If you’ve experienced some sort of trauma in a past relationship, it can take some time to build up the courage to jump back into the dating scene. Sometimes the effects of past relationships make it difficult to see your current partner for the kind and generous person that he or she is. Here are some ways that you could be letting the baggage of a past relationship inhibit you from seeing your partner for who they really are.
You panic when you feel out of touch
It’s normal to not be 100% on the same page 100% of the time in a relationship. People are dynamic and we grow through our differences. In fact, it’s often our differences that provide depth in our relationships. It’s also normal to feel out of touch every once in a while. However, if you’ve been in a failed relationship it can be tempting to overcompensate when you feel out of the loop by constantly texting, calling or smothering your relationship in other ways. Instead, try to identify where these feelings are really coming from. Involve your partner and let them know how and why you feel the way that you do. Trust that just because your ex left you hanging, doesn’t mean everyone will.
You keep second-guessing yourself
Relationships take a lot of navigating and most of the time it isn’t skillful. Acknowledge that people make mistakes, yourself included. Constantly second-guessing yourself about what you’re doing or what your partner isn’t doing could be a result of lingering stress from your previous relationship. It might be difficult at first, but acknowledge that in order for your current relationship to succeed you have to be OK with mistakes being made.
You overreact to things your partner says or does
If you constantly worry about upsetting your partner or overreact when they bring up concerns, it could be evidence that you are experiencing the effects of past emotional abuse. Dr. Jill Weber wrote an article for Psychology Today suggesting that instead of falling into an unhealthy pattern where you project your ex’s behaviors onto your partner, “… work on noticing how your partner is communicating…; instead of assuming it’s the same old thing, look for differences. Is he/she more sensitive to you, or is he/she still able to see the good in you even when upset with you? And remind yourself that all couples have conflict, and even if someone is upset, you can work things through without it becoming a crisis” (Weber, 2018).
You constantly blame your partner
No one wins when you play the blame game. When you’ve come from a toxic relationship it’s easy to expect the same sort of treatment. Resist the urge to blame your partner for things your ex did. “The last thing you want is for your relationship to create further feelings of betrayal and disappointment because you don’t feel understood or validated… The onus is on you to communicate with your partner and to describe as best you can what you’re feeling and why. Try to resist slipping into a thought process of expecting them to ‘just know’ what you are feeling and experiencing” (Lachmann, 2017).
You’re not loving yourself
If you’re recovering from an unhealthy past relationship, take the time to acknowledge the hurt you experienced. Oftentimes we project onto others the way we feel about ourselves. Learn to love yourself and to embrace your flaws and vulnerabilities. And allow your partner to love you as well. It’s one of life’s perplexities that in order to heal we often have to open our hearts and trust that strength lies in embracing your imperfections, not in hiding them. Be kind to yourself.
Lachmann, S. (2017, April 10). When Trauma Affects Your Trust in Your Relationship. Retrieved February 2018, from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/me-we/201704/when-trauma-affects-your-trust-in-your-relationship
Thompson, S. (2018). Can a Past Relationship Affect Present Relationships? Retrieved from Our Everyday Life: https://oureverydaylife.com/can-past-relationship-affect-present-relationships-43060.html
Weber, J. P. (2018, February 07). When Past Romantic Trauma Damages Your Current Relationship. Retrieved February 2018, from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/having-sex-wanting-intimacy/201802/when-past-romantic-trauma-damages-your-current-relationship
Young, K. (2016). Stopping Old Wounds from Stealing Relationships. Retrieved February 2018, from Hey Sigmund: https://www.heysigmund.com/how-to-stop-old-wounds-from-stealing-into-relationships/