Past Relationships Affecting Present Ones

Two people holding hands

Are you fed up of your past relationships affecting your present ones? Is it a mystery as to why you keep picking people that bring up the same struggles in you? It’s quite common, it happens because unconsciously that’s what you’re used to and attract. 

Accepting What’s Happened in Past Relationships

The lady described a number of situations that had happened in her past. Specifically with her relationships and how in the present she was still struggling with things like trust, needing to be right, to be heard. I can certainly relate to those things, can you?

What I said to her was that when we aren’t dealing with things at the time, they come up later. Often we can portray a very strong front, dust ourselves off and get on with things. Ultimately, what that is saying is that I can’t face this and I may not cope so I’m going to bury it. 

You may possibly feel like you don’t want to waste your time going over something you can’t change, or that you have children to focus on and have to keep it together for them.

Whatever the justification, the end result is that you aren’t accepting and dealing with what’s happened. Often people say they accept it, but their behaviour doesn’t match that acceptance. 

Fast forward to the present day and you’re in a relationship but it’s difficult. Your own insecurities are rising to the surface and the same issues rear their ugly head. I see it all the time and this just demonstrates the problems haven’t been accepted and/or let go of. 

Past Relationships Affecting Present Ones

How Past Relationships Affect Your Present Ones

What then happens is you tile the person you’re in a relationship with as if they’re the same as someone in the past. They’re not and you know that but you can’t help it. 

The problems you have whether that’s being heard, being right, trusting, having attention will still be an issue.  A lot of people I speak to tend to say “I suppose it’ll just work itself out” or “It’ll be OK I just need some space”.  Again, for me this is an avoidance. You have a choice, you can keep doing what you’ve already been doing or try something new. 

Imagine this, you are building a bed and you keep reading the instructions but the bed just isn’t going together quite right. You sleep on it and it’s an uncomfortable sleep. You carry on because you tell yourself it’ll be OK and you’ll get used to it. You don’t and it makes your sleep disturbed. Then you feel grouchy and take it out on others.  

This goes on for a while and finally you think to yourself, I’m really not comfortable with this bed I need to sort it out. Only because it’s got so bad you’ve basically been pushed into a corner.

You could just change the bed and get a new one, that would be one solution but it doesn’t solve what’s the matter with it. 

Finally you decide to get some help and ask someone else, they look at it  with you and you have a completely different perspective on how you put it together. Hey presto… it’s fixed!

Albeit a very simplistic analogy, I hope you can see the parallels. Sometimes we just need some help with things to get a different perspective and we can’t always do everything ourselves.

You can ignore things and hope they’ll go away, rarely that is the case. It will start affecting you in ways you may not consciously be aware of. 

Past Relationships Affecting Present Ones

Dissolving Past Issues

I’m a big fan of working with your inner child, that child in you that is hurt, the one with the insecurities. It’s likely they stem back before previous relationships but it’ll be coming from your past. 

Not a lot of people know or work with their inner child, ultimately we’re children walking around in adult bodies. 

I bet for most we can trace our present challenges with something from our past. So what can you do about it?

There are a lot of things you can do, as a starting point here are my suggestions:

  • When you’re in a situation in a relationship – let’s say being heard is the issue*. Stop what you’re doing, thinking and feeling and sit quietly. Imagine your younger you and ask “What do you need? What’s making you feel unheard?” Getting some space with you and the situation in the present is helpful.  Maybe your inner child feels she wasn’t heard by your parents, caregiver or someone else? Simply reassure her, give her what she needs in that moment. Then you’re in a better place to respond in the present situation.
  • Have some set phrases when you get in repetitive situations, e.g. “give me a moment to think about that”, “I need to come back to you”. 
  • Having some space from the problem can be really helpful if that’s possible. Use your set phrases that you have prepared. Take some deep breaths and work with your inner child.
  • Avoid using texts or email to convey your thoughts and feelings, if they’re often misinterpreted or negatively add to the situation.

*If you aren’t sure why your feeling the way you are  or what you’re feeling, then you need to sit quietly and just see what comes to mind. Notice anything happening in your body, pains or sensations. There are layers with our emotions and feelings.

Initially it maybe someone upsetting you, ask yourself “what specifically is upsetting me about …” keep asking yourself that until you get to the real problem.  Replace the word “Upsetting” with what’s relevant each time you go through another layer. 

Remember you’re human and in relationships we get things wrong, it’s normal. It’s what we do with them that matters. 


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