Thanks for breaking my heart
You know that special kind of person who sees a lesson in every trial and firmly believes that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

I am not one of those people.

I feel very deeply, and platitudes about “just being grateful” typically make me feel as if my struggle is being trivialized. Not to mention that the only time I can stomach the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is when it’s being belted out by Kelly Clarkson. This article is not meant as a “suck it up” piece, rather I want to sincerely show that no matter how painful an experience is, no matter how bitter the struggle, beauty will come out of it.

How did I learn these truths? By experiencing one of the most difficult universal experiences (multiple times!) and emerging, not only in one piece, but tougher, more mature, more loving, and with greater self-knowledge.

So if you, dear reader, have ever had your heart broken; crying every night and waking with puffy eyes and a throbbing heart, then this article is for you. We each have our own reactions and experiences, and mine will not be yours, but know this: There’s hope. You are going to make it through and be a better person for it. So read on!

Heaving my heart broken brought me self-awareness. I can look back now and see the ever-constant patterns in the guys I’m attracted to, the scenarios which might trigger growing affection, and what constitutes a healthy attitude towards those potential relationships. Having learned all those things, I am now capable of significantly reducing the heartbreak in my future. By being aware of the patterns I’m susceptible to, I can spot a growing crush from umpteen miles away and take the necessary steps to approach it in a healthy way.

For example, I have a tendency to fall for the loving, emotionally-available extrovert. The glaring pitfall to this is that said type of guy very often gives the impression of being interested when, in fact, he simply likes people. His friendly personality combined with my romanticism often ends up as me convincing myself that he’s constantly on the brink of declaring his undying love – yet he never does.

Since I became aware of this pattern, I have been able to come up with a successful “test” to slow myself down and look at the facts realistically rather than like a fairy tale. Whenever I meet a guy like this and I feel my heart starting to melt, I remind myself of all the happily married and dating guys I know with the same personality. It works like a charm when I realize that just because a guy gives me enthusiastic attention doesn’t mean he is the least bit romantically interested. Another excellent asset that has saved me from stumbling down the path of “Does he LIKE me???” is this website. It’s chock full of entertaining advice and familiar story lines. It’s a must-have on your blogroll!

Having my heart broken has allowed me to grow in love for others. When your own heart’s been through the wringer it just doesn’t feel right to let that happen to someone else. So you become more aware of how your words and actions affect others. In short, you intentionally bring more kindness into the world – and all because some guy wasn’t smart enough to see what was right in front of him.

Having my heart broken has brought me away from a childish mindset, and closer to a mature understanding of what love is. Emotions are an ingredient, not a foundation, for a relationship. Look, “the butterflies” happen. They’re fun. They’re good. But you can’t base a relationship on a woozy feeling, because emotions change, fluctuate, and grow.

Take a step back from the new-crush feelings – they can blind you to what’s actually there, rather than what you want to be there – and a relationship that isn’t grounded in reality is a fail safe way to get hurt. Recently I was head-over-heels for a guy. It was classic: Every love song made me think of him, I’d swoon whenever someone spoke his name, and I was convinced that we were meant to be together. In short, I was losing myself in feelings that (deep down) I knew were going to change.

Sure enough, as time went on, my view of our relationship began to shift: We disagreed hotly on many important issues, which made for excellent flirting but was a lousy foundation for a relationship. My chronic sarcasm hurt his feelings. He drank a lot. I had been vehemently telling myself for ten years that I would never even consider dating a guy who drank even moderately, and suddenly I found all of my standards caving because of a few butterflies. I needed to take action: I stopped watching 500 Days of Summer every other night, I made a list of reasons we were incompatible, and I started spending more time with platonic friends. It wasn’t easy. I almost felt like I was causing my own heartache this time since I was choosing to stay away from him – and then next thing I knew I was writing an article about how I got over him!

Trying to cram eight years’ worth of the most personal experiences of my life into a few corny lessons just doesn’t seem adequate enough to convey the deep truths which I’ve come to recognize about people and relationships. Am I going to be hurt again? Yes – I live in a world with other humans. Have I learned everything there is to learn? No! I never want to close myself off to growth of the heart. After all this I have a much clearer idea of what I need in a relationship, I understand myself better than I ever thought I could, and most importantly, I am beginning to see what I need to change and strengthen in order to be a better partner myself.

Have you ever learned a valuable life lesson from a broken heart? Share your story with us in the comments.
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