a really helpful gauge as to how good a particular relationship is for our health and wellbeing.
In my last relationship, I was sick more often than not. I picked up every cold and virus going around.
I felt seriously rundown, overwhelmed, exhausted and depleted.
Energy doesn’t lie so if spending time with someone leaves us feeling mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted, that’s a very good sign that we’re not a good energetic match with that person.
Always pay attention to how you feel around other people.
2) Love Doesn’t Make You Cry All The Time
Life can be hard. What we don’t want is a relationship that makes it harder.
While all relationships have their fair share of challenges it should not feel like a challenge all of the time.
Good relationships, while strengthened through hardship, are nourished by happy times, fun, and laughter — those beautiful memories are what help us to weather the storms when they come.
While there were happy times in my relationship, I also have a lot of memories of nights spent crying myself to sleep and days where I longed to be seen and heard.
There were many times where I felt desperately alone in my relationship and I now realise that feeling alone when you’re with someone is so much worse than being single.
If we’re crying more than we’re laughing, if we feel a frequent heaviness in our heart and soul, then those are good signs that this relationship is toxic for us.
3) Love Doesn’t Minimize Your Feelings
“Do not make the mistake of thinking that you can defend yourself against this. You can’t. Just walk away. Don’t try to make your case. At the end of the day, you will be judged by your behavior — not your words. Walking away is very powerful.”
We know we’re in the wrong relationship when we try to raise genuine issues or concerns with our partner and get one, or more, of the following responses:
• You’re too emotional
• You’re too sensitive
• You’re always blowing things out of proportion
• Nothing I ever do is good enough for you
These sorts of responses are both damaging and manipulative.
They are designed to shut us down.
To diminish our voice.
To silence us.
To have us believe that the problem resides solely in us and not them or the relationship.
I know from experience how damaging these statements can be to our mental health and wellbeing.
It left me feeling like I was going crazy
It left me thinking that there must be something wrong with me.
That I was in some way broken.
It is so important that when we hear those words being said to us that we do not take them on. That we do not let them inside our hearts and minds as if they were fact.
We are not too sensitive or too emotional.
We are simply someone who feels things deeply. Someone who has a strong inner voice that alerts us to when someone has crossed a boundary.
If something doesn’t feel right in our relationship then it’s not.
Nobody has the right to minimize our experience or tell us that what we’re feeling isn’t correct.
End of story.
4) Love Doesn’t Just Take
While relationships should absolutely be a place we go to give and not get, there needs to be a balance.
Mutual give and take is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship and without it resentment can quickly build.
If we’re someone who has a selfless, generous, thoughtful heart and we’re in a relationship with someone who is happy to take all the love and kindness that we have to offer while giving little back, then it’s time to think deeply about whether this is someone we want to spend the rest of our life with.
This was the decision I was left facing earlier this year.
While I believe my ex-partner to be a good man at his core, he has a strong scarcity mentality which meant he took from the relationship bucket until there was nothing left.
There will undoubtedly be times in any relationship where one partner is giving more than the other for a variety of reasons but this should not be happening consistently.
It’s so important that each partner is frequently making love deposits and not just withdrawals.
5) Love Is About Teamwork
Healthy relationships are built on teamwork and are places where both partners make decisions, from where to buy a house to what they’re going to do that weekend, together.
If one partner is dominating the show and running the relationship and the other is left feeling powerless and trapped then that’s a toxic relationship.
If we partner with someone who is naturally quite assertive and dominant, and we are not, we need ensure we speak up for ourselves so that one person is not running the relationship.
For a relationship to be a fully functioning team, both partners need to be able to have a voice.
6) Love’s Resources Are Shared
Strong relationships are all about mutual support.
Sometimes it will be us who is going through a rough time and in need of support and sometimes it will be our partner.
In my relationship with my ex-partner he required so much of the relationships resources that there was little left for me.
I wasn’t able to have any needs because his needs took up so much of our time and energy.
The ability to take turns being the supporter and being supported is vital to the wellbeing of any relationship.
If one partner is constantly hogging the relationship spotlight and draining all of its precious resources then that is not a healthy relationship.
7) Love Is Not Verbally Abusive
Love and abuse of any kind cannot co-exist.
While instances of verbal abuse were not a daily occurrence in our relationship, they happened enough times for me to see the way my ex-partner managed his stress as a major red flag.
The true nature of our relationships are not seen during the good times.
The true nature of our relationships can only be observed during times of challenge and hardship.
It is there that we learn how we each react to stress and the daily irritants of life.
It is there we learn how we each deal with conflict and things not going our way.
If somebody is verbally, physically, or emotionally abusive towards you that is not love.
Partners who are in healthy and loving relationships find ways to deal with their emotions in a way that does not inflict damage on each other or the relationship.
The Wrong Relationship Can Teach Us So Much About Love
While it can be incredibly challenging and painful when we’re going through it, the people and relationships that are ultimately not right for us can teach us such a lot about love.
It is only through being with the wrong person that I now have a clear idea of what the right person looks like.
It’s only through being in the wrong relationship that I now know what I want the right relationship to look and feel like.
Love will always bring with it challenges but on the whole the right relationship should be filled with kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, and support.
Love should bring peace to our hearts and lightness to our soul.
The right relationship will expand us in ways we could never have imagined possible.
Hold out for that.
Hold out for a love that makes you the very best version of you that you can be.