3 Valuable Lessons Learned From Relationships, According To Women Who Have Been There

If you've ever seen an episode of Sex and the City, you're probably aware of the fact that relationships that don't last are ultimately good for two things: diversifying your sex life and teaching you valuable lessons about love. Whether you're a Carrie or a Samantha, each of your exes probably helped you learn something about yourself and your needs, even if you didn't realize it. Maybe your last partner was no Mr. Big, but there was still a reason you got into a relationship with them — and there were reasons you two broke up. Even if you aren't fortunate enough to have your own dating column in the paper, you can still reflect on your past relationships and try to make something useful out of all the heartbreak.

If you "can't help but wonder" what your ex could have possibly taught you about love, I get it. To help inspire you on your path toward acceptance, here are three stories from women who have been there. With some time to heal and think, they were each able to come away from their last relationships having learned a valuable lesson. It's important to remember that no matter how tough the breakup, you can almost always find a silver lining.

1It's important to communicate about what you want.

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Communication is vital to happiness, especially in long-distance relationships. I was long distance with a guy for a few months, and a huge reason it didn't work out was because we weren't great at talking about what we wanted. Our schedules were such that we couldn't see each other much, so we texted all the time, and very rarely about our expectations for this relationship. When we finally had the 'where is this going?' talk, our thoughts were very different. It stung, and long-distance relationships take a lot of work; but if we had communicated better from the start, I think everything would have played out differently.

— Lindsay, 23

2Your partner doesn't have to be your whole life.

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My last relationship was a four year-long LDR, two hour time difference included. During that time, weekly or even daily phone calls and Skype calls with my S.O. were a huge part of my life, as were things like college classes, a social life, internships, and full-time job searches as a college senior. It become hard for me to juggle all of those elements; although I had promised myself I'd never let long- distance guilt me into turning down things like hanging out with friends IRL, during our last year as a couple I'd find myself sitting in front of my laptop on a Friday night, waiting for my boyfriend to log online. That was not only difficult for me, but also a really isolating experience towards the end. I pushed away some very real things for something that was not.
The painful thing I learned post-breakup is that doing the things that made me happy, fulfilled, and excited me, even if they didn't involve or weren't him, would not have made me a bad person or a bad girlfriend. Just as my ex reasonably prioritized other things over our time together, I should have allowed myself to do that, too.
Now, in an in-person relationship ... I don't think twice about people, places, and experiences that energize and invigorate me but do not involve my current boyfriend. If there's anything I can say to anyone, it's that doing things without them doesn't make you less of a worthy partner.

— Wandy, 23

3Seriously, it's all about effective communication.

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Communication is key. My ex didn't know how to communicate in a timely manner, which would stress me out. He would just go MIA for days at a time, and especially if we were long-distance during breaks in college, it would drive me insane. If I got angry, I wasn't communicating the right way with him. With my current boyfriend of four years, the best part about us is that we have good communication.

— Melissa*, 23

Grab your best friends and don't forget the cosmos, because it's time for a girls' night in. By talking about your feelings and maybe even crying a few final tears over your ex, you can reflect on the pros and cons of the relationship and finally begin to move on.

*Name has been changed.

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