How to let go
While you might be able to change some things about your partner, his or her past isn’t one of them – and sometimes, you need to figure out if that’s a deal breaker.
Everyone’s got a past – some more complicated than others. And, while our past has made us who we are, there’s always a chance it may pose a threat to new relationships, too. We chat to Jacqui Manning, The Friendly Psychologist, about some ways we commonly become consumed with our partner’s past, and what to do about it.
ISSUE 1: Your partner constantly shares stories about all the happy times he had before meeting you (and it drives you nuts)
Tales about how awesome life was before you came along may give even the most secure person pause, but before feeling threatened, instead try to embrace it as an opportunity to share things about yourselves.
Jacqui says … “Swapping stories has been a tradition since the dawn of time, so remember your partner’s allowed to have a past and try not to take it personally – he/she is probably just doing it as a ‘get to know me’ exercise, and possibly even to impress you a little! Bottom line: the past is not a place to be feared; it’s brought your partner to this point. That said, if the stories are TMI or hurting your feelings, be clear. Using “I” statements, explain you’d prefer to focus on the now and the future rather than the past.”
ISSUE 2: You don’t like how much your partner’s ex and their kids encroach on your time together
Logistically, this is tricky because raising kids takes time, effort, money and love, and if your partner’s an involved parent, that should make you love him/her more. That said, it’s natural to feel a tad left out.
Jacqui says …“As little humans who can’t make it in the world without their parents, the kids come first. Routines and relationships help kids thrive, so being clear with your partner about what needs to happen (e.g. school, sports, parties) and when is important. You also need to make the time you have together count: switch the TV off, have a romantic dinner (even if it’s at home) and simply be together. If you’re being resentful in the minutes you are together about the fact you can’t be together all the time, then you’re just wasting precious time and missing out even more.”
ISSUE 3: You’re consumed by the fact that your partner has close friends of the opposite sex
This one boils down to trust. If you trust your partner, it shouldn’t matter what gender his/her mates are. (If you’ve been cheated on before, that could be why your spidey senses are tingling – but those feelings have everything to do with your past, and nothing to do with your current relationship.
Jacqui says… “If you trust and respect your partner, can meet his/her friends now and then (like you would with anyone), can put yourself in your partner’s shoes? In other words, would you give up your friends of the opposite sex? If not, then you need to let it go. Of course if you never see your partner, and you suspect he is flirting or acting beyond your agreed boundaries then that’s another issue which goes back to the initial question – do you trust him/her?”
Issue 4: Your partner has done things in the past that really bother you – things that are morally / ethically wrong or criminal
For some, this would be an instant deal breaker. Others may feel everyone deserves a second chance – especially if your partner has changed.
Jacqui says… “The best relationships are when your top values (what you believe is important in life) align well. Although you don’t have to be exactly the same, if you and your partner differ wildly in what you think is right and wrong then you need to seriously consider if you’re the right fit together. You know what your deal breakers are, and if you constantly think about it and feel uncomfortable about it then you’ve got questions to answer as to whether you want to stay with your partner.”
Issue 5: You’re consumed by your partner’s sexual past – be it their ‘sexual tally’ or experiences
Maybe you can’t cope with the fact that your partner has slept with a certain number of people. Or perhaps you’d like to do things in bed that your partner isn’t into (and used to do with previous partners).
Jacqui says… “What’s done is done, and can’t be undone. Most people become sexually active in their teens, so unless you’re childhood sweethearts chances are your partner has done the deed with someone else. If there’s something you’d like to add to your sexual repertoire and your partner is reluctant to do so, then that’s the issue to focus on, not whether or not she’s done it in the past. You don’t own each other’s bodies, you are choosing to come together emotionally and sexually and if you keep getting upset about what s/he has done before you’ve even met, you’re playing a negative game that’s going to finish with both of you being losers.”
Have you had trouble letting go in regards to your partner’s past? Share your experiences in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.
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