For better or worse, we all have a past. We have all been in relationships which have all been in relationships that leave us with hurts, pain, and baggage. Relationships have a way of shaping us and how we connect with each other. It makes sense that we can not just turn that off, but how do we know that it is impacting our current relationship? Here are a few signs that your past is showing up in the present.
You Have a Hard Time Letting Go of Things
And I mean actual things. I am a somewhat sentimental guy. My desk has little knick-knacks from parts of my life spread over it. There are certain objects that have the ability to take me back to a different time in my life just by looking at them. It is a definite warning sign if you find yourself doing this with things from your past relationship.
I also see this playing out on social media. I will be pretty blunt about this point. If you have gone through a painful or nasty breakup/divorce, there is no reason to remain connected with your Ex on social media. The same way that sentimental objects take us back, social media will keep taking you back to that pain and keep you there. There is a good chance that if you are not able to hit delete, you are still feeling the loss of that old relationship.
You Can Not Stay Attuned to Your Current Partner
Relationships require emotional attunement. Relationship expert Dr. John Gottman says that attunement is the desire to know the others inner world. This desire to get each other and attend to each others needs is what keeps relationships living, growing, and thriving as time passes.
This is really hard to do when we are living with pain from our past. It is like trying to give someone a piggyback ride while you have a broken ankle. At best, you will fall over. What is more likely is that you will hurt yourself further. You will feel like you are straining yourself without any healing.
You Are Extremely Reactive
Hurt is hurt, whether it is emotional or physical. Our brain does not necessarily tell the difference. When are hurt our instincts take over. If our previous relationship was painful for us, our brain puts us in survival mode when intimacy comes up.
This is why it can feel like we go 0-60mph sometimes. Our instincts are taking over and trying to defend us. Because we have learned at some point “I get hurt when people get close.” If you find yourself going into this survival mode with your current partner, you will want to seek help to move past this.
Couples therapy can be really helpful in moving through baggage from our past. But let’s say that your current partner does not want to come, or you feel like you would be dragging them in. Individual therapy can also be helpful in healing old wounds. Whatever the case, The Marriage & Family Clinic can help you in leaving the past in the past.
About the Author
Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado.