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When Every Relationship I’ve Ever Had Has Failed

Sometimes the best thoughts come when sharing a cold one with a friend. At least for me.

“Don’t you get it? Every relationship I’ve ever had has failed,” I said to my friend Kelsey Blue Eyes last week during a deeper discussion about life and dating and both of our struggles therein.

Eh, who am I kidding? We weren’t just talking. We were having a straight-up pity party. Don’t feel bad that you weren’t invited. The entire invite list consisted of me, Kelsey Blue Eyes, two blankets, a park, and a couple of cold ones.

I had good reasons to be feeling like that for the evening. I mean, the vast majority of you probably had no idea, but things were brutal in the parent blogging world for a couple weeks there. And in the heat of it all, more than a couple of my critics attempted to discredit me by pointing out that I can’t seem to keep a relationship, therefore I must be a real schmuck.

I had a lot to think about with everything going on; this was just one thing on the list. And what bothered me was that they were right, at least about one thing. Every relationship I’ve had has eventually failed.

And that left me to ponder… What is wrong with me? Why is that my reality?

Thankfully, Utah’s crazy liquor laws gave me just enough alcohol in my beer to think straight and not enough to think stupidly. And I realized one great and comforting truth.

Everybody who is single has also had every relationship fail in the past.

Everybody.

Every relationship.

With the exception maybe of widows and nuns.

Once I realized that, I had to laugh at what a silly method of measurement such a thing is for the worth of an individual. The only difference between somebody who is in a relationship that’s working and somebody who is single is that those in a working relationship succeeded in one relationship.

Just one.

With the exception maybe of happily remarried widows and nuns on the down low.

And those one single relationships that my non-single counterparts succeeded in almost always came after a lot of failed ones.

Which means… there aren’t a lot of relationship experts out there.

So next time you’re out drinking a (hopefully stronger) beer, laying on blankets, talking to one of your best friends about how bad you must suck cause every relationship you’ve ever had has failed…

Just remember.

The same is true for me. And for billions of other people.

And all it means is that love is hard and finding the one person that it’ll work with is sometimes a very long and heart-mincing process.

Some people just get lucky sooner than others.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. Have you ever felt like something was really wrong with you because of failed or struggling relationships? If so, what are your thoughts on this post today?

158 comments
SeanHenderson
SeanHenderson

My mother has been widowed 3 times and is currently in a relationship, but even though by this line of reasoning she is one of the few people on the planet who can claim 4 successful relationships I don't think anyone who really knows her would consider her an expert on relationships.

ajoyamoca
ajoyamoca

I absolutely felt I was genetically flawed at some level in some respect and unable to comprehend the complex nature of a relationship any relationships and now I'm starting to think I can't even maintain a friendship.


One day someone asked me, "Have you ever been in love?" I thought at least a few times I had. I think they were more infatuation and maybe some OCD thrown in for good measure. Then I felt like, No, just about every relationship I started out in was really good and then as things evolved, it just became either toxic or unsustainable. 


The funny part was that I knew what my problem was. I knew exactly why I was attracted to the types of people I met and it was always, or nearly always the same type. Getting it out, talking it over, making a list, reevaluation of the list, behavior changing, getting clear with the universe, all of that didn't seem to make any difference. And now I don't trust my judgement. I can't change anyone or anything. I met a guy. Talked to him for over two years. We got along great. I finally met him. Things didn't go as well as expected. We kept in touch. Then the games started. He'd call, act irritated that I wasn't there. I'd call and he'd insult me. Other little things. Finally he said that I was blocking his number and that I didn't want to talk to him anymore. Wow. 


What can a person say to that kind of direct accusation?


Of course rationalization doesn't help.  So I said, "Look, if you just want to take a break for a while, I understand." I'm good with that.Not a word said, no answer.Just nothing. That's the hardest to take. And this, this was someone who as long as I listened to him, he had time. As long as I was encouraging him and focused on his needs, I had a place. But as soon as I said, "Hey, I'm not your therapist! I'm your friend." He shut down. And this was a friend who I spoke with daily for a solid two or three years!


