The Top Five Lessons I Learned from My Bad Relationships
1. If you are always unsure if he cares for you, there’s probably good reason to worry. Now I’m not talking to the women out there who are irrationally insecure. I’m talking to women with normal to above average self-esteem, who just never know what their men are thinking or feeling with regards to their relationship. Maybe he’s stoic, the strong, silent type, but one thing I learned is that if a man can’t ever express his feelings in words or deeds, then there’s a good chance he’s just not capable of the healthy give and take of successful relationships. It took one of my boyfriends three years to finally tell me he loved me. Of course this was only prompted by a break up, and his lonely, two week trip through the wilds of Alaska. Needless to say this relationship never got to commitment and it’s a good thing, as we surely would have ended up a divorce statistic.
2. If things aren’t good now, they are only going to get worse. Nothing else spells doom like hearing a friend say that her bad relationship is going to be ratcheted up a few notches with an engagement. Why is it we so often kid ourselves that pushing harder to make our already deficient connection with someone more serious will miraculously turn it into a positive bond? Pushing will not take your relationship into healthy territory—it will probably edge it off the side of a cliff. My protagonist Rebecca in Wedlocked and I both learned this hard way!
3. When you start losing sight of yourself, you are with the wrong person. I remember taking stock of my life after I’d broken off a five year relationship with a very controlling and emotionally closed off man. I could barely recognize myself. I had let him suck out the energy that made me who I am, and I suddenly felt so out of touch with the true Bonnie; It shook me to my core. How could I not see what was happening for all those years? Maybe because he had drained me slowly, the level of my individuality sinking at a rate that was barely noticeable, but eventually cumulative. I remedied this quickly, signing up for ballet lessons, volunteering on a political campaign, spending quality time with good friends and doing what I knew made Bonnie, Bonnie!
4. If you find yourself drifting away from good friends, something’s wrong. Now I’m happy to say I was smart enough and strong enough never to lose friends over any man, but I have seen both women and men turn their backs on the support system they’d once enjoyed because the “mate” in their life egged them to do just that—and not necessarily in an obvious way. When someone manipulates you into isolating yourself from supportive friends and family, it’s because they are threatened by them. If they are threatened by them, then they are extremely insecure and not able to sustain a healthy relationship. Take this as a definite sign that you need to disengage and move on!
5. If things aren’t right, then breaking up sooner rather than later is always in your best interest. It’s pretty common for people to keep deficient mates in their life way past the statute of limitations good sense has for a bad relationship. But ask yourself these questions: Is familiarity keeping you together? His empty promises? You’re idealistic dreams? Or maybe, just plain and simple fear of the unknown? If so, take hold of the reins and hurdle past your dead end affair—it may just open the door to Mr. Right!
Bonnie Trachtenberg worked as Senior Writer and Copy Chief at Book-of-the-Month Club and has written seven children’s book adaptations. She’s also written for three newspapers, and has penned countless magazine articles. Wedlocked is her first novel. She lives on Long Island with her husband, stepchildren, and cats.