Why Are You Obsessing About Your Partner’s Past?

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We all have a past. When two people come together and try to form a relationship, the experiences gained by both play a role.  How much of a role depends greatly on the people concerned and the experiences they gained. If trust issues are present or have been brought into the relationship, the past suddenly becomes all-important. If you are looking for reasons to trust or distrust, here lies a body of work to reference.

Patterns of commitment and behavior can be seen or evaluated. Of course, this is important if abuse has taken place or there might be a suspicion of criminal activity. This is then useful information. However, when a person’s past becomes an obsession then the secure basis needed for the relationship to blossom can become shaky. The old saying goes that the past should be seen as irrelevant, that the present and the future are the most important. The sentiment is nice but slightly unrealistic.  As humans we are an extremely curious species, we want to know everything and we want to know everything and we want security and reassurance. Most of all, we want to ‘own’ the new person we have found. We want to be sure that they were never as happy as now, with us. We want to know that they are having the best love life, the better foundation, more hope. The bottom line is… we want to know that we are “The One”, “The Special One” that they have never experienced.  This is a natural feeling and of course, feeling special in someone’s life is indeed extremely pleasurable. However, this need can turn to almost an addiction that can lead to such irrational behavior as checking social media, phones and email looking for answers and reassurance.  Additionally, “tests” may be set that need to be passed. We need to have an iron clad guarantee that things will work in the way we hope. Instead of reassurance, often insecurity follows.  Look hard enough and you will always find something. The fact is that we often look to our partner’s past to deal with our own trust issues.

Have we made the right decision? Is this person our latest disappointment to bear? Is there evidence that points towards our often-bad experiences being repeated? We need to make sure. 100% sure.

Unfortunately, when we do this we fail to factor in elements that could bring balance. What is the current evidence that we have? If the relationship is mostly good, do we recognize that? Secondly, do we keep in mind that people can change and mistakes are commonplace and “human”? Are we setting standards and expectations on our partner that, for protection, are too high or unmanageable? If you are feeling insecure in your relationship, look at your own issues first – Are you working on experience and not real evidence?

Unfortunately, these insecurities can ruin a relationship before it really gets going. The paradox is that often we are only obsessed with a partner’s past because we have deep feelings for them generally and fear of truly committing ourselves is the reason.  There is a concept that many buy into of ‘Relationship OCD’. This is, similar to how we understand OCD an obsession towards everything being regulated and in its place. This may explain the obsessions with the past of someone you plan to have a relationship with.

However, whatever the reason and label we decide to put on this, everyone has a past and what right do we have to judge the actions of others when we are not prepared to look at ourselves? Especially when those events happened long before we were in the picture. Obsessions about a person’s past say more about the one obsessing than the one being obsessed about. If this is an issue for you, you have a straight choice to make. Work on yourself to put these intrusive thoughts into perspective or leave. However, the problem will likely follow.

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Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner's approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients' internal "parts," or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.

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