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Heartbreak Essential to Find “The One”

Posted by spritzophrenia on January 28, 2011

Continuing our lively discussion on divorce and marriage, maybe having a “failed” marriage or relationship can actually help us in our romantic life?

Previous heartbreak is an essential factor in finding “the one”, a US psychologist says.

Despite the pain of heartbreak, those who have had a previous long-term relationship were at an advantage in the dating world, Dr Gian Gonzaga says.

“Think about all of the things that you do in life where you get better with practice, and a lot of times people don’t believe that about relationships,” Dr Gonzaga told AAP on Thursday.

“They feel like once they’ve been in a relationship that’s unsuccessful, they have failed.

“They feel like they’re not worthy of love, so they may treat people in a different way that makes it harder to have a better long term-relationship the second time around.”

But instead of acting out, the broken-hearted should take a big-picture view of their former long term relationship and learn from it, said Dr Gonzaga, who has [edited] a book on the subject of second-time love.


People should think about what factors contributed to the earlier relationship, both positive and negative, and what they should change for next time.

“Also take a look at your former partner and think about what was it that they were missing, or you needed to have in a partner that you didn’t know.”

Dr Gonzaga also advised looking at the relationship in context and considering all the external factors that contributed to the breakdown.

It really is about using the knowledge that you have be better, smarter at picking out the right partner and doing the right things in relationships,” he said.

“It’s not that people don’t realise this – a lot of people take a lot of individual lessons, but very few people put all of them together.”

He said while many people find looking for new love a daunting task, they shouldn’t lose heart.

~ from here. His book is, Dating the Second Time Around: Finding Love That Lasts.

I certainly feel I’ve become a better person, and a better love-mate after many years of “failure”. Then again, as we were saying in my last post, is the whole concept of “the one” flawed?

Note: I believe everyone should be able to love and marry who they wish, so contributions from my queer friends are welcome. Also, feel free to substitute “long term relationship”, or something else if the marriage concept bugs you.


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13 Responses to “Heartbreak Essential to Find “The One””

  1. Cristine said

    great article! I don’t believe in “the one” though. Or perhaps I think the opposite, that when you are in a good relationship with someone they are “the one” for that time in your life but just because the relationship ends doesn’t mean it was wrong or you chose the wrong person. It simply ran it’s course. But this idea that there is “one” out there somewhere for all of us that we can be with forever…..nope! not a believer

    • So you’re not looking for Mr Right, you’re looking for Mr Right Now 😉

      Sorry, couldn’t resist. And thanks 🙂

    • Iain said

      I also don’t believe in “the One”. The idea of one magical soulmate existing only to be with me seems like an unhelpful, idealistic and romanticised version of … romance. I mean, there doesn’t seem to be any possible mechanism for that to be possible. We are little social meat machines wandering around trying to do our best in life. Some people will make compatible partners while others won’t. Some relationships will require more work to maintain and others will require less. If somebody gets it into their head that their current partner is “the One”, that might make them be less attentive to the warning signs of problems that require actual hard work and effort. I think that the concept of a fatalistic and perfect life-partner could make a person take that partner for granted. Love, like the rest of life, deserves more attention than that.

      • SugarPop said

        Hi Iain 🙂 Hi Cristine 🙂

        I’m with you on the concept of “the One”, although that hasn’t always been my position.

        When I was younger (teens / early 20s) I was completely convinced that The One was a very real phenomenon. Probably feed by my innate idealism and optimism. I let go of that idea after I left my marriage. The other *ideal* I’ve let go of is that “love conquers all” – in my experience on its own it does not. Love requires much more from us as individuals and couples or whatever other configuration we might chose to be sustainable and sustaining.

        I have had my heart broken, and broken, and broken. I have never considered any of my past relationships and heart breaks failures – mostly thanks to a man I met on the train one evening on my commute back to Worcerster from Birmingham, UK. I was still reeling from leaving my marriage and he very helpfully mentioned that my choice to leave took a great deal of courage and that it didn’t mean failure – in fact it might have been the most loving thing I could have done for both my husband and myself. It was at that point that I stopped beating myself up about the whole sorry situation, and began to ask more helpful questions of myself.

        The relationships I’ve had since then have all helped me grow – and I have seen my various ex’s go on to have happier and better relationships themselves with other people. I’m very happy about that – and I personally acknowledge my contribution to their ultimate happiness, which they may never have reached had they remained with me.