So, yeah. I get it. I don't know what's wrong with me. Too needy maybe? Showing too much interest? Not enough interest?  Oh, btw, I"m soon to be 47, divorced, one kid.(pretty secure in all other ways except this one)

BevHusband
BevHusband

nearly all my relationships have been abusive . this last one wasnt like the rest  i have suffered domestic violence  no my ex was more subtle  the put downs and verbal abuse came on slowly  things like  if i asked who text him it wold be  your a bitch a jealous bitch . or he would say things like yor useless, you think your better than me, your like an obediant dog,etc  trying to remember half of the insults he would say or if i was ill or upset he would get angry  he never kissed me or showed much effection he wold belittle me in public thinking he was funny he wasnt it was insults or offensive  although infront of friends  he was different  lovely and sweet  he would quickly turn anything to be my fault or turn things round to make others feel sorry for him i let it all go because i loved him  although i cant understand i loved him . its like im a magnet for abusive types  when all i want is normal  loving relationship it never happens   my ex says its me and im vindictive  im not  friends who know me know what i am like my confidence self esteem not to mention trust has gone 

Maralisa
Maralisa

I am nearly 60 years old.  I have three failed marriages under my belt.  The first two were obvious disasters waiting to happen, but even so, I was able to forgive myself for them.   

The third lasted nearly 15 years and devastated me when it ended.  However, when I look back over my life, with the exception of my first marriage, every single relationship I've ever entered into included abuse.

I am painfully aware of what this says about me. Running into relationships looking for wholeness is not the answer to my emotional brokenness.  

If you were to meet me you would likely find me as many people do: intelligent, funny, articulate, educated, competent.  Yet, I'm an absolute and complete disaster when it comes to intimacy with people.  

But, it is something that I must take responsibility for and I know it. I just can't rationalize it.  I clearly have issues and in order to live the rest of my life in peace, I have to come to terms with this. 



MelissaSines
MelissaSines

You make really great points. Personally I've had to do some really hard self evaluation of late.....why do I wait so long to admit to myself that I'm not the root cause of their problem...and why didn't I listen to my initial impressions? Chemistry and similar beliefs help, but I'm finding out too late that you don't have to try to make it fit/work....If you have to devote everything and all your energy to it.....it's really not going to be worth it. Don't get me wrong, obviously all relationships take work and maintenance....but they aren't worth draining yourself completely for.  Thanks for having the courage to put yourself or there for the rest of us to read...I'm new to your blog, but have enjoyed the thought provoking posts.

Jen
Jen

I just googled this question because I was feeling really really down. Thank you for posting this it really helped me I never thought of it that way, mean while most of my friends are getting married and or having babies but honestly half of those people don't seem happy either. So now I'm ready to wait. But hopefully not to much longer!


Tonja
Tonja

Dude, you nailed it! I've been single my whole life (nearly married once, unable-to-count-anymore failed relationships), so I totally feel you! Thanks for your insight, definitely helps put things in perspective.

Melvin
Melvin

this reminds me of another blog i read called Matt Hates Dating. He's a guy who wants to get married and have a family but can't find a successful relationship and is now exploring his past relationships to see what is wrong with HIM. You guys are witty and interesting, I'll say that. 

whoislovingyou1
whoislovingyou1

If you have chemistry and the same values you can always make it compatible it's when we start to expect or change them that it goes wrong. There is a secret to making it work and I learnt the hard way!

Tiffani
Tiffani

It's certainly a matter of finding the right person too.  I believe the whole point of a relationship is to find out if a particular person is compatible with you and whether or not the two of you could work well together in marriage. Perhaps multiple failed relationships just means you haven't found the right one yet, and I mean, this world is so diverse with so many different people who bring their own personalities, perspectives, values, beliefs, and backgrounds to a relationship that it's no wonder people often go through so many relationships before they get married!

whoislovingyou1
whoislovingyou1

It is not about being a failure it's about learning whether you may be stuck in cycles of attracting the same situations because it will come from somewhere it like anything in life, we need to dig deeper to find the answer. There are so Many relationship therapists out there but it's important to not parrot mimic people and take each individual person as their unique selves & find the pattern. It's finding those that work for you.it's a shame most relationships these days fail before they've even tried to discover the root problem and it's usually habitual past events that we may conciously not be aware of! Regards, Louise

Sheila Allen Neergaard
Sheila Allen Neergaard

"Jen Gula No lie, I asked a friend this over the weekend, "What is it about me that brings out the worst in them? (meaning my most recent ex and my current boyfriend) Obviously I must be all those terrible things they say about me, otherwise they would treat me better " Jen! NO! People will treat you how you expect to be treated. Do NOT let any man say bad things about you! Why would you unless you think they have a right to? They do NOT! Your "current boyfriend" is NO friend if he's saying bad things to and about you. You wouldn't allow a real friend to treat you that way, would you? A boyfriend is a friend with benefits..he deserves no benefits if he is NOT a true friend! Send him packing right now. A warm body is not an acceptable reason to take abuse..get a cat!

