“’We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”
– Rick Warren
Your relationship expert has so far taught you to handle the present, it is now time to deal with the past! Are your past experiences affecting your present relationship? This is the question that makes you wonder, hmmm…has it? Put that in the context of love and, is your past affecting your relationship? To start with, we are not just talking about past relationships that seemed perfect in the beginning but were destroyed by one thing or another. This is about if an individual’s current relationship is affected by their relations with parents, friends, their parent’s marriage, and of course past relationships. For many of us it’s a clear matter- obviously our childhood and parents relationship do matter in how we perceive our relationships, but many believe that rather than affecting our relationship, past memories ( particularly traumatized ones) tell us what no to do. Moreover, many don’t realize that their past relationships could be hurting their current one.
Going through bad relationships is a part of your life and an experience that makes you realize mistakes so we can learn and grow. However, when that realization struck, is different for different people. While it might be simple to see for some, might be difficult to perceive for others. Most believe that the ones who are strong pull through a bad relationship quickly and survive while the weak ones get destroyed or rather ‘allow’ themselves to be destroyed. It’s the matter of fact for some people that some deliberately don’t learn from past and continue from one bad relationship to another. Many genuinely believe that there is something inherently addictive about such pain that makes an individual intentionally pursue it. While this is a point open for debate, we all have heard stories about tragic yester year heroines getting into bad relationship after another. They are frankly too many to count – Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth etc. and almost all of these beauties had tragic past relationships with their partners, family and friends etc. So, of course we wonder why some would long for that kind of pain. So, is there a self-destructive trait among some that unconsciously make them go for the wrong one every time?
How can your childhood affect your relationship?
Just as mentioned above, the two American actresses in examples, Marilyn Monroe and most importantly Rita Hayworth are major cases of how a traumatic childhood can lead to bad relationships. In the case of Rita, it was her dad that exploited her, indirectly pushing her to get in a relationship with a 41 year car salesman, only while she was eighteen. Such incidents are unfortunately not uncommon. Childhood trauma does affect the way you perceive people and reach out for relationships that may or may be not for you.
The traumatized childhood is probably the most tragic of ways that affects relationships with not just your partner but everyone around you.
Fear of abandonment
“But like everything I have ever known, you will disappear one day and so I will spend whole life hiding my heart away”
People who have been left behind by their father or mother, have a fear of abandonment which leads to insecurity of not being ‘good enough’ to have a strong hold on people emotionally. Many of such people feel the need to cling on to their partners. Sometimes, they don’t think any relationship, even if it’s a significant one, wouldn’t last, so they are always on guard, mentally prepare to put a wall to shield them for the eventual break up. What many don’t realize that by metaphorically ‘hiding your heart away’ does more damage to their relationship.
“Momma never told me how to love, Daddy never told me how to feel”
Like the lyrics in Ashley Tisdale song suggest, distant parents can thoroughly affect the way you treat your spouse. People who have suffered from physically and emotionally unavailable moms and dads, or didn’t have anyone to care for them deeply or to have someone to dependent upon are many times “the lone wolf”. They can be too independent and fail to accept the love and care given to them (especially if the partner is clingy).
“Can’t you see, you smothering me, holding too tightly, afraid to lose control”
– Linkin Park (Numb)
People with too controlling parents, feel entitled to full freedom after they finally get out of house. They feel it stifling if a partner tells them what to do, even if the request is a modest one, they are less likely to compromise. On the other hand, some people who have been subjugated their whole life let other person walk all over them and feel the need to please people.
“Just gonna stand there and watch me burn, that’s all right, because I like the way it hurts”. “Just gonna stand there and hear me cry, that’s all right, because I love the way you lie.”
People with abusive childhood are most likely to mistrust anyone that they date. They fear letting their emotions show. If their parents were punitive, they feel as if even a little mistake deserves punishment.
“I’m tired of being what you want me to be, Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface”
– Linkin Park
People, who have always sought for their parent’s approval, relentlessly try to get better and better. Unfortunately, sometimes they expect their partners to be up to high standards that can damage a relationship.
“Even though I am the sacrifice, you won’t try for me not now”
People with slacking guardians, are usually one to pick up the pieces. This makes them independent, but also a little self-sacrificial, in a sense that they put others needs before their own and feel guilty if they do something for themselves.
How your parent’s marriages effect your relationship?
Just like childhood traits and memories can affect your love life, your parent’s marriage can also be a fitting example of how you are to perceive things in your love life. Divorce can affect a child heavily, and sometimes all throughout his/her life. Important things about relationships like trust, expectations, personality are developed at the tender age of childhood, a time when they look towards parents to set an example. Studies show that grown children of parents who have committed adultery are more likely to have an affair, as they have seen it in their own homes; they perceive it to be ‘normal’ thing. If the father is abusive and controlling of the mother, the child (particularly the son) is likely to behave in a same way. Of course, this is entirely subjective; many people have distrustful parents and yet go on to have an amazing love life. May be due to the lessons learnt from bad examples set by family members, who knows?
Effect of bad relationships on current relationship
Almost all of us go through bad break ups, heart aches, and painful memories and sometimes regret. The point of such painful memories is so you can learn from them, rise up and pull through.
Truthfully said, it is the ones who give more are likely to get hurt more. In contrast to what may appear as the ‘weaker’ one who falls in love unceremoniously without holding back, gets hurt when things go downhill. Wounds fresh in their minds, many go on to have relationships, where they are in full armor (emotionally), so as to not be disappointed again.
Bad relationships can also cause some to be fickle, if they have been cheated on previously. In such cases they do not invest themselves emotionally rather than choosing to be more physically involved so as to “correct” what they perceive as past ‘mistakes’. Bad relationships may also have an effect on how you perceive a potential date, unsurprisingly, regret in relationship can also factor into what you look for in potential boyfriend/girlfriend. If you have let go a “perfect” someone, chances are that you will comparing him/her to everyone you meet. Similarly, if you were in a bad relationship you will comparing for different reasons, here you will be setting standards to avoid a certain type of a date.
Bad relationships are the necessary stepping stones to learn from, of course to learn from them you need to acknowledge them and also realize what ‘you’ did wrong ( you can’t always be the victim in a relationship). By doing this you will find closure you need to heal and move on with your life.