Home Featured The One Before The One: Analyzing Failed Relationships

The One Before The One: Analyzing Failed Relationships

Loneliness Stones Ever!

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 are 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 that you possess that allows 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.

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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.

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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.


  1. The thought is nice, but all I have to say is… I have stepped on a lot of stones, and they have led me to absolutely nowhere.

    "We learn from our mistakes. …Lack of….. and other less endearing qualities are discovered and brought to light." ~ learning from MY mistakes? Hmmm, which meant (back then) that I would have to be faithful and quit treating men like shit in order to recognize who I would truly be happy with…. it didn't work, lol!! I'm always the best thing that ever happened… they want what I want… yadda yadda But they can't handle the responsibility of having everything they claimed they wanted.

    Streetz, I'm going to take this information and stay in high spirits. I understand that NO 1 stone in the middle of that water when crossing the river is going to get me to the other side. Damn!! Just when you thought you almost made it…. lol!!

    1. BINGO….you hit the nail on the head with the statement about men wanting what they want, but not being ready for it. This is the case too many times on the relationship scene, and because of it, as women we are constantly trying to find that balance in a relationship. We get with a guy and because we were designed by God to be their help meet we are constantly trying to figure out how to help them overcome the challenges that they have, or how to get then to next level. The funny thing is oftentimes they are not worrying about these things. This can be identified as being too assertive. Also simply giving a small recommendation on how to solve a problem is deemed as bossy. So like you said, "Just when you thought you made it". Try, try again and again.

      Check out my post on my blog about accepting or leaving the one you're with: http://therelationshipchronicles.com/you-love-the

      (blogger) http://www.therelationshipchronicles.com

  2. "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."

    Yeah, I tried to explain this in the midst of my last breakup…didn't go over too well, lol. "How can you tell me I'm gonna appreciate this later?" He was too hurt to hear me. For me, being with him showed me my flaws in how I chose men. It revealed a pattern…a bad pattern that, once I knew it for what it was, I had to break. I was FINALLY ready to throw away my "list" and just receive love. Relationship wise, its the best decision I've ever made. He was a nice guy and it sucks that he was def the or a SSR rela but…its not like I planned it that way. He was built like the first Adam, lol…who can resist that??!! Smh…

  3. Chronic S.S.R.
    Pretty damn sick of it.
    I've since placed a moratorium on "projects". Come at me whole, or don't come at all. My middle name is not 'Upgrade'. The only thing I wanna teach you is how to properly love ME, not love in general.
    Great post.

  4. Personally, I think just got out of a major S.S.R relationship six months ago when me and my ex decided to take a break, but did not get back together. She taught me more stuff about myself than any other relationship I was in. I learned that there comes a time in a relationship that you have to be selfish or you are doomed to a misery of helping your significant other exceed with little to show for your own happiness. I learned a lot more than just this from our relationship, but this is something major I took from it. The dichotomy of my selflessness and her selfishness resulted in her getting what she wanted and me hurting from ultimately giving her everything. Luckily, I'm young, so I probably still have quite a few stones to add to my river before I reach the destination.

  5. This was a great read. We are all works in progress! I agree that some relationships are designed as stepping stones. Reading this helped me see clearly that I may be in a S.S.R. right now. And I'm comfortable with that. Knowing this will help prevent me from trying to turn him into the "ONE" and to just relax and continue to enjoy him and what our experiences together will teach me. I've been on a journey of trying to identify where my past relationships went wrong and tweaking the one variable in each situation to get a better end result, I am that one variable and the better end result will be: A better me.

  6. I mostly agree with this post. But, not surprising to me, what jumped out to me the most initially was "Women will refer to this relationship when they describe how they “made him better for the next chick”. Stuff like this is just a woman/person's way to cope with a failed relationship. Sure that person could have and probably did learn things from the relationship but you don't get to claim credit for it because most of the time they will not give you credit for it.

    Weird thing for me is my ex and I are each other's SSR. We literally got married a month or 2 apart from each other.

    I will like to point out that there is nothing wrong with being the SSR. Sure you can dwell on people achieving goals that you would like to as well but that just makes you a future angry, bitter cat lady or man that collects clowns and trains.
    My recent post Murci, Murci Me

  7. *curls into a ball* I’m not sure I wanna be anyone’s girlfriend I feel safer by myself. All guys ever talk about is how crappy women are and how much fun they’re having and how awesome their s*x game is. When will men have a stepping stone relationship where their talks becomes ‘I met this awesome woman; I almost married her’…’man, I sure did do a good job getting this company off the ground!’….’dude, it’s SO awesome having a drink — in the comfort of my own home right by the fireplace.’ When do men step on someone to get to THAT level? and how come everyone learns from their mistakes? How come you can’t just mostly be awesome and then just learn what you do correctly and then make ‘correctly’ better and then make ‘better’ perfect.