Jess Provencio
Jess Provencio

I have to say, this was already on my mind lately after a recent breakup. If the single same factor in all my past relationships is me, what's wrong with me.... that's been my attitude, and its hard to get over feeling like that. But its true, there are few people I know who got it right the first time.

Janine Montgomery
Janine Montgomery

Id rather be loved for who I am than loathed for who I am not.

Janine Montgomery
Janine Montgomery

My thought on this was either I was too stupid young and didnt realize that grass is yellow on the other side unless you water it and care for it. Along with people can be very "pretty little liars" about who they are and their past. Like I heard everything that sinks will rise sooner or later. Ive decided life is too short for dealing with emotional baggage that comes from Jekels and Hydes. So live my life as I want Not to live liFe how others want me too

ChristinePlattDonaubauer
ChristinePlattDonaubauer

I hate that people are so judgemental, especially in parenting in relationships. Unless you personally witness someone beating the crap out of their partner or kid, quit making assumptions. 

 

That said, I married my husband at 32 years old. We were together for 7 years on our wedding day, and we never would have made it if things hadn't gone the way they did. However, I lived through a few years of refusing to get up as one of the 'single girls' at the wedding to catch the bouquet, (we did no throwing at our wedding... ) and hearing people pressure us to get married. "Why won't he pull the trigger?" 

 

From the outside, it would have appeared that he was taking his time, and perhaps he was, but more than that, I wasn't ready to commit. As much as I wanted the white dress and wedding while I was in my twenties, I was not ready to trust someone else. 

 

Now, up until then, I was engaged once and had discussed marriage a number of times with previous men.... and usually when they brought it up I bailed. But the blame always lays with the man doesn't it? Unless I was a money grubber or got some other material or tangible benefit from the relationship, I couldn't be at fault. I was a pretty hard person for a long time until I found the right one.

 

My point is, nobody knows the true story, and they make so many unfair assumptions. Let them stay miserable. The more people judge, the more they are trying to override the insecurities that they themselves feel. 

WesternLizard
WesternLizard

We place such a high value on finding "the one" early in life that it's hard not to wonder what's wrong with us when we don't. Sometimes I have to look at couples who have been together for many years, and haven't been happy for most of that time, to realize that sometimes the advertising is better than the reality. Every relationship that I've had has taught me more about life and myself, and while the lessons haven't always been easy, they have made me a better person.

Jenny Golfin
Jenny Golfin

Bottom line - there's nothing wrong with us...

Jenny Golfin
Jenny Golfin

I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me, like what did I do and how can I stop doing it. BUT then I realized there is nothing wrong with me and that the person just wasn't the right one. Of course, being divorced, I've also realized that you can think someone is the right one when they really aren't but you just ignore that because you want the relationship more than you want your self.

Tanya Manthe
Tanya Manthe

Richard Deane Zumbaugh: you took the words out of my mouth. Couldn't agree more with your sentiments.

Misty Turner
Misty Turner

I learned something from every relationship I've ever been in. For that fact alone none of my relationships were failures..

Shauna Redmond-Shourds
Shauna Redmond-Shourds

Should I be the one to point out that every single person has had every relationship they have ever had fail?? Its like saying the thing you loose is always in the last place you look. Why would you keep looking after you found it?

Daniel Burgess
Daniel Burgess

First I want to say that there truly are happy ever afters! Richard Z. Put it very well, there are if I might add a few more aspects. Learning to love and accepting love, real love. Not this hogwash, manipulative, selfish love that is often mistaken for love. A love without expectation, and full acceptance. One that allows and encourages full disclosure without judgement. After being divorced I thought it was me, I thought I would never fine love, I thought real happiness was not possible. Even good friends told me that was a fair tale. Even after meeting my best friend and now companion, my wife and I are sometimes still told that our JOY will wear off. It has not. In fact our friendship has grown even deeper and we are more madly in love now then ever before. This is our storybook story: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Our-Story-Book-Story-A-Julie-Dan-Wedding/175834392497878

rmkoth
rmkoth

I didn't find my one true love until I was 50.  My prior marriage produced two beautiful daughters that I would not have given up for the world, his brought two sons.  Every thing has it's time and place, sometimes we have to play our part in fate before we can have that "successful" relationship.  Don't stop looking.

