What to (and not!) learn from your past relationships

The last time I had a really bad breakup, people kept telling me “It wasn’t a waste as long you learned something from it.” I say this with full love in my heart for these people, but a week after a breakup is not a good time to hear this. I would think with great bitterness and characteristic drama, “Oh, so to learn that I’m unlovable, all I have to do is put myself through a heart-pulverizing breakup – fantastic.”

As time dribbles on, however, one does gain some perspective. Our minds sort of force us to learn something. Sometimes the learnt info is useful and helps us become a better person / partner… *BUT* I have learned that you can learn the wrong things and draw the wrong conclusions from your own experiences. 

What not to Learn

I think one of the most natural things to learn from a past relationship is signs and cues that whoever you’re dating is going to hurt you. You learned that his long delays between texts meant he was losing interest, or her need for “alone time” was really her need for cheaty-cheat times. It is all too easy to transfer that knowledge – of what that speific action for that specific person meant for your past relationship in that specific moment in time – to a new relationship. So if he takes a while to respond to a text or she turns down a Friday dinner to reportedly read Brandon Sanderson in her apartment, it’s easy to think “Welp, let me cut my losses early and move on before this all-too-familiar and way-too-painful scenario plays out again. I ain’t no fool!”

Wrong Donald Trump GIF by Election 2016 - Find & Share on GIPHY

While there are probably some general signs and cues someone is being a shady dickwad, I think this sort of learntedness is more likely to sabotage potentially healthy relationships than protect your lil ticker.

Jo-Jo’s delays between texts may have meant he was not that into you, but Captain Wonderful’s delays between texts may mean he is working at his job with integrity and turned off his phone so he wouldn’t be tempted to text you every five minutes. Amber’s alone time might have been a cover-up for her skanky side hustles, but Classy Clairice’s alone time might be a sign that she knows and takes care of herself.

Let me also interject, if I may,* that it can be a very dangerous game to discuss your significant other’s behavior with other people. Because just as people are prone to inappropriately generalize their past experiences to ruin their own relationships, they are equally prone to inappaoprirately generalize their past experiences and unintentionally ruin your relationships. So don’t let your best friend’s experience with a McDouche give you a frantic paranoia about your current partner. This can happen in like manner —

You (unconcernedly): “Yeah, Captain Wonderful and I haven’t been texting as much lately.”

Your best friend: “Oh no. I remember when I was dating McDouche, he started texting me less when he was pursuing another woman.”

You (concernedly:

Key And Peele Reaction GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

What to Learn

I think what has been helpful to me is to learn what you can “deal with,” and what you can’t. What’s a deal breaker, and what’s not. Think about your own role in things souring, and how you could do things differently.

Par example

You may have always loved country music. Maybe Jo-Jo hates country music, and never wanted to go to concerts with you. When you and Jo-Jo were dating, that drove you crazy. So you can learn that country music concert attending is a really big deal to you.

As for your own role, this is much harder and annoying to do. But you can learn that in the past you were too uncomfortable with relationship ambiguity early in the relationship. You picked apart and over-analyzed the relationship so much that it snuffed out its ability to develop organically. So you can learn to relax and enjoy the flirty texts and awkward silliness of a budding relationship without constantly pulling the relationship emergency break to have a long, drawn out convo about how, where, why your relationship is going.

So sure, learn — but learn the right stuff! RESIST PARANOIA !

Paranoid Classic Film GIF by Warner Archive - Find & Share on GIPHY

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Of course I may, it’s my blog! papow!

Red flags, long hikes, and burritos

[I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about romanticals anymore, but I discussed it with the queen of Galloblog and she extended her scepter. So I think for at least this one time I can get away with it.]

Okay, kids. What I want to talk about today are “red flags,” or as they say in France, drapeaux de rouge. Red flags are those indicators when you’re dating someone that they might be the cheatin’ kind, afraid of commitment, addicted to drugs, a pathological liar, a wearer of pastel colored shorts— anything indicative you should run for your life.

