Saving yourself from heartbreak is a nearly impossible task.
All of us will experience that sadness at some point or another. But how can we minimize our exposure to an aching heart? I think it comes down to being smart in love.
There was a time when I thought if two people loved each other, anything was possible. Maybe it was a lie Disney told me. Maybe it was just my own foolish idealism. But the truth I learned in my 2-year train wreck of a college relationship is this: sometimes love just isn't enough. There has to be more at play for a relationship to be successful.
Willingness to compromise.
Communication. Lots and lots of communication.
These are the ingredients that every successful relationship needs.
When I realized that sometimes love is not enough...
I dated a guy for almost two years on and off. We broke up maybe five times. Every time, somehow we would end up going back to each other for comfort – out of weakness, out of fear of being alone, out of insecurity, out of the desire to feel wanted and loved. I wasted so much time and energy on this relationship, and missed out on so much happiness, because I was wrapped up in something that was never going to work, no matter how hard we tried. We always came back to the same problems – because we just weren't right for each other.
Admit defeat when necessary
So how can you avoid falling into the same trap I did? Rule #1: Know when it's time to admit defeat. If you're in a relationship that's never going to work – if you're waiting around for someone to change, or you know your significant other doesn't "check all your boxes," – give it up. Don't wait. Just break it off. The sooner it's over, the sooner you can concentrate your emotional energy on YOU, and find someone who can actually make you happy.
Don't be afraid to be alone
That brings me to Rule #2: Never stay with someone just because you're afraid of being alone. Trust me when I say that it is a recipe for disaster. Relationships are the framework of our lives, and if they're wrong, nothing can be right. Settling for someone who isn't going to make you happy in the long run leads to wasted time, longterm regrets, and lots of unhappiness.
Know that you are important! You matter! And you DESERVE to find happiness with someone who loves you very much and can make you happy – someone who will be the right kind of partner. Someone who lifts you up and inspires you to be your best self. You'll never find that person if you don't take a chance and be alone for a while!
Use single time wisely
Being single is honestly the bomb. It's the perfect opportunity to be "selfish" – to concentrate on you, and recovering from your emotional scars, and getting involved in things you love. Travel. Follow your passions. Become so amazing and interesting that when you finally do meet the right person for you, they can't HELP but be enamored with you!
If you need more perspective on being single and all the awesome things it allows you to do, make sure to check out @EddiePozo's card Single with a lot of time?; @LizArnone's card Why It Doesn't Suck to Be Single in the Summer; and @jordanhamilton's 5 Reasons Why Being Single Isn't As Bad As It Sounds. They all inspired me to be proactive with my time as a single person, and delve deep into my passions before worrying about making room for anyone else in my life. :)
So how do you know when you're in a bad relationship? If you feel unloved, or like your partner wants to be with you only for the physical side of your relationship; if your partner doesn't make you feel respected and uplifted; if your partner doesn't challenge you to be your best self; if you're not being cherished or treasured; if you don't laugh together or have adventures together; if they hurt you more than they help you; heck, if they hurt you at all. These are the signs that you need to get out. Just because you love them is not a reason to stay.