        For myself, I still struggle with relationships. I’m with someone I love very much and I’m happier now than I have been for a very long time. Although for the most part I have learnt from my past and am continually working hard to apply what I’ve learned positively in my current relationship, I have also been (almost) irrevokably damaged by some of my historical experiences. I’m now learning to recognise when the scar tissue in my heart is calling out for me to remember my past joys and sorrows, and to honour them by always communicating gently, openly and honestly with my loved one – even if it means that I risk losing the relationship altogether. Few things are more damaging to a relationship than with-holding pieces of yourself and the truth – both will ultimately out.

        And that’s probably enough from me on the matter 🙂

        Jonathan – this post also reminds of the comments on your previous post related to how our way of being in the working world has become a lot more dynamic and changeable. To me the article you have referenced echoes the same sentiments.

        • Cristine said

          Hi Iain, Hi Sugar Pop 🙂

          I completely agree..and I don’t think it is cynical..I think it is freeing. I also can not stand that “love conquers all” crap. It absolutely does not. Two people can love each other dearly but have such different lifestyles, goals, or ideals that they are completely incompatible.

          Jonathan knows allll about my relationship with an Aussie. We loved each other fiercely but I live here (In the USA) I couldn’t move there because of my two children and he can’t move here (for many reasons, one being he has a rare blood disease that would make a cold climate not possible for him but also several others reasons) I know it all sounds like a bad movie and obviously there is so much more to it but to say that love finds a way for people to be together because they love each other badly enough is not realistic…understatement. And whenever I hear someone say “love conquers all” it reminds me of that situation and I have to restrain myself from smacking the person who said it 🙂

  2. Iain said

    Totally agree!

    Now, I must first offer the honest truth that I have never been *married*. I’ve had two relationships that each managed to break up after one year (I wonder whether the whole One-Year-Anniversary idea made them take stock of the situation?).

    I absolutely feel that those failures both made me know how I need to change AND helped me to identify what I am looking for in a partner. Both were unhealthy relationships in certain ways, although I also appreciated much about the experience. I think I’m a better person having been through the relationship and the “failure”.

  3. Great post, Jonathan. I agree with the commentors above: the concept of “the ONE” is not realistic. However I would go a step further and say that it actually SABOTAGES relationships.

    Here’s why. When a person chooses to label someone else “the ONE” that puts a tremendous amount of pressure upon “the ONE” to live up to the expectations of the person they are in a relationship with. It’s rather like putting the title, “Best Cook in the World,” on someone who makes really good pancakes and chocolate chip cookies. The Pancake-&-Cookie-Maker now feels the burden to live up to the title he or she’s been given. They feel the other person “needs” them to live up to the title by cooking better than anyone in the world. They might even feel the other person’s love is dependent upon them living up to their title.

    Something else happens when a person calls another person “the ONE.” They have an image of who and what “the ONE” and once they decide that this person right here is “the ONE” they’ve been looking/waiting for, they will set about denying or shaming the things about “the ONE” that “the ONE” (in their head) is “supposed to” be and have. They often make a fix-it-project out of the person. In order to stay happy in their relationship with “the ONE” they will need to continually trim off the things that stick out in the wrong places. They feel they are owed what they bought: a perfect mate who perfectly satisfied their own notions of who “the ONE” should be. Basically what this amounts to is very simply, conditional love.

    Now if “the ONE” changes in what his or her partner feels is a negative way, it truly feels like “the ONE” has betrayed them. They feel they are being asked to be content without something they feel a very real “right” to have. Their sense of security/surety is severely compromised and this often makes them very, very angry, as well as perhaps, hurt.

  4. […] Heartbreak Essential to Find “The One” (spritzophrenia.wordpress.com) […]

  5. The Lost One said

    The concept of “The One” is nothing without commitment to the idea of commitment itself. You pick “The One” you will commit to, and trust that he or she is doing the same, and when you hear vows spoken to your face in front family and friends, you’re safe to assume you’re being given a life-time commitment. That’s as far as it goes. It’s not magic, it’s honesty and work and the willingness to risk failure, and then the work of recovering from it, rebuilding, all with that “One” over and over again. It’s not for the love of labor, but it is the labor of love. Something my ex believed she had to do too much of… Maybe she wasn’t “The One” for me – two children later? She put too much emphasis on the magic, and not enough on work, and apparently very little on the commitment. Believe what you want, but it doesn’t matter who you end up with, it won’t last unless you do the work, and you are both willing to communicate honestly, say what you need (and not surprise the other with it 12 years later), accept your differences, and even encourage them, and not keep score over anything (except scrabble).

    • Thanks Lost One, you’ve shared very wise words and I agree with you. Ideally there is magic AND work, but I know from my own experience I’ve failed at both at times. Thankyou.

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