Jessica Campbell
Jessica Campbell

I don't believe in failed relationships. Everything you go through leads you to where you are now. And I don't believe relationships should be hard. A true, loving, made by God relationship is the easiest thing in the world. My husband and myself were made for each other. It is the most comfortable, content and easiest relationship I have ever been in and it will be the last one I'm ever in. If you have to work and fight everyday to stay in a relationship with someone, then its not the right one. But you learn and grow and hopefully take something good away from it to put to food use with the next one.

Vicci Halsey
Vicci Halsey

Why does your post keep closing??? Something I should learn, maybe...

RyanCarter1
RyanCarter1

No relationship is a failure. We all get something out of it, even if requires everyone going their separate ways. You might not be in a relationship with the ideal girl right now, but so what? You have many other great relationships with many other people. Not to mention the great relationship that you have with your fan base. I have been happily single for over 2 years now. This has allowed me to have the greatest relationship of all.

Courtney Amos McReynolds
Courtney Amos McReynolds

this was a gutsy post. i can't go into my thoughts on this one for personal reasons, but i'm betting a lot of people will find your words encouraging today.

kyky26
kyky26

It makes it a lot easier to handle being single when you put it in those terms and think of it that way. Its been two years since my husband told me he didnt want to be with me anymore... And in those two years i have never (not once) been asked out on a second date. After so many times of that its hard to not feel completely worthless. I hope there is the right someone out there for me and maybe one day we can make it work together. Thanks for writing this post... Needed to hear it tonight.

KelliNicoleMcClain
KelliNicoleMcClain

It's like you read my mind, Dan, I was just thinking of this as I was driving back to Dallas.  What is wrong with me that I'm single?  And you are right, every one has had relationships fail,  EVERYONE.  Some just find someone to be with sooner than others.  You keep trying and so will I.

Paul Willis
Paul Willis

Hard words, but they have such a ring of truth and clarity... very relevant for the past few years up to now for me. Thanks . :)

Cheryl Trusler
Cheryl Trusler

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I really thought it was just me...

SunnyJane
SunnyJane

Single does not equal failed relationships.  It simply means that the relationship has completed its purpose and now it's time to move on... 

laughingmom
laughingmom

I hear this line a lot, and everyone seems to have a different list of reasons, both made up and realistic, about why all their relationships have "failed."  "Failed" is not the same thing as "ended" or "changed."  All things end and all things change.  All relationships, romantic or otherwise.  You break up, you drift apart, someone dies.  That doesn't make it a failure.  Nothing is so black and white as that.  If you're learning anything, gaining anything in a relationship, there is at least that much success.

Natasha Davis
Natasha Davis

I had a phase where every boyfriend who broke up with me, married the next girl he dated - very depressing!!!

iameverywhere
iameverywhere

It sounds to me that there are SOME relationships which did not work out, but there are OTHERS which have succeeded.  I've always believed it takes a special person to be  a parent and in that respect you've done well hands-down.  I'm aware of two marriages and divorces.  Is it possible it was them rather than you?  As a subscriber to your blog, it definitely seems you've got lots of friends and many who love you.  I caution you to not take everything others tell you as truth as what they say is opinion, which is subjective and therefore full of emotional and perhaps misleading content.  I wish you and I could meet because I consider you a friend.  I'm quite certain you're busy but if you'd ever like to Skype I'm into it.

Elspeth
Elspeth

Wow, your post came at a perfect time. I just ended a one year relationship on Friday, and I've been struggling with feelings about my self worth, concerns about my future, and all the other typical feelings that come after a relationship ends. Seeing this is so reassuring. Thank you again.