Red-flag-1

Red flags are important to talk about, because err’body is going to cause you to throw up a red flag or two, even if they are generally fantasimo. Indeed, people who end up happily married discover things about each other along the way that make them question their character (“you were still dating other people when you met my parents?!)” or sanity (“you face the water when you shower?!”). Despite these unnerving realizations, sometimes the perceived value of the flagged-one is so great that the flagger is still willing to work through their pain and shock. But we all have a red flag threshold that, when exceeded, makes us call the game early and go home.

My threshold used to be too low, (probably) and sensitive to the wrong sort of “problems.” I would be dating someone and think, “Oh Lorttttt, he orders water with lime, because he’s too fancy for a humble lemon? I can’t handle this.”

But in my most recent foray into romanticals, I think I put my threshold too high, for things that were important. I was collecting red flags for this hombre like they were going out of style. None of these red flags indicated he was a psycho or a bad person— he was a good guy, and my decision to date him wasn’t only because he looked like Eric Church when he wore a baseball cap and sunglasses (but for real…). We shared the same faith, had similar political views, liked a lot of the same music, enjoyed eating sushi bowls and fawning over doggos, valued traveling over accumulating stuffz, both intelligent in complementary ways, and were attracted to each other.

BUT!!! If my ex-bf, me, and a rando hobo were asked “Describe your perfect weekend,” I think I’d have more in common with rando hobo.

Par example

Gallo’s perfect weekend

  • Friday night : game night with a lot of friends*
  • Sat morning: wake up early to read or write in a hipster-y coffee shop for a few hours
  • Sat afternoon: go on an outdoor adventure (e.g. rock-climbing) with a bunch of ppl I’ve never met*
  • Sat evening: meet up with a few close friends to do something artsy or cultured, (e.g. see a play)*
  • Sunday morning: meet up with my mentor before church, attend church *
  • Sunday afternoon: lunch with my parents*, then go on a long hike*
  • Sunday evening: read an interesting book

Gallo’s ex-bf’s perfect weekend

  • Friday night: make music in room
  • Saturday morning: Perhaps make a breakfast burrito
  • Saturday afternoon:  gym, sauna, miscellaneous errands
  • Saturday evening: sit on back porch and listen to music *
  • Sunday morning: Maybe church*
  • Sunday afternoon: Nap
  • Sunday evening: Professional massage to unwind from the stress of the day

*Activities that I/he would have been happy to do with each other

What jumps out to you? Differences in the love of hanging out in groups? Differences in outdoorsiness? Differences in how much we wanted the other to share in our activities?

 

30157CF3-E692-4D46-96B9-3764075235B1-5901-00000840E5066F83
My ideal

 

5D4D0975-1416-495B-B853-E75C49A52E36-5901-000008411B7A26C7
His ideal

HOW ABOUT ALL OF THE COTTON PICKIN’ ABOVE??

Do you see how miserable we would have made each other??

His reaction to my weekend plans: stress and anxiety, feeling smothered.

My reaction to his weekend non-plans: frustration and boredom, feeling abandoned.

Now, there is of course a time and place to work through incompatibilities. But 1-2 months into dating is probably not that time. Once you’ve confirmed the person has similar values and doesn’t seem insane or abusive, they still might be a terrible fit for you.

I know this little piece of advice is probably not earth-shattering to any of you, but I think it’s important because it’s a really big deal — but unlike other “tests” of compatibility, it doesn’t take too much time or emotional depth to figure this out. So if you’re date-smart – unlike your favorite blogger – you can save yourself a lot of time and heartache by asking this simple question — “Can we plan a weekend together without one of us needing to pop a Xanax to make it through?” If not, release them back into the dating wilds.

Life is too short to be tortured by your SO’s SOP!

