Some things need practice. Lots of practice, and you get better at it. I've never heard or read anyone say this, but I think serial monogamy is a bad idea. It's not something you get better at by doing over and over again. Think of this: how would you wind up if you thought you could master car accidents by driving yourself over a cliff's edge time and time again? And no, the boxing analogy does not apply, 'cause even though one may get better with practice, you wind with less brain function, and the retirement age is early. Maybe it's the same thing with failing at relationships.
If you don't heal your woundedness before you get into a relationship, it's likely you'll attract someone who will wound you in exactly the same places you've been wounded before, or if you don't, you feel as if something is wrong when it isn't. Does one learn from this? I've got to say, emphatically: No.
All that winds up happening is the re-injuring becomes a scar, or an open wound that can not heal, and then everyone feels like a potential injurer. I seriously doubt I could recognize a truly good potential "partner" if they were standing nose-to-nose with me at this point. Everyone reminds me of something or someone terrible (and that includes me).
I didn't get it that I felt this way. I thought I'd gotten over most of this stuff, but all I've done is become numb. Then, something came along and exploded that mistaken notion. As an aside, as much as I love Zen, I think sometimes the at-one-with-the-world-and-everyone-in-it that a person can feel on that black cushion in an empty room is pretty darned empty (but, of course, I'm oversimplifying. . .)
At some point, a person just gives up. I thought I had, and was oh-so cool about it. Yeah. That's fine. I have no more wants, needs, or desires (another black cushion myth and mistake). I thought about living as a monk, thought about it a lot, and have wondered, "Why am I still living in the world?" Well, I don't have a good answer to that one. Or perhaps I do: I know I've used meditation like a drug instead of a tool a good amount of the time. Anything not to feel deeply, please! Yogic practice is another story. Done correctly, the aim is to become more in touch with one's body and emotions, to embrace them. Yes, Zen can do the same thing, but the bulk of the literature and practice was written and designed for men living a monastic existence, so it's pretty easy to fall in love with the coolness of living in no-mind/no-body.
For the most part, those of us who haven't been brought up in deeply religious households just aren't given any clear map of how to live this emotional relational life. If we're lucky, and we have good role models, stuff pretty much takes care of itself, but sadly, a great many people don't have great or even good role models. Not only do we re-injure ourselves, but we injure others, even if our intentions are good.
If only we treated each other with the tenderness we all deserve. Yes, every person is a precious gift, and yep, I sound soppy and new-agey, but I stand by it. Why I continue to apologize for having nice thoughts is another mystery. Well, maybe not. I've been trained to act that a tough guy, and that doesn't work for the girl who lives inside of me screaming to be allowed to finally have a say in things.
And no, I haven't yet learned how to live by it, and I'm starting to realize I'm too scarred by this life to do so. Whoever you are, if you're reading this, and you aren't, be kind and gentle with yourself and others. Do it fearlessly and honestly. Life goes by in a flash, and it's worth it.
Addendum: I wonder sometimes why I over-share in the public sphere. It's one part compulsivity (I just can't help myself), and three parts a desire to yell out warnings to the world, to those who haven't made the mistakes I have in this life. . .it's not so different than yelling, "Hey! Don't walk down that road. There's a huge chasm of venomous snakes down there." Well, yeah, maybe you want to see for yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Image note: Head of Medusa, Peter Paul Rubens, 1616.