Throughout the relationship cycle, we encounter and date many different types of people. These relationships, whether good or bad, all serve a purpose. They help us learn from our mistakes, shape our preferences in mates, and give us valuable experience. You have the First Love’s, the flings, the “what-was-I-thinking” relationships, and one of the most important: The Stepping Stone relationship (S.S.R.). This relationship is one that everyone encounters, and goes a long way in shaping your relationship characteristics.
I call these relationship Stepping Stones because they are the penultimate relationship you have before THE relationship that leads to marriage or a stronger union. The circumstances on how you got together don’t really matter, rather its the crux of your interactions with your boyfriend/girlfriend. You won’t be able to identify a relationship as an S.S.R. until you’re in another one. Let’s say you’re with someone and end up getting engaged, or it becomes what you would call “the most serious relationship I’ve had to date.” Upon reflection, you will notice that certain core characteristics you possess that allow you to be a great boyfriend/girlfriend, you learned in a previous relationship.
The S.S.R. is the one that makes us better. Women will refer to this relationship when they describe how they “made him better for the next chick”. This may be the relationship where we learned and refined our girlfriend/boyfriend skills. You learned proper restaurant etiquette. You learned how to listen and be in tune with your partners feelings. You learned how to have disagreements without being nasty, contentious, or demeaning. You learned how to be selfless and actually care about someone other than yourself. It’s lessons like these that make us better as people and as significant others.
We learn from our mistakes. What if you were the chronic cheater? What if you were extremely selfish? What about those nasty habits, or your inability to balance work and personal life? Lack of priorities, insecurity, being a nag, and other less endearing qualities are discovered and brought to light. In the S.S.R., you have individuals who kept it real with you like no one else. They let you know about yourself, and in turn, let you know what won’t fly in future relationships. This molds you into a better significant other.
The negative aspect of the S.S.R., is that usually someone is left holding the bag. Rarely do you find dual winners in the aftermath of a S.S.R. Cheaters will either be left, or will leave for greener pastures. Men who run into Girlfriend Zero, will always lose in the short term. That whole mantra “People enter your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” holds true with the S.S.R. Sometimes, the right people meet at the wrong times. One person may not be ready for a serious relationship, or to go to THAT next level. Sometimes people can’t get past their past. Whatever the situation, the S.S.R. leaves feelings of disappointment, resentment, and anger, but you truly won’t appreciate that experience until you’re in a better space.
Heartbreak is just another harsh reality of relationships. If love was smooth, we’d all marry our first girlfriends ever. People change. Situations…will arise. Be thankful of having to go through Hell to get to Heaven. Your past molds your future, and the Stepping Stone Relationship will one day be the trampoline that catapults you into the stratosphere of a major relationship.