- Breakups are a big life event and when you’re dealing with a big change, it can be natural to reflect back on the relationship or even the breakup itself.
- If you find that you’re dealing with some regrets, you’re not alone.
- There are a number of common regrets that you might have after a breakup, ranging from not putting in enough time or effort to not establishing boundaries.
Whether a breakup changed your daily interactions, your living situation, or what you thought your future might look like, it’s hard to get out of a relationship without some change to your life. Because they can cause such a change, you might start to think about how things would have worked out or could’ve worked out if you’d made different choices, done things differently.
You may have some regrets, which doesn’t feel great, but if you do, you’re hardly the only one who’s dealt with post-breakup regret.
There are a number of common regrets that you might have after a breakup, but the good news is that you can also move past them and on with your life.
You didn’t establish boundaries.
Establishing boundaries in any relationship is important, but sometimes can get overlooked. If you didn’t set up boundaries early on in your relationship, it could turn into a post-breakup regret.
“One thing that I hear about good relationships that end is that a lot of the problems they had could have been avoided,” Kevon Owen, M.S., LPC, a clinical psychotherapist and counselor, told INSIDER. “If they would have spoken up about things that were bothering them, they could have avoided it getting to the point of resenting the other person. They were fearful of upsetting the other person or being rejected. With this particular regret, I like to think about it as long term investing in the relationship. It may cost a little bit up front but over time the compound conflict that will be avoided is immeasurable. A relationship is best when you really know what the other person really likes and dislikes and who they really are. This is a live and learn kind of regret that calls for some reflection and awareness.”
Letting the other person know where you stand, what you want, what you don’t want, what you like, or what you don’t like or appreciate can help save you both a lot of heartaches later on.
You didn’t try hard enough in the relationship.
Whether you gave it your all in your relationship or not, after breaking up, you might start to think that maybe you didn’t and that if you had, you might still be together. It’s a common post-breakup regret.
“A relationship ending makes us become nostalgic and you tend to remember many of the good things you shared with your former partner,” Dr. Alisha Powell, Ph.D., LCSW, a couples counselor, told INSIDER.
You hung around too long and didn’t end things sooner.
On the flip side of things, feeling as though you didn’t end things soon enough and instead let the relationship linger, potentially even making things worse between the two of you, is another common regret that you might have after you break up with a partner. Relationship coach Sheila Darling, LMSW, told INSIDER that feeling as though you wasted that time hoping that the dynamic between the two of you would change and things would get better can certainly be a source of regret.
“Once out of the relationship, they are more open to support from friends and/or professionals who can help them gain insight into their own behaviour so they can look at the relationship in a different light,” Darling said. “Once a relationship has ended, it is easier to evaluate the time, energy, physical and financial commitment that was put into it and then decide if this is a healthy way to move into a future relationship.”
You let the relationship get too serious too quickly.
Owen said that if you “[allowed] the relationship to become way too serious and involved too fast,” that that is a common regret you might have after a breakup. Introducing them to family or close friends too early on, getting a dog early in your relationship, pooling your finances early on, and the like can all be things you live to regret after breaking up.
You didn’t take care of yourself while you were in your relationship, instead focusing on your relationship and the other person.
Taking care of yourself is important when you’re in a relationship. Overlooking what you need or want is something that you might regret later on.
“People tend to look at regrets as failures however every experience we have helps us with future experiences,” Darling said. “Setbacks such as a failed relationship help us to know just what we need and want in a future relationship and within ourselves.”
You let friendships and other relationships die away.
“Romantic relationships can sometimes take up enormous amounts of emotional energy. Sometimes our friends get left behind in the whirlwind,” Powell said. “You might find yourself regretting not reaching out more as your friends may have moved on with their lives without you.”
Whether your relationship lasts forever or not, at some point, you might regret shifting all of your attention away from other relationships. It can be especially difficult to deal with something like this right after a breakup when you might need your support system most of all.
You tried to make the relationship work instead of focusing on other things in your life that needed addressing.
Spending time trying to make your relationship work might not be a mistake, but if it ends in a breakup, you may find yourself regretting not spending time with your kids, focused on friendships, or doing other things that matter to you too, Darling said. It can feel like you missed out on things when you were focused on something that ultimately didn’t work out.
If you’re dealing with regrets after a breakup, there are things that you can do to move past them. “The first is to take personal responsibility for your role in the breakup and make a commitment to change things that you personally want to change,” Darling said. “Not to change for someone else or to please a partner, but for yourself because you want that personal growth.”
Breakups and other times of change can be really difficult, but if you’re dealing with regrets afterward, you don’t have to hold onto those forever.
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