    I did that within myself and it had nothing to do with my relationships even though I told myself I’d have a boyfriend for every stage of my development; because, I figured I’d outgrow them once I developed certain parts of myself and it turns out I didn’t really do it I just kept to myself….but that’s what men did with women. and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing because as you said….well. I don’t really think men learn anything from the women they date. They spend too much time being critical of the woman and it’s kind of disrespectful. I don’t think men learn over the course of their lifetimes I think before they get married they suddenly decide to shape up and crash course it and that happens, like you said, with an SSR. but then they end up dropping the ball once married because there’s no actual foundation within their development.

    I perceive men to be ignorant so I feel afraid of them. Stepping on all men seems like a safer way to get married and avoid being a woman is stepped on because this learning process of how to *be* married?

    It’s day and night between men and I. You learn from your failures; I learn from excelling. I know what makes me excell and most men don’t know that about themselves so how are we going to be in a relationship let alone get married? I’ll take Ben and Jerry though. *curls into a tighter ball*

    1. sweety Gen 2v18: "änd the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a help meet him". He will find YOU have faith, don't be fearful. you have your match, refuse to be mated instead of matched.

      1. Pff. Believing in God does nothing in a tight spot. I was a devout Christian my entire life and what do I have to show for it….

        but hatred.

        I will keep my fear and distrust and emotionless state towards men because I have been conditioned to be that way. No one is going to find me. No one is going to hear me. Regardless of if it's good or not the fact of the matter is I AM alone; there's no point to sitting here with an uplifting scripture hoping for the best. but it did make me feel a bit of joy for a split second. Thanks. =/

  8. As far as I know, I haven't been anyone's stepping stone. I've been with dudes that left me, that I left, and, given that I tend not to keep tabs on exes, that's all I know about the matter. If you meet someone right after me, I tend to think it was just time for you to meet that person, not that I made you ready.

    I can't say I don't think these relationships exist, however. I have had SEVERAL friends of mine date men for SEVERAL years, let them move in, and then they were dumped unceremoniously. Les than a year later in ALL my friends cases, that person married a new woman. That definitely stinks of an SSR to me. It is one of the MANY reasons I don't believe in investing longer than 2 years (some say 3, but I don't have that kind of time), without a ring, if that's what you want out of that situation.

    1. With most men when they marry it’s about timing. I think there are some women that they just don’t feel compelled to marry, no matter how much they love and care about them. Even if everything is perfect with 1 woman, it could be 1 big thing that makes a man not want to marry a woman.
      I think people only truly learn from relationships when they really want to. For some people the relationship is just whatever it was for that time, and once it’s over they think nothing of it and move on.

  9. For women I think we learn what we don't want and whats not good for us, for men I think they learn what they do want, and what is good for them.

  10. *sigh*
    What was I thinking occurs more often then it should, but when about 10 minutes roll by, I realize exactly why I was involved in the first place – relations. And by that I mean having something in common. Every relationship that ends should be an SSR, cuz if you didnt take anything from it, odds are it took something from you.

    In my case, I just know what I will not stand for and make it clear where I stand from the jump. Too many men out here losing their souls by making honest mistakes yet closing themselves off the next time, with chests "tighter than 2 closed fingers" (Rocky reference)

  11. Awesome post. It's a great reminder for me especially has I try to learn from a failed relationship last year & now another that ended last month b/c of cheating. I thought last year's failed relationship was to become my stepping stone relationship b/c of the lessons learned & that my next one (this most recent one) might lead to longer & possibly future happiness. But I clearly missed some character flaws of this recent relationship that would've eliminated him from being the One after the Stepping Stone Relationship. So this is definitely a reminder for me!!!

  12. I have a question about the SSR though: does it ALWAYS have to end? I mean, why can't the same person that makes you a better person be the same one that you end up with? Am I just living in a fantasy world? (It's possible, I'm a hopeless romantic). I tend to think that it is a plus if a person can teach you about yourself, to have you better yourself. And if they can still love you when you are the BEST you, then all the better. I guess I just don't see why the relationship necessarily has to end, or why only hindsight is 20/20. I want to be with the person who made me better. That's a good thing…right?

  13. I agree totally Bryce! Why can't you be with someone that made you a better person? So true, I also never understood the whole making you a better person for someone else, because are you really? If anything you made them into the perfect person you wanted so why not be able to enjoy what you "created" and I say that lightly because you didn't create them but in a sense you have gone through experiences, arguments, sad moments, and happy moments that they know what hurts you and what makes you happy. So why would you give that person to someone else who may not appreciate what made you happy? I just don't understand?

    1. +1. I know life’s unpredictable, but the bf and I have put in a couple of years’ worth of arguing and making up, talking things out, and compromising because we want to be better for each other.
      We’re working actively to learn what pleases or hurts us, and how to keep the good things going. This is definitely my SSR, and we hope we’re each other’s “the one”. In my opinion, SSRs not becoming the one, is probably due to something gone wrong, and it isn’t the norm.

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    – Liuz


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