When to Let Bygones be Bygones in Your Relationship

· January 16, 2018

Say you’ve had several arguments with your significant other. Disappointments. Now, the eternal question comes up: is it worth it to continue the relationship, or better to close the book and start over?

Now say you decide to keep it going. Is it really as easy as “letting bygones be bygones”? Can everything go back to how it was before?

To find the answer, we have to take several factors into account. Among them are: the state of our relationship, the intensity of these discussions or arguments, and whether or not there is still a foundation of mutual love and respect.

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

-Buddha-

The first challenge: knowing ourselves

Most people think they know themselves well. However, if this were true, there would be a lot less pain. As it is, people still sometimes pick the option that leads to pain without meaning too. Knowing yourself well is a difficult task.

a man looking in the mirror

How do we act when we get angry? Do we fight or flee? How do we react when our partner hurts us? Do we prefer to kiss and make up or be left alone?

All these issues are important. If we do not know ourselves, it will be hard for us to know each other. 


  • “I’d like if you left me alone for a few minutes after an argument. Otherwise I can’t calm down.”
  • “When I get home from work, I need to go straight to the gym to de-stress.”
  • “My passion is football. I need to watch my team’s games or I’ll wake up in a bad mood the next day.”

If we stop doing activities that make us happy, the relationship suffers. When we don’t see ourselves as satisfied, we are quick to get angry and our relationship will likely feel the consequences.

If we do a little self-analysis, the relationship may greatly improve. When everyone can be clear about what they want and what they need, discussions can start to have positive outcomes.

When is it possible to start over with your significant other?

Forgiving and moving forward with the relationship are very different things. You can forgive someone’s behavior and still break up with them. So when can there be a “clean slate”?

It’s a mistake to think that a clean slate means everything is going to be easy. It would be like believing a broken vase can be unbroken by magic. We must invest time and effort into getting everything working again.

The opportune moment to put this idea into practice is the moment when the desire to change and to move forward is bigger than the pain and suffering experienced so far.

Therefore, if you’re not willing or feel you can’t lean towards the side of change, it’s better to leave now.

Move forward without twisting

You can only try to make changes to the relationship if you both assume that you’re part of the problem. It’s important to feel that you’re moving in the same direction, not sideways.

  • Stop criticizing the other. Discuss change without placing blame. Resentment, anger, and repression make the situation worse. Acknowledging errors helps resolve conflicts. Each person has to take part of the responsibility.
  • Denying the problems and continuing to pretend everything is okay takes away from the work you’re doing. You can only change the behavior if you are conscious of it.
  • Propose solutions. Each person should express their perspective and a solution to the problem. Be proactive and creative. However crazy your ideas might be, they may be the right path to take, or at least give you a good laugh in a serious situation.
  • Highlight the positive aspects of the relationship and each other. Look at how far you’ve come together, what you’ve built, what else you want to achieve. Find the shared strength you possess.

Be careful! Demands are not effective in this situation because they build barriers. Not everything can be answered with yes. You have to set limits and learn to say no. Assertiveness in this sense is essential for a balance of power within the relationship.

a couple, the girl holding yellow flowers

If you want a different outcome, do something different

Some decisions we make imply an unwillingness to create a clean slate. The most common mistake is to not change anything in the relationship. To let inertia carry you and keep you in your comfort zone.

Feelings of revenge are also very dangerous, poison for those who crave it. Do not respond to being hurt by trying to hurt your partner in return.

Making life impossible for the other is not love or respect or affection. Nor is it a good way to generate empathy, which is important for moving forward.

Another dangerous situation is when only one person wants to reconcile. A relationship is teamwork and must remain so in hard times. Both people have to contribute something positive to the common goal. Neither should do the work alone.

Making concessions for the “sake of the children” or “because that’s how it’s always been” is unhealthy. The simple fact is that living under the same roof is not synonymous with being a happy family. If the parents are well, the children are well, not the other way around.

Finally, if you stay with your partner out of fear of being alone or emotional dependence, you’re condemning yourself. Happiness is in you, not in others. At least, this is true of permanent happiness.

It’s good to walk together but not be tied to each other. Otherwise, internal tensions end up wearing us out and don’t allow us to enjoy how beautiful life can be.

In any case, the decision you make has to bring you happiness and serve as a boost so that the relationship can improve.