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Putting The Past Behind You: How and How Much To Reveal About Your Past

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Once upon a time going steady implied marriage and it was more likely than not to marry your high school sweetheart. Today, both men and WOMEN are obtaining not only college degrees, but advances degrees, their own independence via job, apartment, etc., and putting off tying the matrimonial knot until their mid to late 20s and many into their early thirties.

While that may not be news enough to “rattle your world” the next statement or realization brought to light may be. You both have to accept that neither of you were each other’s first (first crush, first love, first anything). In fact, most couples can probably claim a past they may not necessarily be willing to expose to their partner, and both (of you) may at some point have to grapple with the idea that your beloved may have liked something about someone else than he/she does about you, and may even find yourself secretly wondering about your partner’s ex(es) and how you compare.

While discretion is certainly the better part of valor, most modern couples are often inclined to get it all out in the open, leaving no room for any (unexpected) surprises. Experts assert that while understanding your partner also means understanding his/her past, dealing with the past may often be a very delicate and sensitive issue. They offer the following advice.

Haunting Memories: I have a girlfriend, who, despite meeting the love of her life, just couldn’t seem to shake thoughts of an ex from a long time ago. These unexplained, “unwanted” thoughts continued to haunt her until she gave birth to her first child, upon which they “miraculously” disappeared. According to experts my girlfriend is not alone. In fact, professionals point out that the past, while often long gone, is frequently NOT forgotten. It is after all a part of OUR life, OUR past, and OUR memories. Moreover, experts suggest that dealing with the past may also mean dealing with unresolved disappointment (in ourselves or others), and many memories (both good and bad) of ex-lovers and perhaps broken and shattered hopes and dreams (especially those associated with our “carefree” youth).

While most (professionals) agree that there is nothing wrong with reflecting (occasionally) on the past (even fondly) and discussing it with your partner (and how it helped shape you), they also agree that it’s essential to get to the point where you can effortlessly remain neutral and unaffected by it. They suggest letting go of your past (to the degree to which it’s affecting your present and future), instead of clinging to it and to the feelings attached to it. If you are inclined to talk about the past, downplay the role of your ex-lover and ALWAYS do it in a way that lifts up your current partner and the special relationship you share. Furthermore, learn to live in the present and focus on the merits “this” relationship and time in your life has to offer, and rejoice in it.

2. Letting The Past Destroy The Future: While it may not be your intention to use your past as a weapon, most of us often do. We compare and contrast, especially in the heat of anger, often at the expense of our (current) partner, and often in a way intended to make them look and feel bad. Experts suggest, that before making reference to the past, evaluating your motives. They note that instead of relying on looking back to solve your “problems”, look at the present and the future and work together on achieving those goals.

3. Be Direct: Afraid of being honest or showing vulnerability, experts suggest that many, (jaded from the past), make the mistake of camouflaging their compliments. They offer compliments in the form of degredating the past, and noting how much better the present is. Besides confusing your partner, experts suggest that these backhanded compliments are detrimental to your living in the present and appreciating your current situation for all that it is and has to offer.

4. Use Discretion: The purpose of divulging and sharing your past is to give confidence to your partner about your present and future and to reassure him/her about your intentions, you trustworthiness, your reliability, lover etc. It is by no means meant to dig up old skeletons, especially when there’s no need to. While it’s best to be completely honest with your partner, sometimes, less (said) is more. He or she will get the general picture without you spelling it out for them and perhaps giving them a negative mental image. Experts note, that the only reason to be “explicit” is if it’s crucial (such as any health issues that should and MUST be divulged…though you may want to refrain from the “gory” details), or when you feel it will enhance your current relationship

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