Relationships: 4 Lessons Learned To Bring To The Next One

by Paul Goodchild on April 29, 2014

I’ve recently just come out the end of a relationship that I thought was pure beezer.

It had all the right ingredients… possibly the best that I’ve experienced to-date, though it was unfortunately short lived, and teetered out after a few months.

Now it’s time to work out where it all went wrong…

Good Ingredients; A Bad Mix

As I mentioned, the relationship had some really great things going for it. We had a similar sense of humour, our personalities were similar enough to be compatible, but different enough to make it interesting.

But the mix was wrong… and by mix I mean the environment and circumstances that preceded and pervaded it.

Unfortunately, it’s often the mixing that will make or break any decent pairing. The environment within which a relationship grows will typically either spur it on, nurture it until it stabilizes or, as in this case, will chip away at the foundations before it has the chance to mature.

There isn’t a lot that can be done to offset either of these, but in this case, it shone some light on lessons I can learn and areas I need to improve.

So what are my lessons to learn from all this?

There’s no point in going through a painful experience like this if I’m not going to learn at least 1 thing from it.

My previous relationship, which ended a year earlier, left me with more life lessons than I knew what to do with. But learn them I did, and I brought them forward into this one… and that’s why this time around I consider it a success in many ways.

Out of all my choices so far, this has been my best yet. I feel I achieved a nice balance in choosing well from the outset, and letting events run their natural course. I chose not to get stressed about things that would normally have bothered me – such as… looking too far into the future, stressing out, trying to predict what can and should happen.

But obviously I put a foot wrong here and there, and I’ve thought about what those missteps were. Talking with her directly about it also shed some light onto the person that I’ve become recently – or at least how I appear to be from the outside.

Lesson 1: improve my social image

Imagine you felt awkward bringing your date/partner to social events. Absolute fecking nightmare. I’ve dated someone like that, and I care never to repeat it.

A deal-breaker if ever there was one.

Well, it turns out this is the feeling I had been evoking in her. Yep, you heard it here first.

I’ve run this by a couple of people and they’ve all agreed if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s socially awkward. Introverted yes, but awkward?

So how did I get to that point?

The exact whys, wherefores and situations that caused this impression aren’t too important here, but basically the root cause comes down to language – while I can speak Spanish and communicate fairly well on a 1-to-1 basis, I can’t yet “do” groups.

And it’s stifling me and everything about who I am. I’ve realised just how much of an impact this is causing – if you can’t be yourself in your communication, then no-one sees who you are. So you ultimately appear incredibly superficial and distant.

Without a handle on Spanish, I can’t ever start making a social impact of any sort – it’s lead to a growing tendency to keep my mouth shut. If I don’t really understand what’s being discussed, and I can’t interject or contribute, I look like a recluse no zero social skills. So I’ll sit there… speechless for all intents and purpose, and tongue-tied when I’m addressed directly.

That’s a bit shite, and something that needs to be fixed.


  1. Bring my Spanish up to the required level, and/or
  2. Find more native English speakers and get back my mojo (and date only fluent-English speakers)

I don’t fancy the restrictions that come with the 2nd, but the 1st is also a tough climb.  So I’m going to need to shoot for both I think…

Lesson 2: rebound relationships aren’t just for Christmas

As much as you want to think a rebound will mature into a vibrant, healthy relationship, you’re probably wrong.

Sure, exceptions will be out there, they always are, but if you take a step back, identifying a rebound relationship is easy enough.

This might sound obvious, but it doesn’t matter how much you like the other person, it changes nothing. All that matters is why they’re into your shit in the first place.

Simply put: if they’re into you because you represent the opposite of the many things that the previous relationship had wrong with it, then time will ultimately tell.

It’s easy to ignore this… which leads me to the next lesson…

Lesson 3: Interpret and accept the warning signs sooner

This isn’t something I really need to fix here, but I can improve it for sure.

In this case I was able to recognise certain warning signs when they appeared and most times I jumped on them to fix them.

Win! All good then?

Not quite.

What I failed to do here was to fully accept what they meant. I thought that with time, they’ll right themselves and all will be fine.

But really, what I thought were warning signs weren’t so much warnings, but straight-up notices that the relationship wasn’t on a solid footing and probably wouldn’t actually make it to the next stage.

I hoped/assumed:

  • a rebound-relationship can mature into something beyond itself.
  • feelings of anxiety towards a relationship are more a product of mindset and definitions of what a relationship is, not of how the person feels about the other. If two people are on very different pages when a relationship starts, they’ll still be on those same (disparate) pages when the relationship inevitably ends. Time is not a healer in this case.
  • be cool; give space. These are important for any relationship, but they’re not meant for fixing problems and masking deeper relationship issues.

So the lesson to learn here is appreciate these extra warning signs for what they are, and while it doesn’t mean you should jack it all in once you recognise them, it hints, at least, to proceed with caution.

Lesson 4: keep an open mind, but don’t sell the farm

I didn’t let myself lose the plot here, and although lesson 3 perhaps makes it sound like I ignored the signs, I kept a decent hold of the reins.

I tried kept an open mind through-out, accepted as much as I could of the good and difficult, and this helped me handle the stresses or fears I’d normally have.

So this one is more like a lesson well-learned I’d say.

At the same time though, I could have done better. Early on I knew liked this girl a lot. I knew she was a keeper and I let my excitement grow. If you’re not at least a little bit infatuated with someone, I don’t think it’s quite right in the first place.

I even started telling friends and family about her. Something unheard of… but it was nice to do, and to share with friends about someone you like.  No harm.

That’s not to say what I did was wrong, but my excitement masked the reality a little. Next time, a pinch of salt.

My Point?

I’m not sure there is one. Except to say that as much as I’m sorry to see the relationship end, I’m happy for having it, and that I had the chance.

It’s clarified a few things for me, and highlighted areas for me to improve. It’s also given me impetus to change certain areas of my life, some of which has already started.

Now I’m curious to see what comes next 🙂

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