So let’s say you are in a long-term relationship with the guy or girl of your dreams. Or, let’s say you are trying to rekindle an old relationship or you’re in a situation with someone whom you have a lot of history with, but you keep sensing some things just aren’t the same. In many ways it may seem that a lot of stuff from the past no longer exists in your relationship and you wonder if you can ever go back.
Yes, relationships change, shift, flip flop, tables turn, hearts get broken, trust gets lost, betrayal happens and we still find it in our hearts to stay true to our commitments. Or, we realize we love someone enough to overlook the past and to stay together.
But, sometimes when things don’t quite fall back into the way they were, we panic. We worry that maybe this is the end, or that this was really not meant to be, and that we should move on. We fear that the change means that something really great was lost.
Just because the present doesn’t mimic the past doesn’t mean all is lost.
See, we live in a world where we want certain things to last forever. We rekindle but something is amiss. We miss the way it used to be, the way it used to feel. One of the problems is that we are even sold this view of “happily ever after,” which if we think about it, we know is an unfortunate fallacy. The reason being is that change is the only constant, right? We’ve all heard that saying … change is the only thing we can count on.
Often times, things change for the better. Some things change for the better, some things change for the worse. Sometimes we like the new things happening in our relationship and/or in our partner. We like the newfound responsibility, or self care, but maybe we miss the old camaraderie, the way we used to run around like kids without a care in the world, the way he used to shower me with flowers or kisses or the way she used dress. We miss the past, and in doing so, we end up living in the past.
Relationships, just like the people involved, go through phases. In different phases of our lives we have different friends, different jobs, different feelings, etc. You know that experience of having a certain friend during a certain period of your life? Where did that friend go? Often times we fall out of friendships because of something circumstantial, we just drift apart or we move.
Sometimes it’s more; a falling out, a disagreement, a broken agreement, etc. We learn to get over the loss and to grieve the end of the friendship or relationship. In much the same way, we must learn to let go of what our relationship was and accept our relationship for where it is now.
Change is especially apparent after major life changes, such as marriage, the birth of a new baby, a job change/loss, infidelity, death in the family, etc. Part of being in a relationship is saying goodbye to the past phases of our relationships, letting go of the past and embracing what is now, the present. You may become overcome by this feeling of, “I feel like I don’t even know my partner anymore.”
The truth of the matter is that you are still getting to know your partner, at every phase of his/her life, just as he/she is getting to know parts of you. Also, the both of you are getting to know yourselves and each other in the relationship.
Accepting change, that things don’t stay the same forever, is par for the course. Sometimes you may not like the changes that happen, as they may confuse you and not seem to fit. How you learn to navigate the changes may determine the future of the relationship. Your relationship is built on the past, and where it grows from there into the future depends on your dedication to the present.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 May 2012
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Experts, Y. (2012). Embracing A New Relationship With an Old Flame. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/05/25/embracing-a-new-relationship-with-an-old-flame/