'Why you should be thankful for your relationship failures.'

The alarm sounds, shaking you awake from another dreamless night.

Fumbling through groggy vision and tangled blankets, you reach the nightstand and kill the ringtone.

Once upon a time, you liked that sound. You selected it from dozens of other options. Now you hate it. When out in public and someone’s phone squawks to life with the same tone you can’t help but shutter.

Now you despise it. You choke it to death every morning, squeezing the phone for the silence button.

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Ringtone slayed, you lay in bed and consider tossing over onto the other shoulder and giving yourself back up to slumber. It would be so easy. Your entire body pleads with you to do so. Instead, you turn on the phone and tap a favorite social app. Seeing the life of friends might help wake you up.

Someone re-posted a memory from years ago. A good memory. Everyone looked so young then. So full of hope and excitement for the future. You scroll past. Between advertisements and images from friends you don’t really know, you see a grade school friend. Arm around their spouse. Smiling children.

How did they get so lucky?

Why did they find their match and not you?

You’re happy for them. Yet something taps at the back of your skull. There’s something in that photo you want. That you’re envious of.

Another picture. Another seemingly happy couple. They have matching holiday sweaters. You roll your eyes. Of course, they do. And yet you turn to the empty space next to you in bed and know you’d trade that gap for a partner, no matter what sweater they wore.

Someone else flashes an engagement ring. They were popped the question on Christmas. Tacky. A best friend is out with their new boyfriend at the beach. How selfish are they to do that during COVID? Someone you barely know proclaims they have the most amazing girlfriend. Fat chance.


Every smiling relationship photo a slap to the system. A cold reminder of what you’re missing. What you crave. And why the world isn’t fair. It makes you cynical and envious and frustrated and hateful and depressed.

You kill the cell phone for the second time, tossing it into blanket folds somewhere. With a sigh, you climb out of bed. After all, it beats looking at all the happy couples on social media, showing off something that you want: a meaningful relationship.

The COVID dating paradox.

When COVID hit and our social lives froze, the lives of single people very much split in two.

You continued to go about your day, working and running errands. While the way in which you went about these activities might have changed, you eventually fell into a kind of routine. And yet your dating life froze in time. It didn’t move on because it couldn’t. With shutdowns and lockdowns and curfews and mandates, it made dating next to impossible. 

But real life continued on, leaving your dating life in the past.

And what’s frustrating is, in many ways, the ability to date has been taken out of your hands. You’ve been left with nothing but the crumbled failures of former loves and the visual reminders of your friends moving forward with both their professional and personal lives.

Stripping you of your chance to find that perfect someone is enough to bring on depression or anxiety or anger. And it sure won’t shut up relatives asking when you’re going to start giving them grandkids.

It’s easy to focus and wallow in the negatives of a paused dating life, but you may be surprised as to what you can get out of this time on your own. Instead of holding a grudge against fate, the universe, and bacteria, take the opportunity to look back and to give thanks.

Because just because your dating life has paused, it doesn’t mean your ability to grow has as well.

Giving thanks for the absence and failures.

Nobody wants to fail.

We don’t set out to screw up. To crash. To burn. We want to succeed. And yet, it is through these failures and the absence of the relationships we desire that teach us so much more. That is if we’re open to it.

Taking a deep look at failure isn’t something most of us want to do. I know I sure didn’t. Why would I want to turn around and look at the train wreck known as my marriage? It sure wasn’t going to help me feel good about myself. I already knew everything I needed to. We were happy, she cheated, the thing crashed and burned. Case closed. What more was there to see?



Convinced I had nothing to do with the outcome, I missed what I had done to poke and prod and push her away. I failed to see the distance I helped create between us. I failed to understand the importance of self-reflection. And so I continued to repeat my failures. And I continued to deny my responsibility.

Assumption is so much easier than acceptance. But few lessons are learned, and even less growth takes place.

It hasn’t been a great year for many of us single people out there this year. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be a failure. Instead, it can be the greatest year of relationship growth in your life.

Listen to The Undone, a Mamamia podcast hosted by Em Vernem and Lucy Neville. Post continues after audio.

Instead of assuming you know what happened to past failures, take a wider look. Because there likely were a number of causes behind the eventual end of a dead relationship.

It doesn’t even have to be the most recent relationship you reflect on. Sometimes the most recent is the most raw, and it’s difficult to handle burning emotions.

Through the self-reflections, you will discover important lessons about yourself. But don’t worry, it’s not all about seeing how you might have aided in the relationship failure. You’ll also discover just how amazing of a human being you are. That you are full of love and deserve to be loved in return. You’ll see how special you are, and how amazing life can be by simply loving yourself.

All because instead of focusing on what you don’t have, you focus on yourself and what you’ve been through.

It hasn’t been the best year. But give thanks. You’re about to be better for it.

A film graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Greyson has reflected on love, life, and everything in between for USA Today, Lonely Planet, Yahoo, and in his own books. When not writing he can be found travelling with his two pups or enjoying a beer with good friends. You can find Greyson on  Twitter, or subscribe to his newsletter.

Feature Image: Getty.

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