Leave Everyone Better Than You Found Them

Written by
Michael Wells

Leave Everyone Better Than You Found Them

Written by
Michael Wells

Leave Everyone Better Than You Found Them

Written by
Michael Wells
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“Why do all of my relationships seem to end in failure?”
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What do you want from your relationships?

Some of you will answer, “a life partner to build a great future and family with.”

For you, a good relationship is ultimately about security, comfort, commitment, a sense of certainty, the whole till death do us part deal.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

For others reading this, the answer is simply “fun.” You want people to enjoy life with, experience sex and love with, with the understanding that these people will come and go as life progresses.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.

But as you’ve probably already seen... whichever goal you have, you’ll likely go through quite a few relationships in your lifetime. 

Breakups happen all the time

The stats on relationships are varied and complex, but it’s clear that breakups happen all the time.

According to relationship author Hellen Chen, 85% of dating relationships end in breakups, leaving 15% who choose to get married. That’s 1 in 7 couples. But once you’re married, what then?

50% of marriages in the US end up in divorce. 

Does that mean that only 7% of all relationships are... “successful”? 

Breakups are so common that there are even online breakup calculators to estimate the probability that your relationship will last, based on the data from a Stanford study.

Breakup shaming is a thing

When I research all of these statistics, I notice something fascinating.

Most studies I find are organized from the perspective that a successful relationship is one that results in marriage, and that the marriage lasts forever.

Even this hugely popular chart neglects to show anything regarding breakups or divorces.

I think this reflects a popular view of society.

We don’t want to see breakups as a normal, healthy or positive aspect of our lives.

But they are.

A Breakup is not a Failure

If you’ve been through a big breakup, you’ve no doubt spent weeks reflecting on what led to the relationship ending. There are so many possibilities... 

Maybe you had different personalities, or wanted different things. Maybe one - or both - of you struggled with emotions, expectations, and communication. Perhaps there was a big life change, like a career, or a need to move apart. 

Or perhaps you just grew apart. People change, and sometimes that change leads them in different directions. 

Seeing a breakup as a failure has a big problem, in that it leads us to...

Playing the Blame Game

If you think back to your major breakup experiences, I expect you'll see that in many of them, you've sought someone to blame.

Maybe it was your partner that was at fault, for being too difficult, for being emotionally immature, or controlling.

Maybe it was yourself. You weren't ready to commit, or you didn't know how to be the boyfriend or girlfriend that your partner needed. Maybe you just didn't try hard enough, or invest enough.

Or maybe... you blamed someone else for interfering in your relationship.

But does it really matter?

Much of our lives are not under our control. In relationships, we control at best 50%.

We hold on hard to the fantasy that we're different. Our relationship is different, and we'll break the curve.

But perhaps that's just a comforting fantasy.

The Golden Rule of Relationships

We live our best lives when we are fully aware of the uncertainty ahead, and when we can accept that honest reality.

So rather than measuring success by how long a relationship lasts, we should measure it by something more meaningful... By something that we can control, even in a brief relationship connection.

I phrase it this way...

Love intensely, live freely, learn avidly, and leave everyone better than you found them.

When you have this perspective, your WHY of relationships, and your perspective on breakups, shifts radically.

When a relationship ends, you'll still reflect on the question "why didn't this relationship last?" and probably find some wisdom there- but you'll find far there are far more important questions to reflect on too.

Questions like...

"What did this person add to my life, my experiences, my memories that I appreciate most? What joy and wisdom have I've gained in this relationship?"

"What did I add to this person's life, in great experiences, memories, and learning?"

And the most important one...

How has this relationship made me a better person, and how have I helped my partner to become a better person?

Because in truth, that's the point of a relationship. No matter where it goes.

When you approach relationships that way, it's impossible to fail.

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First published on 
. Last updated on 
September 25, 2022

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