11 Important Things I Learned From Past Relationships

Elle Scott


Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

I used to have a list of things I’d like in a partner and I can remember my friends and family making me feel like a crazy person. They felt like I shouldn’t stick to the list because I could miss out on a great person.

I stopped sticking firmly to my list and began dating “not my type” guys and I regret not sticking to my list. However, I can say that at least I gained a lot of different experiences from each person I met and I learned a lot about what I don’t want in a partner.

So that’s something.

Even with the weird and tragic times of dating, I wouldn’t change any of it because those experiences shaped who I am today.

Here are just a few things I learned from my previous relationships in no particular order.

Being honest is better than being nice

One of my flaws is that I’m too honest sometimes. I’ve tried softening my approach but sometimes people need to hear the truth as it stands.

I’ve learned that catering to your partner because you want to seem like a nice girlfriend isn’t healthy. It could also cause unwanted resentment from both sides.

If your partner wants you to do something you aren’t comfortable with, say no, and don’t adjust your stance on the matter.

Also, you should be comfortable enough in your relationship that you can be honest with your partner about anything. The last person I dated was the type of person I could say anything to and he wouldn’t get upset.

We could talk about anything, including politics, and it never ended in an argument. We respected who we were as individuals and enjoyed sharing our experiences.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to filter my conversation which felt wonderful. Honest communication is critical in a relationship.

If you can’t talk with the person you’re dating in an open and honest manner, dating them is pointless.

Every relationship has its own rules

I’ve learned that the way one couple handles their relationship doesn’t necessarily work for mine. Dating standards are different for everyone which is why it is best to date someone who’s compatible with your dating lifestyle.

People judge others all the time about how they choose to live their romantic lives but I say to each their own. There were times when I was completely open to an open relationship, and other times when I was fully ready to be exclusive.

To those outside of my relationships, they couldn’t understand. But that’s the point, I wasn’t dating the people outside of my relationship. Their logic didn’t matter.

However you choose to manage your relationship with your partner, the important factor is that both of you are comfortable. That’s it.

Keep your business to yourself

The whole Will and Jada situation earlier this year was disappointing.

My mom used to tell us all the time that “What goes on in this family, stays in this family”. I like to use that rule in my relationships as well. If there’s a problem, it isn’t for everyone to know.

The only people who should work on solving an issue within your relationship are you and your partner. What I found is that eliciting the advice of your friends or family will bring unwanted results.

Yes, at first the advice you get might be helpful. Over time, though, you’ll start to realize that some people feel as though they have a personal stake in your relationship.

They’ll start arbitrarily checking in to see what’s going on and will expect answers. No one needs to know what is going on in your relationship.

There's a fine line between having a simple girl talk to having a full on meeting about what you should and shouldn’t do with your partner.

If you find yourself unable to handle things within your relationship without bringing other people into the mix, it could be a sign that you aren’t ready to be in an adult relationship.

Looks are important but a person’s character is the most important

Being attracted to your partner is important but it’s isn’t the most essential part of picking a partner. You can look good on the outside but have a terrible attitude or be a terrible person overall, and that kills your good looks.

When choosing a partner try to go deeper than how they look. Observe how they treat others, how they conduct their business, how they treat you in general, before deciding they are perfect for you.

Once I went on a date with a guy who was rude to the waitstaff. His attitude was way over the top and I knew right then I wasn’t sticking around.

I couldn’t understand why someone would be rude to someone serving them food. It wasn't for me to understand; I just knew his looks weren't enough to justify his terrible behavior.

Don’t apologize for your preferences

Listen, I’ve dealt with people making fun of the things I like since I was a kid. I’ve allowed people to bully into dating the type of people they felt I should be with and it never worked for me.

I’ve noticed when you’re firm on your beliefs, goals, wants, etc...there will always be someone who comes in with the many reasons why you shouldn’t do what you want to do.

If I’m going to date someone they might as well be a person I like and I won’t apologize for it.

Race isn’t a basis for a relationship

The question shouldn’t be if he likes Black women. It should be whether or not he likes YOU.

This is a very race specific issue when it comes to dating. Blind dates would cause me so much anxiety cause I was always asking “If my date knew I was Black”. The mindset is really weird because now I don’t care.

I’ve also gone on a few dates with men who seemed like they were more interested with my skin tone than my conversation. Those were weird experiences but taught me what to look out for.

The most important thing I learned from meeting people like this is that I’m not pressed over whether he’ll like me regardless of my skin color. My only concern is that he’s a good guy who treats me with respect.

Boundaries must be respected

My first serious boyfriend was very clingy and I didn't like clingy at the time. I was living my life and he was just trying to live for me.

He’d come to my dorm and try to hang out and I was mostly like “Dude, I need to study”. I asked him repeatedly to give me space and he never did. He went as far as to get close with the guard at my dormitory so when I’d come home, he’d be waiting for me inside of my suite.

It was frustrating because he didn’t respect my boundaries at all.

There are boundaries which should be respected in relationships. Your partner will tell you what their boundaries are and you should do the same. If your partner doesn’t want you going through their phone, please resist the temptation.

The moment you or your partner cross the line and disrespect boundaries, your relationship is over.

Don’t be afraid to take chances

My childhood crush once said to me, “Who knows where we’d be if you had said something to me back then…”

He was absolutely correct but I was too afraid to approach him when I was younger cause he was like a God in my town. Fast forward to now and I realize that we are all humans.

A person can either reject me or not; neither option will kill me.

There will come a point in your life when you realize you only get this time to do what you want to do. There’s no use in being afraid of rejection because anything can happen.

Although, nothing will absolutely happen if you keep your mouth shut.

Don’t ignore flaring red flags

Guys who claim to be nice guys, aren’t usually nice at all.

Red flags could actually be minor personality flaws. To avoid throwing your partner to the wind before you really figure out if a red flag is a real red flag, observe them.

Better yet, discuss it with them.

You shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on a single act or incident. But, you can watch to see if that single act becomes a regular occurrence.

Of course there are warning signs which you shouldn’t ignore and usually you can distinguish between a glaring red flag and a minor hiccup.

Cheating is a dealbreaker

In the past, I’ve experienced an unfaithful partner. Yes, I’ve been cheated on and it hurts. The thing is my thoughts on what cheating is has sort of changed over the years.

It has played a part in how upset I am at finding out a partner has been unfaithful.

When my ex cheated with a few women, I tried to forgive him. We went through spiritual counseling and everything but in the end, I couldn’t forget what he’d done.

My trust was broken and the bond I felt with him was gone. This taught me that cheating is a relationship dealbreaker for me.

I’m not willing to go through a bunch of changes to work on the relationship after my partner has broken my trust and our bond.

If someone wants to leave, let them go

Your partner is not your possession. Sometimes the person we love most decides to leave, and that is hurtful. It’s hard to let them go but you shouldn’t try and force someone into your life.

Letting someone exit from your life could turn out to be the best thing for you. When a relationship ends, and after you get over the pain of it all, try to look back on what you’ve learned.

And make sure you don’t invite them back into your life.

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I write and share my opinions about lifestyle and relationships.


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