Breakups can force us to play all sorts of elaborate mind games with ourselves. We fixate on conflicting, dissonant ideas — like an ex's awful qualities and
all of the warm-and-fuzzy memories we had with that person. Sometimes it's easier to be bitter about a relationship; that way, you don't have to dwell on all the good times (even though you might still miss them). But, for better or worse, relationships teach us things. And there's often something positive to be gleaned from each one.
We take away more than nostalgia from our relationships. The lessons we learn from the people we date soon become real pillars of our personal relationship styles. "Past relationships can influence future ones because they set different kinds of expectations for you and change how you see your next one," notes social psychologist Gwen Seidman, PhD
. "If you were not treated well in the past, you want someone who treats you better, and if you were treated wonderfully, you want to retain that standard."
Even if it makes you cringe, the best thing you never had
contributes to the individual and partner you are today — and the individual and partner you will be tomorrow. So what happens when a group of women is asked to identify positive life lessons gleaned from their exes? It turns out that most people have at least one
worthwhile takeaway, even if it's just a better idea of what to steer clear of in future relationships.
Click through to read 10 women's stories about the best thing their exes taught them.