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They say a bad relationship can halt your entire life and I’ll be the first to admit—it does. Recently, I went through one of the most gut-wrenching break-ups to date, and it forever changed how I viewed myself and how I’ll approach the dating scene in the future.

Now, I’ll be perfectly honest, initially I placed all the blame on my past lover for our relationship’s demise. I thought he could’ve been more expressive of his emotions, more attentive of my needs and overall cared for me better until I realized that I was also one half of this duo and placing 100 percent of the blame on him only prolonged my healing process.

So I reluctantly put on my big girl pants, took inventory of my behaviors and came up with these tips I hope will guide you on your path to a happier fulfilling relationship.

You’re still carrying baggage from ex’s

One of the biggest killers of relationships is the failure to deal with past hurts from prior relationships. In theory it makes a lot of sense, but from experience, practicing it in real time is another story.

There I was denying the fact that I was saddened by being rejected from previous mates, whom I believed were my soul mates when in reality they were just not that into me.

It hurt. It hurts a whole heck of a lot, but that’s not the issue. What’s problematic is, not allowing myself space and time to deal with those negative emotions in a positive way. Instead, I suppressed them and eventually they later appeared as insecurities towards the next guy.

You have no real #relationshipgoals

Everyone’s got a meme that represents their so-called #relationshipgoals, but have you ever really stopped to ask yourself, “What are my real relationship goals and what do they look like?”

I didn’t and I’m going to take an educated guess and say most haven’t. When you’re not clear about what you expect from your partner, it’s easy to fall for situations that do not align with your core values.

Instead of daydreaming about your new boo looking like Usher, sit with yourself and create meaningful goals that you want for your next relationship that go below surface superficial things.

You don’t know how to communicate

How many of us are afraid to of actually telling our companions what’s really on our minds? How many times have you been upset about something and instead of opening up in an honest way, you rely on passive aggressive tactics, hoping he ‘just gets it?’

I can’t lie. This was my go-to form of communication for years. Instead of saying, “Hey that offended me and here’s why,” I completely stopped talking and figured it was his responsibility to know why and fix it.

On paper it sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I believed this is how women were supposed to communicate and it was a man’s job to understand.

Fast forward to today, I now realize that passive aggressiveness stemmed from a deeper feeling of fear of not being heard, fear of being accused of being crazy etc.

It’s not, and the sooner you learn to communicate effectively, which also includes listening, the sooner you’ll be on the path to a better relationship.