 

the 6 stages of post-break-up grief, in gifs

#1 – Nothing but pure, unadulterated despair

Sad Diane Keaton GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

#2 – when you realize it’s really over and most of the great men in the world got married when they were 19

Feels Breaking Dawn GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

#3 – you let all the positive affirmations from friends and family sink in.. maybe goes to your head

I Am World Tour GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

#4 – you decide you hate men and resign yourself to be a cat lady forevs

Adopts Cat Lady GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

#5 – but then your hormones make a strong case for staying in the game

How You Doin Flirting GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

#6 – hope for the future

Claude Rains GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

 

How to be emotinally disabled forever

I talk a lot about how to Forget It and Drive On (aka FIDO), but I was recently convicted about how narrow minded I have been. Some of you don’t feel like FIDOing, but want to Remember and Stay Here (RASH). In honor of symmetry and inclusivity, I’m offering 10 steps that are guaranteed to kick any efforts at FIDOing right where it hurts. This is especially helpful for RASHing when it comes to romantical angst. Lean in and listen up!

sad
Poster RASH child. He’s even sitting down. (pixabay free image)

1) Talk about your heart break obsessively

Talk about it with your mom, sister, friends, hairstylist, Trader Joe’s cashier.. Don’t be duped by sneaky changes of subject – whenever anyone tries to distract you and talk about something uplifting, skillfully work around that positivity and drive your depressing convo down the court (SPORTS REFERENCE!! WHAT?!).

2) Create shrines in physical space 

shrine
This is how you should think about your local Wendy’s (pixabay free image)

Did you used to get frosty’s with your ex-bf at your neighborhood Wendy’s? Make sure you declare this space Sacred and try to create as few new memories there as possible. That way, if/when you do find yourself at that Wendy’s, you can be flooded with memories of that person. When the moment is right, make sure you confide quietly to your friend group, “I’m sorry.. it’s just that.. we always used to come here for Frosty Friday.” Then let a gentle river of tears run down your cheeks. Quiver your lips for extra effect.

3) Picture obsess 

depressed2
Let’s pretend this dude is staring at a picture (pixabay free image)

Don’t let personal time go to waste doing anything productive or refreshing. Jump on the interwebs, and go through every picture you and your past love ever took together – especially ones that mark momentous occasions (e.g. the first night you kissed). Zoom in on the person’s face. Think about how great you looked together. Print out the pic that brings back the most painful, bittersweet memories, and post on your ceiling so it’s the first thing you see every morning.

4) Define yourself by your pain  

It’s important to make sure that this event defines you. You are no longer a 27 year old female with a PhD, you are a heart-broken 27 year old female with a PhD.

5) Never stop asking “But.. Why???!”

stringconspiracy
This is the way to understand why she broke up with you. (this is a meme.. surely no copy-right issues here…?? PLEASE DON’T SUE ME)

Make every attempt to understand every action and intent that led to the situation. Whatever you do, never think to yourself “I may never know – that person’s behavior and those events could have arisen for several different reasons, and that’s okay.” No ma’am!  It is *not* okay! I suggest making a string-conspiracy board to figure it out.

6) Revel in the drama 

depressed
^sepia is an excellent way to intensify your feels. (pixabay free image)

Whether you’re feeling sad, mad, guilty, jealous, etc., make sure you just dive headfirst in that ocean of dramatic feels. Make it clear to everyone that you are A LITTLE EMOTIONAL RIGHT NOW. One of my fave ways to do this is to post cryptic, depressing status updates on social media.

7) Split your life epochs around the event / person 

Thinking about your life in years, education (e.g. high school, college, grad school), or jobs will not do. The period of your life before you dated Jo-Jo is now “Pre- Jo-Jo” and the time after “Post- Jo-Jo”. Everything hinges on this event. It has split your heart, therefore it must split your life.

8) Refuse to cut your losses or accept that you may have been snookered (aka taken advantage of) 

If you think someone wronged you, obsess over how you could have avoided the situation in the first place, how you can seek revenge, or how you can avoid EVER being taken advantage of again. Bonus: guaranteed to ruin all future relationships, romantic or otherwise!

9) Make playlist of feelsy music

Think along the lines of James Blunt’s “Goodbye my Lover.” Whatever music gives you the feels and reminds you of the person, play it loud, play it proud, play it on a loop.

10) Binge watch movies and TV shows that give you the feels

Similarly, stick in that rom com or rom dram that reminds you the most of your relationship when it was happy, and let your ticker marinate in the misery. Think about how your reality was so close to whichever fictional story. Decide that you deserve for that fictional story to be your life.

Good luck, RASHers! Let me know how this goes for you!

Have any more useful RASH tips? Please send them into me!