As a society, we tend to look at breakups and divorce as a failure. But a relationship ending doesn’t mean it wasn’t successful in some way. Sometimes a fling is ideal for both parties, sometimes a long marriage ending is the only chance for a new beginning, and every relationship teaches you something you didn’t know before.
There’s no doubt that ending a relationship is difficult, and often quite painful, but it can certainly be for the best — the best for you, and the best for others. As philosophy YouTube channel The School of Life puts it (video below), there’s this collective assumption that for love to be real or genuine, it must be eternal.
“True love,” as they say, is endless, everlasting love. And any relationship ending before someone perishes is a failure and should be considered an emotional catastrophe, right? Wrong. There’s no pass or fail when it comes to love, only beginnings and endings. It’s like saying one failed at their career because they decided it was best to leave a particular job to see if there might be a better fit elsewhere.
We champion this concept of the life-long love story, making it the ultimate goal, but many of us rush to get there. We don’t grant ourselves the freedom to find out what truly makes us feel content — partially because we know compromise is essential, but also because we don’t actually know what we want out of a partner (or if we want one at all).
Short relationships teach you that. You get together, you learn things, and it either continues because it’s right, or it comes to an end because it’s not. But every ending gives you knowledge that will help you find a better, stronger beginning in the future.
In fact, if you went over everyone you’ve ever been with in your head, you could probably think of at least one vital thing you realised while you were with each one of them. Maybe you learned that you need someone who’s more affectionate and pays closer attention to the little things. Perhaps you realised that you’re attracted to ambition as opposed to apathetic stability. Or maybe you simply came to terms with the fact that you’re a tidy person that can’t be with a slob.
If you can come away with one of those tiny epiphanies every time things don’t work out, that’s a success! It may not feel like it right away thanks to your emotions and social pressure, but it is, so don’t despair.
Eventually, you may begin a relationship that doesn’t end — it happens all the time — but until then, it’s ok to simply learn things about yourself and what you want in a partner.