When you decide to date someone, you’re not only committing to a relationship with who you see in front of you, you’re committing to their past too.
When you first start dating someone, you’re usually focused on things like their style, looks, hobbies, interests, and choice of career.
But then you get to know them better; you become familiar with their beliefs, goals, fears, joys, and ways of thinking.
To have a strong relationship, you have to accept the deeper, internal aspects of your partner. And there’s one question you can ask to get right to that good stuff: “How did your past shape how you experience relationships today?”
Your understanding of life happens as soon as you enter this world.
You see your parents walk around and make strange noises. Your little baby brains turn, and you attempt to do the same.
Then you grow up. You watch those closest to you move through life. Your behaviors, characteristics, thoughts, and often opinions are formed through these first relationships: your family.
You venture out into the world and learn the kind of life lessons that shape you into who you are. They’re not always good, but they’re all you know.
In romance, your understanding of love is shaped by the love you experienced.
You understand how love is given and received based on how parents interacted with you and your past relationships. And when those experiences are negative, they have a significant impact.
Maybe a parent abandoned you at a young age, creating the belief that love will always leave. Perhaps a lover cheated, and you lost trust. Maybe an emotionally abusive relationship formed the way you now accept romantic love.
Whatever your experience may be, it shaped how you see relationships today. It’s the reason a vast amount of research is done on adult relationships. That’s why people constantly talk about theories like love languages and attachment styles; they hold truth and insight.
That’s why understanding your partner’s unique past with romantic love is important.
Most people might suggest not talking about exes in a relationship. I’d argue that, done right, it’s very beneficial.
Imagine getting into a relationship with a new person. They continuously text you when you’re out; they never seem to believe you. You dismiss their behaviors of jealousy and mistrust as “crazy” or “annoying.” You never understand their behaviors come from the pain of being cheated on in the past.
Having an open conversation with your lover about their ex will help you understand why they act in these ways. You can support them while they maybe try to understand and work through beliefs that no longer serve them.
So if this concept has such a significant effect on the relationship, why is it that partners don’t talk about it more?
Having an open conversation about how you’ve been hurt in the past opens the relationship up to several results:
- Each person feeling understood by their partner
- A deeper connection
- Knowing the specific way in which to love one another
- Less of an emotional burner on one partner
- Healthy communication skills moving forward
Choosing to date someone should be about accepting all of them: what you see in the present and the parts you don’t see from their past.
Our past love shapes our present love. And that’s something that needs to be talked about more.