'You really owe them nothing.' 25 women on what they learnt from their first heartbreak.

Your first heartbreak can feel like a swift punch to the chest. 

You're winded, confused, everything hurts, and you're just trying to shake it off and pretend you're fine, when you're most certainly not. 

But as much as our first heartbreaks hurt, there's usually a lesson to be learnt (even if it doesn't feel like it at the time). 

Whether it's red flags to look out for in your next relationship or realising how you deserve to be treated, there's always something to take away from that first experience. 

Watch: We share our relationship deal breakers. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia. 

For me, my first heartbreak taught me the meaning behind the phrase 'love isn't always enough'. 

It was something my mum had mentioned before, but I didn't realise how true it was until I decided to walk away from my long-term relationship because of the way I was being treated. 

And I'm certainly not the only one who's learnt some hard truths. 

We asked the Mamamia community to share what they took away from their first breakup, and they delivered. 

From lessons about themselves to what not to do next time, here's what they had to say. 

1. Things are going to hurt for a while.

"Emotional pain really can cause physical pain."

2. But you will survive this. Really.  

"The heart does mend, and they just weren't your person!"

"You will survive although at times you don't think you'll ever feel happy again."

3. Heartbreak will make you a better person and a better friend. 

"Heartbreak supercharges your ability to empathise with others. It will make you a better friend to someone who needs you in their own heartbreak."

"Every disappointment is a fresh start. It won't feel like that at the time, but heartbreak leads to reinvention – every single time."

4. Don't lose yourself (or your friends) in a relationship.

"After my first heartbreak, I learnt that it was important to live the life you want and not follow along with someone else's play. My divorce, which was my second and hardest heartbreak, taught me to fight for how I deserved to be treated and to actually observe someone's behaviour, rather than just listening to what they are saying."

"Boys are not the centre of the universe. Don’t let them ruin your grades at school. No boy is worth your future."


"Friendships are so so important. Don't take them for granted."

5. Independence is key. 

"Do not become dependent. You have always been Miss Independent. Do not lose that."

"I was quite young. He was quite beautiful to look at. I put him up on a pedestal and everything became about him, disguised as 'we'. When he ended things abruptly, I realised my own identity was a stranger. Who was I outside of 'we'? Once the shock and grief subsided – and that took a few months – I found joy discovering myself again, with the help of my amazing, supportive friends. I never lost me again."

6. Trying to change someone never works. Why? Because a leopard never changes its spots. 

"It was a horrible time and my heart was so shattered but I learnt that you can't change what people believe in their core. No matter how hard you try, it will never change. I also learnt that I am strong and that I am enough and I deserved more."

"The biggest lesson I learnt was that you can’t make someone be anyone than who they are, and you shouldn’t waste your time trying to change them. I wanted my first boyfriend to behave a certain way towards me, love me a certain way, etc, but he never could. Our arguments were over the same issues again and again, because he wasn’t my person and would never be the person I had envisioned for myself. In one way, I felt I wasted a lot of my time with him, but I also learnt a lot – mostly what I didn’t want in a relationship. After him, I never stayed in relationships past their use by date, so for that I’m grateful."

7. Loving yourself is priority number one.

"You have to love yourself before you can be loved by someone."

8. You shouldn't have to force it. 

"You can’t find your way into a heart that doesn’t want you there."

"If they wanted to, they would!"

9. There's a reason you walked away, don't forget it. 

"DON’T. GO. BACK. TO. THEM. You have to have a REALLLLLY good reason to go back. You broke up the first time for a reason... getting back together with an ex in my opinion is not worth the mental olympics it takes trying to justify to yourself and to your circle why you gave them another chance. Nine times out of 10 they didn’t deserve it and sorry, it’s just not going to work. You WILL break up again." 

10. Cut the communication.

"Do not message them. Cut all strings early. Any contact after the breakup will usually end in disappointment and hurt. So just save yourself the prolonged heartache. Oh, and you really owe them absolutely nothing."

"I had to eventually accept closure on my own when I kept trying to seek it from him."

12. You're allowed to share how you're feeling.

"It is not only allowed, but necessary, to communicate what you need and how you’re feeling. You shouldn’t have to please them at your own expense to keep them around."

13. Remember your worth. Always. 

"As my co-worker best summed up, 'You're a 10, don't f**k with twos.'"

"I should have given the breakup space and given him time to think about it. I asked for reasons and answers with endless texts and phone calls. I wish I had handled myself with more dignity and known my worth, rather than begging for answers to 'why?'. I was 18."


"I was 17 when I had my first heartbreak. I broke up with a boy I'd been dating for two years and he was an abusive, nasty piece of work. The number one thing I learnt from that heartbreak was exactly how strong I am, and what I am capable of surviving and overcoming. It also taught me (on reflection) exactly what I was willing to put up with in a relationship. I've never let a partner treat me with anything other than respect ever again. The one partner that attempted to treat me poorly (by cheating) was promptly given the flick. Because I know my worth, and what I deserve... and that isn't it."

14. It's all about how you are treated. 

"My first boyfriend smashed my heart to pieces. He was passionate and charismatic and made me grow up very quickly. He loved me but did not treat me well. The highs and lows showed me what I wanted in a relationship and what I didn’t. It prepared me for future relationships and made me a compassionate, appreciative partner."

15. You're strong enough to walk away. Even if you built a life together. 

"I learned that I was strong and that I could love hard, but could also turn into ice at the sign of deceit. He wasn’t cheating yet, he was planning on it. We’d been living together for six years. I packed his things, changed the locks and when he came home from work that day I made him a coffee and told him to enjoy it because it was his last one. When he went to check the boxes, I closed the front door to the house and the door to my heart on him. That was the last time I saw him or felt anything for him."

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia. 

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