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!”

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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:

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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 !

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— EDITORIAL NOTES —

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

This girl was homeschooled for 12 years. What happened after that will have you in tears!

 

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Where did Gallo get her swag?? Born with it.

Meet Lil Gallo, age 5ish. Her mom began homeschooling her a few months before her 6th birthday. What happened next?

As a child and pre-teen, she had tons of extra time to volunteer on political campaigns. Shook the President of the United States hand when she was 11 years old. During his gubernatorial campaign, Sonny Perdue knew her by name. Met a lot of amazing, crazy, interesting people.

As an older teen, she got a job in high school working 30ish hours a week. Worked there for 4 years, and received several promotions and raises. Made a lot of friends there, many of which she still keeps up via the book of faces.

During that time, she also started attending a state college as a full time student. Made some great friends of all kinds of races, religions, and political affiliations, some of whom she hangs out with 10 years later. Graduated summa cum laude in 4 years.

From there she became a graduate student at a private University. Received her Master’s degree in 2 years, and her PhD 4 years after that. Made some friends, dated some fellers, traveled around the country and world.

Currently does research, loves to meet new people and travel, and writes a mainly-idiotic blog for funsies.

But WAIT! Isn’t she mal-adjusted, socially inept, scared of the world, set back in life, etc.? No, you ignorant snobbo.

So– have some people had terrible experiences with homeschooling? Of course.. just like others have had terrible experiences with various public and private schools. Are some parents psychotic? Of course… as are some teachers and peers in more traditional schools.

I don’t really care if people homeschool their kids or not, but I do care that people have all sorts of super-negative ideas about it. This post was anecdotal, for sure — but there have also been a lot of academic studies on various aspects of homeschooling and how successful homeschoolers are by several different measures. Usually homeschoolers are just the same if not better on a variety of different outcomes — Check out this review by Brian Ray (2010), and some of these other individual studies: Lower drug use | Sleep quality | College performance.

Don’t be an uneducated buffoon about this education choice! It worked well for this Gallo 🙂

 

graduation
Purposefully blurry for anti-stalking purposes!!

 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

NOTE: I don’t think you need to get a PhD to defend your family’s. Choice to homeschool. There is much more to becoming a successful adult who contributes meaningfully to society than your educational attainment. My point is that it’s unlikely to ruin a kid’s life, and just might free them to pursue different opportunities that will shape them for the better 🙂

 

 

 

 

The most annoying advice I’ve ever received

There was a long pause on the other line. Then my sister said, “Well Claire, if you don’t like something about your life… change it.”

If I didn’t love my sister so much, I would hate her. She had zero respect for my self-pity, and I was a bit put out at the time. But this advice drilled itself into my mind.

I get so upset and stressed about things in my life that I cannot control. I cannot fully control, for example, how much other people like me… or sometimes even when my own body turns against me and defiantly gains 8 lbs despite me working out more.*

So what can we actually change or control about our lives?

Well folks, I have found that I have a great degree of control over 1) who I hang out with 2) what environments I plant myself in and 3) how I act, talk, think (which ultimately, feeds back to influence how I feel!!!) about what happens in my life.

Some examples —

In the very recent past, I was getting frustrated that it seemed like the vast majority of my friends were not near as enthusiastic about hiking as I was. I wanted to go like, 1-2 times a weekend. After pouting for a while, I realized that instead of harassing my current circle of friends, I could take steps to expand my circle and actively seek out people who love to hike as much as I do. So I downloaded this app that let’s you join groups with people who have common interests in your area, and I’ve gone on several hikes with randos in the past few months. It has been super jolly meeting new people, and I no longer hate my hiking-unenthusiast friends!

I also recently had a falling out with someone. There were several contributing factors to our falling out, but one of them was that they didn’t seem to truly value me for who I was. I saw them the other day, and at first I felt almost sick with anger, bitterness, sadness — you know, the regular crew of bad feels. I thought of like 24 snarky comments, and I strategized different ways to artfully snub them with my body language. But then I was suddenly flooded with this thought — maybe from the Holy Spirit! — that was like “Is this really who you want to be?”** And I thought, Holy Toledo, no it is not. I saw them standing at a distance and I waved at them, and I could see their face flood with relief. Then we chatted for a while and it was fine. Are we going to be besties?  Probably not. Can I control how much they value me? Definitely not. But I can control whether or not I’m petty and hold on to every hurt and slight, or whether I keep the big pic in mind. This person is a Christian, and at the end of all days I truly believe we are going to be joined together with a huge group of diverse people celebrating God together. When I have that perspective, it is really difficult to hate them, or want to punish them for not valuing me as much as I think they should.

This is getting a little bogged down in my personal examples, but this is what I’m tryna say —

There’s a lot we can’t control — stop obsessing over that crap.

Recognize what you can control — and change that stuff when you can to make your life dramatically better.

When you’re struggling with how to act — think about the person you want to be. Our character is shaped by every little decision we make. So if being a petty, bitter, or frustrated person is in line with your life goals, by all means go for it. But if it’s not, then… don’t act in a way that is in line with being a petty, bitter, frustrated person!***

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Nerd confession: I kinda want to be Sydney Bristow 😬

That’s really it. I’m sorry that you all don’t have a sister as awesome as mine..  but that’s what this blog is for — so I can share my wise-sister privilege. 😀

 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —-

*All the explanations of I’ve read of age-related weight gain have to do with decreased muscle mass, which makes sense generally. It makes no sense specifically when you are in fact increasing your muscle mass yet still gaining weight. And I know what you’re thinking and no, not all of it is muscle. Do you know how much work it takes to even gain a few pounds of muscle? Like gallons of whey protein, working out 3 hours a day, and oh yeah, being a man. So  I reeaaallly doubt the 8ish pounds I’ve gained in the past 2 years are pure muscle. So take your positivity ELSEWHERE. 😉

**Honestly this question has been SO FRICKIN’ HELPFUL the past few months. If it doesn’t end up being too redundant, I will post an entire blog just about this.

***Not trying to be preachy, but I honestly don’t think this is possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. Seriously — it takes supernatural power for me to not be petty!!!