The funny and frustrating thing about relationships is that it’s so dang easy to fall in love, or at least heart-pounding lust, with someone who makes no sense in your life for the long-term. So what is the point of all these near-misses? That’s something that’s usually much clearer in hindsight.
Read on as real women share the things they learned from dating men they knew they wouldn’t be spending the rest of their lives with.
I learned not to put myself last
“The only serious boyfriend I had before meeting my now-husband taught me one of the most valuable life lessons, which is not to constantly put a man (or anyone else for that matter) before myself. His slow grip on my emotions and psychotic, narcissistic behaviour turned me into a woman that I wasn’t proud of—a woman that I never meant to be. Before every single thing I did, I thought of him. What would he think? Would he be mad? Once we finally broke up and enough time went by that I was no longer feeling miserable and ‘heartbroken,’ I realized that in a good, healthy relationship, the other person doesn’t make you feel like you have to put yourself last. They fill you with enough confidence to know that you can go out and live your best life and that they’re along for the ride.” —Jenn, 27
I learned to live in the moment
“I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship when I met the guy who would henceforth be known as ‘my Latin lover.’ He had a completely different background than me (he was born in Chile, raised in Sweden, and studied in the U.S., whereas I was born and raised in the Midwest), and he was ambitious and adventurous, not to mention incredibly handsome. We had a lot of fun together, but I knew in my heart he wasn’t ‘the one.’ And from that fleeting romance (seven dates), I learned that it’s totally okay to just enjoy yourself in the present without thinking about what the end result will be, as long as you’re happy and not hurting others along the way.” —Allie, 27
Attraction isn’t everything
“I was close friends with someone with whom I had intense chemistry but couldn’t date because he happened to be in a long-term relationship the entire time. After their relationship ended, we started dating just weeks before I’d graduate college and move 3,000 miles away to New York. We tried to do long-distance, but both of us agreed it was too hard. I don’t regret it, because I needed to see what was there between us since the attraction had been so strong. Looking back, had I stayed in town, I know it still wouldn’t have worked out because we were and are just too different in terms of our personal life goals.” —Kourtney, 31
Cut your losses early
“It can be fun to get to know someone new, and their new perspective can help you broaden your own. But one thing I’ve learned (and still try to remind myself) after dating multiple guys I knew deep down weren’t ‘it’ is that time is of the essence. A few dates might not hurt, and may help you better determine what you really want, but a few months or, especially, years can set you back and distract from who it is you’re really looking for.” —Vanessa, 35
You can’t change people
“I dated someone for two years who was handsome, successful, charming, well-traveled, and well-educated. Of course, he was also emotionally unavailable, untrustworthy, and above everything else, not the kind-hearted person I deserved. I thought that if I could be perfect, if I could love him enough, if I could be his dream woman, he would change. But he didn’t, and as a result, I busted my own confidence and made myself feel less worthy. While people can change over time, fundamentally, you can’t be the one to make them. It took me a while to accept that it wasn’t me who wasn’t enough. It was his own thing.” —Lindsay, 28