4 Relationship Mistakes You Should Make

african american couple smiling (BlackDoctor.org) — Mistakes in love aren’t easy. More than likely, you’d love to just forget them. But, were these errors in judgement a complete waste of time? Not necessarily.

“Mistakes in relationships represent one of the best ways we can learn what we like and don’t like, and what others like and don’t like,” explains Maryanne Fisher, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada and coauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Chemistry of Love. “They also help us push our boundaries. Mistakes represent fantastic opportunities for growth.”

That said, don’t be afraid to commit these four classic dating don’ts…and embrace the wisdom that can from them:

Confess Your Love Too Soon

Why: This is easily one of the most classic dating mistakes of all time. Still, being cautious isn’t always the best way to play it in real life. Do you really want to conduct your love life as if it’s some carefully planned military operation?

How: If you do blurt out those three little words and later regret it, you can recover without changing your cell phone number. Just explain that you were wrapped up in the moment and are of a calmer mind now.

Lesson learned: Sometimes blurting out how you feel is the right thing to do. Would it really be so bad if more people stopped being so afraid to express their true feelings of love?

Give The Relationship Another Chance 

Why: This “mistake” could be the right thing for you. “In many cases it would be unwise because you have all this baggage as a couple,” Fisher concedes. “However, getting back together and working through that baggage could be useful. It might help you determine why the relationship ended, if that’s still unresolved, or it might actually lead to a stronger, healthier relationship with that person.”

How: Approach things slowly, make sure you both spend enough quality time together and away from each other, communicate with each other honestly, and be very aware of the fact that there is a difference between missing someone and needing them back in your life.

Lesson learned: Finding a real connection with someone isn’t something one should dismiss too easily, after all. Making this particular mistake shows you understand that relationships can come with some bumps in the road and still be worthwhile.

Date A Bad Boy

Why: You know you want to. There’s just something alluring about a man who is confident and unpredictable. Often, these bad boys get their dubious reputations because they are only available for a short-term dalliance, and that isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Dating someone who doesn’t want to settle down could open you up to new experiences and adventures that you might not otherwise have.

How: The key is to go into short-term dalliances with realistic expectations. “If a woman decides to date a bad boy, she should know what she’s getting into,” advises Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., the Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology Department of Psychology at New York University. “Many women date bad boys hoping they can change them. The fact is, they won’t change them. Women shouldn’t have pretensions about that.”

Lesson learned: So why bother, then? Kaufman explains, “Sometimes women need to date a bad boy or two before they realize how valuable nice guys really are.” After a few dating mistakes like this one, you’ll be less likely to take a stable relationship, when it comes along, for granted. Similar to dating a bad boy is dating someone you have absolutely nothing in common. Why? You might just find out you really have a knack for fixing a car or actually enjoy football.

Distance Yourself

Why: Conventional wisdom says that long-distance relationships don’t work. And, for the most part, the conventional wisdom is right. When you’re in different time zones, it can be really hard to stay connected. According to Laura Stafford, Ph.D., a communication professor at the University of Kentucky-Lexington who studies long-distance courting, “When it comes to figuring out compatibilities, long-distance relationships deserve a bad rap. A huge number of people who think they will live happily ever after break up when they don’t live near each other.

How: Stafford advises that if you want your lost-distance relationship to last, you have to get past the honeymoon behavior and make an effort to stay current with your partner — not just on the big things, but on all the little things, too.

Lesson learned: Stafford says that a major advantage of a long distance relationship is that you can spend all of your time together like it’s a honeymoon. You tend to be on your best behavior when you get together, and when the two of you aren’t in the same city, you can focus completely on work and other obligations. Some people, in fact, prefer dating this way for this very reason. It can be a good fit for the ultra-independent soul, or for young people working to establish themselves in a demanding career.