Sunday, May 20, 2012

Regret? We've had a few

Regret is insight that arrives a day too late. Love brings us great joy but can also be our biggest source of disappointment and regret. Almost everyone has some sort of regret from relationships past. There's the girl you were too scared to ask out in high school, the guy you wish you'd never accidentally cheated on and, of course, the one that got away.

Breakup is a traumatic life event. It scars your heart, mind and soul irreversibly. So if you're going to put yourself and your loved ones through it, it had better be damn worth it in the end. Women are more than twice as likely to harbor relationship regrets than men, because they tend to be more emotionally invested in their relationships. It seems that while some people can dwell for years on mistakes they made in past romances, others are happier to move onward and upward, leaving the past where it belongs, behind them.

But there's a big flip side to the world of relationship regrets. Asking around, I thought I'd hear a lot more about the elusive "One That Got Away". On the contrary, the most overwhelming response I received was "The One That Outstayed His/Her Welcome".

There are a lot of people who regret that they didn't end things sooner. Letting a toxic relationship fester past its use-by-date can be a form of self-harm. When wallowing in regret, we often swing between wondering if it's the things we did or the things we didn't do that caused the biggest problems. Whatever its flavor, regret can be a bitter pil to swallow. But it's the step that needs to be taken if we want to get to a place where we can be at peace with the decisions we've made. Whether the decision was dumb or came with unforeseen side-effects, it can't be changed. For one, you've probably learned a valuable lesson. For another, if you're smart about it, you won't make the same mistake in the future.

Regret, as long as you don't dwell and obsess about it, can be a healthy part of moving on. Once you've reflected on what you could've done better in that same situation, it's time to be thankful for the experience and turn to a brighter future, knowing you can only do better next time, armed with your new understanding about what will make your next relationship even better.