Single or taken, playing the field or being wooed by a new mate, we’ve all had our share of dating duds. Before we click with the right someone, it can certainly take a journey to get there. Some longer than others, and often more than once do we find ourselves down a path that’s going nowhere.

Dating can seem endless. It can seem like all the good ones are taken, or just the ones you’re interested in. It can feel pointless if you’re not in a relationship or everyone else is but you. It can feel like a game you can’t win, when it’s not really the competition it’s made out to be.

These missteps and failures when it comes to finding the “one” or at least someone can feel like a huge waste of time. But like I always try to find the silver lining, I believe it is possible in romantic scenarios as well. For every bad experience, there is a lesson to be learned after all. No matter what the scenario you can always find a way that it made you better in the long run.

1)You got stood up on a date.

It’s hard to not take this personally as a sign of rejection. Who knows why it had to happen to you? Maybe you did do something wrong, or maybe that person just didn’t feel they could bring themselves to meet with you. You can drive yourself crazy thinking of all the possible reasons or b.s excuses, but ultimately the person is a coward who couldn’t even tell you why. You don’t want that kind of person in your life anyway. Next.

2) You said “I love you” and they didn’t say it back.

To be completely vulnerable about your feelings for someone and to not have that same response is heartbreaking. It doesn’t have to mean your relationship is completely over. It may mean the person needs more time to get to that place, or wants to be sure of their feelings before acting too quickly. But if their response isn't met with sincere care and trying to assure you that they appreciate your feelings, then it could be a sign that you two aren’t on the same page. You need to be able to tell your partner anything, and if they can't ever see a possibility of loving you then it can help you recognize that you need to be with someone who could. It helps you not waste your time.

3) You’re leading on someone that you could potentially be more than you are right now.

This can be hard if you don’t notice you’re doing it. So if there’s a slight chance you feel like you could or even more obvious if someone points this out to you, the last thing you can do is ignore it because it will only get worse. It sucks when someone’s pining for you and you can’t reciprocate those feelings, but ultimately addressing that is crucial. It can help you become more upfront about your emotions and save both of you a lot of awkwardness if you’re honest about it.

4) You’re leading on more than one person.

One is bad enough, but three definitely becomes a crowd once you start attracting more than one suitor. The odds won’t be in your favor as it takes two to tango. Casual dating can be fun and a change for you, but once someone’s intentions with you are known it’s important to recognize the value in that. People’s hearts aren’t meant for you to toy around with, and why you may be the subject of adoration it doesn’t make you powerful and others submissive. It sucks to have to limit your choices sometimes when you luckily have great options in front of you, but ultimately something will have to give. And hey it must mean you’re pretty damn likeable so that’s something.

5) You got back together with an ex.

The one thing you’re told not to do and yet you do it anyway. It’s perfectly natural and tempting to do so. When you’re with someone for a long period of time, it can be hard to get rid of them so fast. You want to hold on even more so and not let go. It’s important to not beat yourself up over it. You’re human. You want to not feel lonely, but loved. Just remember that feeling of returning to someone familiar is temporary, and may not last as long a second time around. You're meant to move on and will.

6) You tried being friends with benefits with your ex.

Again, can feel like a step in the wrong direction, and most likely will always be. You can sleep with your ex as much as you want and call it casual, but likely either one or both people’s feelings will resurface. It’s just delaying the outcome of fully separating for good. But if you’re not ready to let go, it’s okay. You will reach a breaking point, sometimes slowly breaking away in this transitioning of relationship will help you come to terms with ending the relationship for good.

7) You met someone online who you really aren’t into, but continue to see.

This similarly goes along the lines of leading someone on. What makes this different is there’s more of a mutual understanding that you’re both passing time, casually dating. There’s no real expectation of a relationship or starting something serious. It can be perfectly normal to have phases like this where neither of you have any great prospects and are looking for a way to pass the time. These meaningless flings or filler relationships can help lead to realize what you really want, and in the right direction of who is more right for you.

8) You had a one night stand that you regret.

It may be weird cause it’s something you typically don’t do or weird because it was something you didn’t plan. Whatever the case, there really isn’t shame in it. Sometimes you know what you want out of someone and it doesn’t have to be a big deal or lead to something. It just depends what you’re looking for. You don’t always have to make things out more than you want them to be. It can remind you that you don’t have to pressure yourself to continue to be romantic with someone you don’t want to full-term. You’re good, you’re fine with moving on.

9) You got cheated on.

This can also be a hard thing to come to terms with especially when you move into future relationships. There’s a blame on yourself as well as why you put a trust in someone who betrayed it. It can put you in a tailspin, but it also helps alert you into how this person really feels about you and how much you’re willing to put up with someone you love. It forces you to reexamine your relationship as well as how your vulnerability can be used against you. People who love or care about you can take you for granted.

10) You cheated on your significant other.

On the opposite end, there can also be where you take someone for granted. You feel good with what you have, and want more, or you’re not feeling good with what you have and want more. You’re always going to want more from people, or be tempted to see far you can get away with something. Ultimately, your choices will catch up with you. It just depends how much you’re willing to risk your current relationship for a different opportunity. And if you’re always wanting more, maybe it’s time to reflect on why one person isn’t good enough for you.

11) Your best friend and significant other hooked up.

This feels very much like every person’s worst nightmare of when two people you’re extremely close to betray you. It happens more often than not otherwise we wouldn’t have so many television shows and movies showing it. It is a real possibility and honestly shows a lot about people’s character. Like everything else, it probably shows a different side to those you thought you knew that you may not have found out about otherwise. It can be the worst betrayal ever, but can also be the best wake-up call that people who have your back don’t. And you don’t need to waste anymore of your time with people who don’t value and respect you with something that would hurt you so much.

No matter what the dilemma can be, you will always come out stronger on the other side. Reflection is meant to come from such experiences. The pain and embarrassment will pass, and you will be able to walk back into your next romantic endeavor more experienced and prepared to take on whatever comes at you next.