Ghosts from the Past Play Tricks on Your Relationship


Without realizing it, memories from the past can get triggered and interfere with your relationship.

Relationships are wonderful but can also be tricky.  Certainly, there are the usual difficulties of spats or communication issues.  Over the last 25 years as a relationship expert, I’ve also come to see the impact that implicit memories have on partnerships.

Let me explain a bit.  We all have things that happen to us in our past that, though we don't remember, still impact how we react today.  Our buttons get pushed.  When this happens, you don’t even realize that it’s something from the past … it feels like it’s happening now.  So you get emotional about whatever situation you're in or the person you're with thinking that's the cause.

So when you're in a relationship with a significant other, it becomes even more complicated.  You're more likely to be more vulnerable when you’re with this person; you’re more likely to get hurt.  After all, this is the person with whom you've let your guard down and gotten emotionally involved.

Therefore, it’s very likely that your mate will say (or not say) or do (or not do) something that will remind you of your past.  He or she, of course, doesn’t realize it.  The truth is … neither do you.  But boom – all of a sudden, you are very hurt and you shut down, or cry, or attack your partner. (There are ways to change your wired-in patterns!)

Let me give you a concrete example.  You and your partner have been planning a day out.  You're going to take a long drive and have a picnic.  You've prepared a wonderful basket full of all sorts of yummies.  Your mate comes in and asks why you didn't include some cheese and crackers. You get unbelievably upset, attack your partner for not saying anything, refuse to accept an apology, and the day is ruined! 

Sure, it might not have been necessary for him to make the comment.  Or, offering a compliment about what a great job you did would have been terrific.  But this is an over-reaction to a simple remark especially since it lasts the entire day.  Therefore, there’s a good chance this has really set off a feeling from the past; perhaps you had a parent who was very critical or who never offered any positive feedback.

Implicit memories are more likely to occur in partnerships.  As a matter of fact, each partner can have them.  So, it’s important to be aware that they might be occurring and learn how to work on them in order to make your relationship the best it can be!

To your Empowered Self,
Dr. Karen

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.