Why It's So Important To Respect Your Previous Relationships — Even When You're In A New One That's Going Really Well

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Contributor
Love, Self

We are all hoarders of people — we collect them as we go through life. We lose ourselves in the maps of their minds, bury ourselves in the density of their dreams, and warm ourselves with the embers of their embrace.

Sometimes we grow into a completely separate person from who we were in the beginning of a relationship. And then, when things go sour and the relationship ends, we tell ourselves we’ve disposed of the memories. But still we visit them there, when we need a hard slap of memory to protect us from the repetition of our errors, or when we need the cool ointment of memory to sooth the burn of regret.

We are all hoarders of people. When we tuck one away, we will find another. Someone kinder, gentler. Someone with the strength to carry our baggage, and someone in whom we find the strength to carry theirs.

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And all of these people we love stay with us. They’ve hurt, loved and changed us, and us them.

It is a natural impulse to comfort your new partner by dismissing your old one. We attack their looks, or their ability to love, their prowess, and everything else about them. But by doing so aren’t we just disrespecting ourselves?

Disrespecting our past choices? Disrespecting our memories?

I want to explore the idea of what would happen if we speak respectfully of our past lovers. If we only could refer to them in the same way we would a memory from childhood. A happy memory in which we rode our bike too quickly down a hill or drank hot coco without allowing it time to cool off. A story in which we made a mistake that taught us a lesson; a story in which we regard whimsically.

If we allow the true memory of our exes to exist in the same world where they are no longer the objects of our love, I think we can love our current partners more honestly and love ourselves more wholly.

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When entering a new relationship, we are different people then we were when we started a past relationship.

There is a common saying, “You never forget your first love”. I think we all feel like our first loves were different than others, because we went into them so openly. We don’t go into those relationships with baggage or fear. We dive in, headfirst, unafraid of the depths and the dangers hidden beneath them.

As we grow and learn to have second loves and third loves, larger pieces of hearts are being closed off. We understand what it’s like to hurt. And even though no one ever teaches us to do so, we learn to disguise our pain and hatred. We compete with our exes to see which of us can turn the other into the worst person.

All of the pain that we never deal with, and the hate that we garden takes up more and more room in our hearts, so we have less to love with each time.

What if, instead, we kept our wounds open? What if we welcomed our new partners to experience these parts of us? These parts that were once occupied by someone else?

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We allow them to see our past loves, and the parts of us that still keep them. We allow them to occupy these spaces together. It's the only way to truly love someone with your whole self.

Give your new partner and your new relationship the parts of you that hurt without condemnation. Let your partner love every past experience you’ve had. Then love them back with all you’ve learned, all you’ve hurt.

We are all hoarders of people. We pick them up and drop them into piles of not enoughs and unrealized forevers. It is time to finally go through these piles of hatred and regret and sort them into boxes of lessons learned and sweet memories. You will find yourself with an open heart, where there’s room for new chapters, happy endings, and next first loves.

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Kaitlin Kaiser is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.