12/02/2014 07:48 GMT | Updated 13/04/2014 06:59 BST

Five Love Lessons I've Learned From My Ex-Boyfriends

A lot of things can come out of heartbreak. For me, breakups always entailed a lot more free time, the ability to focus solely on myself and a few love lessons. Here are my favourite ones below, all the credit goes to my (unnamed) ex-boyfriends. Thanks gents!

1. You really can't hate things about them for it to work.

I once dated a guy who was the sweetest, smartest man I'd met in a long time. Unfortunately, he annoyed me to no end. I don't generally think of myself as a critical person, but everything this guy did rubbed me the wrong way. After months of questioning his every move, big and small (Why did you have fast food for lunch? Do you really think a 30 year old man should still play in a band?) and hating myself for it, I finally realized one key thing-it wasn't that he was doing everything wrong. It was just that he wasn't right for me, and that was okay. We were both a lot happier when we called it quits!

2. You are not a fixer.

I'll never forget the moment I realized that one of my ex's had a drinking problem that went well beyond stumbling home from the bar a few nights a week. I did everything I could to help him and let him know that he was supported and loved, and that together we would beat his addiction! It worked for a while, until it became evident that my support was his crutch, and that I could not love him to health. It wasn't our fight to battle "together", and it wasn't fair for me to do the heavy lifting any longer.

3. Not every relationship is THE ONE...but who cares?

Sometimes dating isn't a means to an end. I've experienced so much, so many incredible adventures and romance, with men who were never meant to be my forever lover. Are those experiences any less valid simply because the relationship didn't work out? Some of my exes have become great friends, some are great business connections and some I will never talk to again...but at one time or another, what we had was great, even if it was just a few dates!

4. Communication is key.

I can separate all my ex-boyfriends into two categories: the ones who I was able to talk to, really talk to, and the ones I couldn't. The latter category is unsurprisingly chock full of the men I rarely speak to anymore, no doubt because our relationships were full of drama. Communication is essential to any healthy relationship, especially a romantic one. Lack of communication leads to unnecessary fights, resentment and messy breakups, like that time my ex dumped a cold cup of coffee on my head. YEP.

5. Men say what they mean and mean what they say.

As women, we spend so much time talking about guys and dissecting their every sentence with our girlfriends. Thanks to my multitude of ex-boyfriends, I know not to bother wasting my time reading into what men say. It's not an easy lesson to learn, but once you start accepting the things a guy tells you at face value, and stop projecting your own feelings onto his, your love life will all of a sudden become a lot easier.

What is something you've learned from an ex?