Staying in a relationship too long, picking the wrong man, and ignoring red flags are three of the most common relationship mistakes — and I’ve made them all! Here’s how to avoid repeating your past mistakes, plus tips for making new, better, healthier ones.
Because, let’s face it, we’ll never stop making mistakes. No matter how old, smart, and productive we get. But making new relationship mistakes is a sign of progress, isn’t it?
“I never make any mistakes in my love life,” said no one ever on How to Stop Past Mistakes From Ruining Your Relationship. “I’ve always been the healthiest, happiest, most well-adjusted person I know. And I always date men who are perfectly suited to me! I recognize red flags in relationships right away, and I’m quick to take the blame when I cause problems. And, above all, I can’t tell you exactly how to avoid repeating past relationship mistakes because I never make any!”
Go easy on yourself if you tend to make more relationship mistakes than the common garden slug. If you’re doing the best you can — loving truly, madly, deeply — then you’re doing the best you can.
How to Avoid Repeating Your Past Relationship Mistakes
If you can’t let go of the past — or if you feel stuck in grief and hopelessness — you might be refusing to re-evaluate your identity. You’re unwilling to let go of your plans and expectations, your hopes and dreams. You can’t accept your losses and you don’t want to admit that a new season of life has already begun.
If you can’t let go of the past, you’ll keep repeating your relationship mistakes.
1. Let go of the past
Yes, you made mistakes in your love life. Maybe you ignored all 10 warning signs of a bad relationship. Maybe you were the warning signs of a bad relationship, and you trod all over your boyfriend or husband! Maybe you cheated, lied, and stole from your ex. Maybe you don’t even want to stop repeating your past relationship mistakes because deep down you believe you’ll never heal from the abuse or pain you suffered as a child.
Have you let go of your past pain, grief, and loss? If you’re carrying your wounds around with you — all festering, open, and bleeding — then you’ll keep making the same relationship mistakes, over and over. Learn how to let go of the past.
2. Gain insight into your past mistakes
First, what mistakes did you make in your last few relationships? Were you late all the time, or you too passively accepting of your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband’s disrespect?
Did you blame him for all your relationship problems, or compare him to your dad? Maybe you gave him money for drugs, or stole his money for your own addiction.
Own up to your mistakes. Ask a trusted friend to help you figure out what you did wrong, and what you want to change. Tell her you’re learning how to avoid repeating your past relationship mistakes, and ask for advice. Ask her what mistakes she made, and what she’d do differently if she was in a new relationship.
3. Get emotionally healthy
What’s wrong with you? Seriously. What emotional or spiritual health problems are you struggling with? Maybe you have an eating disorder, or your heart is set on finding the relationship that will solve all your problems. Maybe you play mind games in relationships, trying to manipulate and control people. Maybe you criticize, condemn, and judge others so you don’t have to look at yourself.
We’re all emotionally unhealthy in different ways. The more aware you are of your struggles, the healthier you’ll become. It’s a paradox, I know, but it’s true. If you know you have a broken arm, for instance, then you know the first step to fixing it. See a broken arm specialist. And, if you know you have a broken heart, then you know the first step to unbreaking your heart: talk to a counselor or psychologist. She’ll help you avoid repeating your past relationship mistakes.
4. Get physically healthy
What’s your body saying to you right now? I bet you’re sitting down, and you’ve been sitting down for more than 20 minutes. Maybe you’ve been seated for three hours! What does your body need?
You may be wondering what your physical health has to do with not repeating the mistakes you made in your past relationships. Everything, I say! If your lungs, muscles, legs, arms, and internal organs aren’t healthy and oxygenated, then neither is your heart. You are a whole woman, and you need to pursue health on all levels: physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual, and professional.
5. Get professionally healthy
Where’s your life going? Why are you heading in that direction? Who told you to go that way? How long have you been pursuing that career, job, or degree? What do you really want to do with your life?
Are you fulfilled because you have a meaningful life that feeds your soul and spirit? If not, then don’t worry about finding tips on how to avoid repeating your past relationship mistakes. Instead, start finding meaning in your life. Fill the hole in your soul.
6. Set your heart on things above
You’re making the same mistakes in your relationship, over and over, because your heart is set on something unfulfilling. What is it? It could be finding the “The One” or your “soulmate” or the “perfect relationship.” None of those things exist. Your heart is searching for something to fill its emptiness, and you think it’s a relationship. But the truth is, even the healthiest relationship can’t fill the hole in your heart. Only God can.
How’s your relationship with Jesus? If you don’t know Him — or if you’ve drifted away — take time to re-introduce yourself. Actually, He’s been with you the whole time…it’s you who left Him. He is the only one who can fill the emptiness in your life, heart, and soul. Instead of trying to fix yourself, take time to reconnect with God. You’ll find more healing, strength, joy and power in 10 minutes with God than 10 years in a relationship with even the most perfect man.
What do you think? What have I missed? What’s your best tip on how to avoid repeating your past relationship mistakes? C’mon, you must have one. Be kind. Share it.
The Blossom Tip: Be kind and compassionate to yourself, even if you keep making the same relationship mistakes over and over. If you’re not doing the best you can, then now’s the time to start!
If you don’t think you can fix or change yourself, read How to Recreate Yourself When a Relationship Ends.
Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me!