Reflecting back on my past dating experiences and relationships, I can confidently say with my chest raised up in the air that I’ve sure made a lot of mistakes. To be fair, I brought these mistakes upon myself by constantly giving love another shot. Label me a hopeless romantic, masochist or insane but I keep going back for more.
What can I say, I love learning and the best way to learn is from hands-on experience. Here are some love and relationship mistakes I’ve made in the past that I vow to never repeat:
1. Letting peer pressure affect my relationship decisions
I once began a relationship with someone I didn’t truly know or have feelings for, I have also lost a chance at a potentially great relationship — both due to peer pressure. As a naive teen at the time, I let peer pressure get the best of me and ended up living my life on other people’s terms and their image of whom they thought I was.
Ultimately, I let the opinions of the people who never cared about me negatively affect my relationships with the people who truly did. It’s crazy how strong an influence insignificant people around us can have when we fall into periods of weakness or insecurity.
The key to blocking out the noise is to always trust what’s deep in our hearts. When making relationship decisions, only we know what’s best for ourselves because no one else can feel what we feel. Therefore, my first vow is to never let peer pressure affect my relationship decision.
2. Not confessing my feelings when I have the chance
This is one of those things that is much easier said than done. We’ve probably all gone through (or we’re still going through) a period where we’re just too afraid or shy to tell someone that we’re attracted to them.
I’m not writing this expecting you to suddenly become this hyper-confident individual who can ask anyone out. But damn, looking back, my life could have taken a completely different route if I just took ten seconds out to tell that person I was interested in them.
My point is, you can completely change your life if you just take a couple of seconds to state how you feel.
If you get a positive response, your life may become better than ever. If you don’t, you will really only lose a couple seconds of your life and you’ll go back to doing what you were doing anyway. That’s why my second vow is to never miss my chance to shoot my shot.
3. Not setting boundaries
When we first start dating, we have very limited knowledge of what’s good, bad, normal, or appropriate. It takes a whole lot of experience to finally learn what we’re comfortable with and what we want. In my first serious relationship, I was doing a whole lot of stuff that I definitely did not want to do because I did not set my boundaries.
Essentially, whatever I experienced in that relationship became my baseline for what was considered normal because I had no prior experiences to draw upon. It was not until I started meeting many new people and dating a lot more afterward that I learned how skewed my perspective of a relationship was.
It is important to set boundaries, so your dates or partner have a clear understanding of what you’re comfortable and uncomfortable with and what you’re willing to do and not do.
Not only does this benefit you, but it also benefits whoever you’re with because they’ll have a better understanding of the dynamic of the relationship, which will help them manage their expectations. So my third vow is to clearly set my boundaries in my future relationship(s).
4. Neglecting friends after finding a relationship
Friends aren’t a means to an end. Their purpose isn’t to keep you company until you find a boyfriend or girlfriend. As a matter of fact, your friendships are just as valuable as your relationships, if not more.
I was never a person to keep a close group of friends, but relationships have definitely taught me how valuable friendships are. Your true friends serve as mentors who will guide and help you through your issues and are also the ones who will stick around when you’re facing loss or suffering from a mistake.
It is extremely important to continue networking and fostering friendships while you’re in a relationship and doing so will not only help you but your relationship as well.
I learned that one of the reasons why I acted so needy in my past relationships was because I had a habit of neglecting my friends when I found someone new to date. Therefore, I expected them to do the same for me which was a pretty big misstep.
Focusing all your attention on one person doesn’t make you sweet or attractive, it makes you needy which is the top trait that turns people off. Hence, my fourth vow is to continue fostering friendships no matter what my status in life is.
5. Losing my priorities
Believe it or not, there are things in life that are more important than loving another person. Remember, you have goals and dreams that you have been working towards for years before this person even exists to you. This is the part where being selfish is actually going to save your relationship.
As cold as it sounds, always take the opportunities that will advance your dreams over your relationship. Choosing your relationship over the dreams you’ve always had is how resentment is created. Make this decision a couple of times and you’ll eventually find yourself blaming your partner for all the failures you’re experiencing.
I’ve heard stories where entrepreneurs have abandoned their seven-figure businesses because they were so in love that they forgot anything else mattered. Of course, those relationships didn’t last. No one wants you to drop your goals for them as that would put them under immense pressure and is actually quite terrifying.
Luckily, I’ve never lost sight of my bigger goals and dreams in life due to a relationship but I’ve definitely made sacrifices that I shouldn’t have. Thus, my fifth vow is to never lose sight of my priorities in life.
We are all far from perfect. Especially when it comes to love, both you and I have made a whole lot of mistakes and will continue to make more as time goes on. Therefore, let’s not treat our mistakes as failures but rather learning experiences. Whether we experience a good or bad outcome, we are always growing.
As a result, we never truly start back at square one. When you do meet the person that you decide to spend the rest of your life with, it’s not going to be an isolated incident, but rather the result of all your past experiences.
“A mistake, an error, a poor choice, or bad decision does not equal “there is something wrong with me.” It means you are on your way to being better.” – Iyanla Vanzant