7 Signs He's Projecting His Past Relationships Onto You (And It's TOXIC)

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signs he's projecting onto you

Have you ever gotten the feeling that your man is looking at you but he's not seeing you? It could very well be that he's seeing every other woman he's ever been in a relationship with.

Our relationship experiences always teach us something so that we know better next time, but what if your guy still hasn't moved on from the past? Every problem that arose in his past relationships would come up again in yours. The ghosts of his past girlfriends would be projected onto you.

Here are seven signs he's projecting onto you that you shouldn't ignore.

1. He has selective hearing.

When you talk to him, he hears what he wants to hear. He'll take bits and pieces of what you say and turn your original meaning into something totally different that fits what he's used to hearing.

If you're a pretty chill person, he might still perceive you as high-maintenance because that’s the kind of woman he's used to. For example, no matter how many times you sincerely say that you are actually feeling "fine," he'll insist that you aren't.  

2. He doesn't see you as your own person.

Every individual has unique qualities, but if your guy is projecting his past relationships onto you, he doesn't see you as such. Instead, he sees you as an amalgamation of every other girl he's dated in the past.

He has gotten into the habit of making generalities, like "All women are dramatic" or "All women are extremely jealous." He creates an interpretation of you in his mind that is different from who you actually are, and then acts on his assumptions.   

3. He expects history to repeat itself.

As much as he may be interested in you or even love you, he still hangs on to the idea that this relationship will turn out like all the others. He has unresolved issues regarding his past girlfriends, and those issues continue to bleed through to his current one. If he’s been cheated on, he’ll show an insecurity about you possibly cheating on him when that’s something you would never do.   

4. He overreacts.

If he’s been particularly hurt or even traumatized by a previous partner, he is likely to overreact if something you say or do hits that nerve. That’s what psychologists refer to as a "trigger." It’s a natural human reaction, but it can also be a relationship ruiner. You may be able to help him through it and have this happen less and less over time, but then again, you may not.  

5. He treats every argument the same way.

Whenever you have an argument, he automatically defaults to the same reaction. Maybe he just immediately shuts down. Maybe he instantly assumes he knows exactly what you’re going to say. Whatever it is, he decides that he already knows the outcome of the argument because he’s argued with other women before.

But everyone treats disagreements differently. Instead of being vindictive and yelling, you may be a reasonable woman who wants to calmly solve the problem. But that won't matter because he already has a preset thought pattern that thinks you're crazy, which is one of the major signs he's projecting onto you.

6. He references his exes more than he should.

It’s natural and even healthy to talk about previous relationships — up to a certain point, that is. It's good to understand where your partner is coming from and what kind of experience he's had with love in the past, but you don’t want to be hearing about his exes all the time. If you find that he references them a little too often, then it’s a sign that there’s still something about those relationships he's continually preoccupied with.

7. He puts up a wall.

The best part about being in a relationship with someone is getting close to them. Sometimes, however, people will only allow another person to get so close, no matter how many months they've spent together or how many times they’ve slept together.

If you sense that he’s somewhat detached or emotionally hard to reach, it’s a sign that he doesn’t want to let you into a certain place in his heart — a place he’s been hurt before. Most if not all of us have some kind of wall inside, but what matters is what we decide to do with it. If he’s not willing to work with you to help tear it down, then he’s always going to be projecting his past and his insecurities on you.


We can all learn from our past relationships, but watch the video below for advice on why you should NOT bring up the past in your current situation:


Taylor Markarian graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in Writing, Literature & Publishing. She is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about about music, lifestyle, culture, the arts, entertainment, and literature. Check out her LinkedIn and her website.

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