Ida Pearce
Ida Pearce

i've so felt this way... wait... still feel this way

CarolBall
CarolBall

Love it! And yes, Utah liquor laws are crazy! Recently single for the first time since 18, glad to be rid of the abusive ex, but I don't enjoy being single. I've started dating again, not sure I like that either. I don't trust easily, I have walls up to protect myself, I don't trust that anyone will love ME, EVER. I'm broken, I'm scarred, I'm scared to love again because love doesn't work out for me. I'm trying to be better about these things, because I do want to be loved, I want to love again. Being single, especially in Utah, in your 30's is not the most awesome experience I've ever had.

LyndraHearnAntonson
LyndraHearnAntonson

Hi Dan and Everyone,

 

For decades I wondered what was wrong with me?! I was successful in every area of my life except love. My process of finding true love at last (I got married for the first time at 48 in 2004) involved: learning to love myself, looking at how I was unavailable and therefore kept attracting unavailable men, letting go of my limiting beliefs and fears, creating a life that I absolutely loved by myself, knowing that my man was going to have to be pretty special to add to my already delicious life, listening to my intuition, etc.

 

I'm a former psychotherapist and current love relationship and life coach. Helping people have healthy love relationships is my life's purpose. Dan, I've written some articles on having great love relationships that you might find helpful, especially “The Inside-Out Approach to Finding Love” and “Loving Yourself is the Foundation for a Great Relationship and Life.” You can access them at: http://www.loverelationshipcoach.com/lyndras-love-letter-newsletter-archives.

 

Warm wishes to you and everyone longing for love!

lovindmutts
lovindmutts

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I recently broke up with my guy, and while I've had many happy relationships/friendships with people of both sexes, all his guy friends are his brothers.. and he's had a grand total of one girlfriend (me). He is confident that because of this, I know nothing about relationships, that I have serious issues to work through before I'm ready for a "relationship."

 

I wanted to tell him he's a 'tard for thinking that.. but you've said it much more wonderfully. I will be sending him this post... and again, thank you!

Thyra Beiskaldi
Thyra Beiskaldi

Dear SDL: Please consider that the issue may not be the relationships at all, but your definition and/or interpretation of the word 'failure'. There is an assumption in our modern western society that romantic relationships are meant to last 'happily ever after', and that if they don't, then somehow we have failed. What if this simply were not so? I read somewhere long ago that people come and go in our lives, some just stay longer than others. Are romantic relationships not the same way? We spend a lot of time dating in hopes of finding the 'right one', and it is assumed that we have to date a number of people to find that 'right one'. Maybe that is an illusion. Maybe those 'failed' relationships were the right ones at the time, and even successful, and not failures at all. Your first serious girlfriend, who taught you a lot about being in a relationship--was that learning really a failure? The relationship that brought you your beloved son--sure, the relationship ended, or more specifically changed drastically from a romantic one to something else, but with all it gave you, can you really say that it was a failure? They all have one thing in common: you. Who you are today was shaped by them. Not a failure at all, in my opinion.

JudyLeeThurber
JudyLeeThurber

A very wise man once told me, "Never try to direct the course of Love. When Love finds you worthy, it will direct your course."

Liz
Liz

Dear Bev,

First of all you have to learn to trust yourself. I used to draw sarcastic, verbally abusive and belittling partners, and I had to figure out why. There's always at least one reason why we pick those partners. Maybe we were taught very young that what we needed or wanted didn't matter. So that we look for that pattern in our relationships because it feels familiar. There is an excellent book that a mental health professional recommended to me, that helped me change my patterns. By Dr. Patricia Evans, it is called The Verbally Abusive Relationship, and it describes the patterns. People have STUDIED this, it's actually really common, and you are not alone.

crystalbay
crystalbay

@MaralisaI'm going on 70 with two failed marriages, 3 kids, and 12 grand kids.  I divorced at 60 and immediately went looking for a man.  I made every mistake I possibly could and treasure each one of them because ultimately, I discovered the most amusing, exasperating, engaging, loveable room mate in the world: ME!  Your issues sound like the need to re-create some childhood wounding in order to try to master the painful past.  For example, having an abusive parent leads directly to being attracted to an abusive partner.  People do this all the time, unconsciously attempting to heal ancient wounds.  Sadly, this will NEVER work.  The only way out of self-destructive patterns is good therapy in which the original wounding is resolved and healed for good.  Only then, will you be attracted to a healthy guy.  By the way, I've been a therapist for 30 years and did years of my own work.

Good luck to you - there is plenty of hope but probably not without some professional help.