Unpack Your Emotional Suitcases
Posted by Girls Guide To on July 30, 2012 at 9:00 PM
I don’t care how much you're over your ex or how many years it’s been since you broke up, your romantic history has a funny (in a sick and twisted way) tendency of creeping into life with your new partner. No matter how you try to avoid it, certain things are going to come up and trigger old issues to flare up like a bad allergic reaction. Hello, baggage. The truth is, the relationships we invest in the most, no matter of how long we were in them or how long ago they happened, have the biggest impact on us. And if things went bad in those relationships (which is most likely since you’ve broken up), we often carry the anger or insecurity into our following flings.
So how do you prevent the past from coming back to haunt you? Claim your baggage by coming clean to your current guy (sparing him the dirty details, of course). According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, people experienced a heightened sense of intimacy after revealing personal info and felt more valued and supported. Not to mention, it can help your guy understand the reasons why you act the way you do and can even prevent issues from coming up between you. So go ahead and unpack those bags the right way by following this advice.
If Your Ex Cheated on You…
It’s a sad truth, but almost anything your guy does that's not completely straightforward will evoke feelings of distrust. And it’s probably not anyone’s fault. But you can avoid some pretty bad behaviors by coming clean. People who were cheated on in the past may find themselves setting traps and checking on their new partner, asking them questions they know the answers to, and assuming their partner is lying. You may end up jumping down his throat and accusing him of stuff he hasn’t even done, which may understandably infuriate him and threaten the relationship.
Unpack it: Make it clear that while your trust issues have nothing to do with him, you equate his vagueness with being lied to. Tell him that because of your past, you assume the worst when he's unclear, even if there’s nothing to base your insecurities on. Explain that keeping you in the loop and being specific will go a long way toward helping you feel more connected and secure while you work to decrease your insecurities over time. This will translate into more happiness for you both!
Your Last Guy Had a Bad Temper
Anyone who's dated a yeller and screamer is going to want to avoid confrontation in a subsequent relationship because let’s face it, no one wants a nasty fight breaking out. Instead of understanding that conflict is an important part of all relationships, someone who had an angry partner might see disagreements as a sign the relationship is headed for trouble. But anger is a necessary emotion, and both parties need to be able to express it appropriately.
Unpack it: Accept your anger—and his. What's important is how you disagree, not whether you disagree. Rather than recoiling or biting your tongue during a disagreement, step back and take a break. Seriously, get away and regroup and encourage your guy to do the same. This will defuse some of the hostility, giving you a more comfortable environment to air your grievances.
Your Ex Criticized Your Looks
First of all, what an a-hole. It's easy to understand how someone who was called ugly or fat-assed by an ex might have trouble accepting a new dude's compliments. Because romantic relationships carry such powerful meaning and weight—and because a romantic partner sees you without your clothes on—criticism within the context of intimacy can be so, so damaging. These comments can cut you to the core. And it’s not just about accepting compliments: If a past partner made disparaging remarks about your weight, you may feel uncomfortable eating in front of your new man or showing off your body, which may cause you to avoid sex and intimacy altogether.
Unpack it: Know that your ex's slams were much more about him than you. Anyone who insults or criticizes a partner in this way is massively insecure and is making a desperate attempt to cover up a deep sense of inferiority. Translation: He may not have thought those things about you, but felt compelled to cut you down to prop himself up. Again, he’s an a-hole. To make sure you take your new guy's loving words to heart, stop yourself from dismissing his praise and affection. Say thanks and mean it. Eventually it’ll sink in.
You Dated a Partyer
Because your last boyfriend left you high and dry to booze it up with his buddies, you may become clingy, bossy, or prone to nagging your new guy—in other words, a pretty big buzzkill. You could even become a teetotaler, choosing to avoid parties and any social scenario where alcohol is involved because of your ex and his habits.
Unpack it: Before you bust out the at-home Breathalyzer, take a moment to analyze the situation rationally. How many times did he go out this week? Two? And where was he the other nights? With you? Sounds like a guy who has his priorities straight.
And remind yourself that a person who likes to go out and party with his friends doesn't necessarily have a problem. In fact, it's totally normal behavior, provided it doesn't happen all the time and he's not coming home and passing out on the bathroom floor on a regular basis.