A question I was asked recently was about the apparent need for a fiancé to continue to contact previous girlfriends. It went something like this:
“I wonder why my fiancé can’t get over with his past relationships. We’ve been together for two years and I recently found out that he was trying to reach his ex-girlfriends. It hurt me so much. I wasn’t expecting that he was the one who took the first move. We had a fight over this. The conversation was so nasty. Is it my fault? Or am I just insecure or jealous?”
I was saddened to read this as it seems to come up again and again for couples. I think the real culprit here is simply that some people, despite the fact that they no longer are in a relationship, have not yet really finished their business in those former relationships. And interestingly this can even be the case for the person who initiated the ending of the relationship in the first case.
So let’s take a closer look at what this might actually be about. As you are growing up the way you are treated by your parents and other close family, together with your observations of others in relationship, shapes the way you become as an adult in your relationships. This shaping defines what you do, think, feel and say and how you present yourself to the world.
My theory is that the resulting beliefs directs us to fall in love with people who on the surface may appear quite different from us but who underneath we unconsciously know will reaffirm the beliefs we already have about ourselves, others and relationships.
We then go on in one of two ways. We will both embrace the differences, as opportunities for learning, and take on some of those qualities becoming more whole in terms of the options we now have for responding to life’s events. The other option is that we turn against those differences as we become more fixed in our own opinions.
The problem with this is that you don’t learn anything from the experience. And as you stand fixedly in your position you run the risk of losing the relationship as the conflict between you will invariably escalate.
So what has this to do with what so often happens in future relationships?
Well there is a reason why you are attracted to all the people who come into your life. If you have finished your business with them you are more likely to come to the conclusion that you are simply not ever going to be well-matched. You can then step away from that part of your life and truly move on as you embark on another, hopefully more healthy, relationship.
The alternative is that you simply walk away from the relationship as a reaction to whatever was going on, or not going on, without ever really having learned or rationally made any sense of what actually happened and why.
You leave still angry and then go into another relationship unresolved to the previous one. Why then would you not still be attracted to those from earlier relationships as the opportunities for growth are still to be found there if only you open your eyes to it.
So for the new partner there may indeed be a sense of disconnection from this person. And while there is still some unfinished business for the other, there is also something for the new partner to learn as well. It might feel like jealousy or insecurity, and maybe the other person might like you to wear the responsibility for what might not be working in your relationship so they don’t have to. But this actuality may not be yours entirely.
The way through this is to take responsibility for what is yours, and your thoughts and feelings are your responsibility, to come to accept that you are OK. Your partner also has to take responsibility for their thoughts and feelings; to figure out what it is that s/he needs to learn to truly be able to put that old stuff aside once and for all so they can focus fully, without any distraction, on the current relationship.
So until next time – Relate with Love