Past Relationship Carryover: When Your Current Partner Pays for What the Ex Did
by Dr. Randy Gilchrist, LDS Psychologist
www.LDSdimension.com (FREE LDS online dating site)
Unfortunately, after a former dating partner or spouse hurts a person greatly, there is a risk, if they are not careful and conscientious, of making the current relationship partner pay for and suffer for what the ex did. No, this is not fair, right, or even logical. Even worse, such inappropriate, paranoid overcorrection makes relationship sabotage a real risk and possibility. Many a good, promising, new relationship has fallen apart from the scars from exes resurfacing and ruining things.
Why This Happens: Being Snakebitten
To be snakebitten means “to feel cursed, extremely unlucky or destined to fail at anything you try” (Urban Dictionary), “having or experiencing failure or bad luck; unlucky” (Merriam-Webster), or “doomed to misfortune” (Oxford Dictionary). The concept makes sense. Imagine walking out in your front yard and being bitten by a passing rattlesnake. It is extremely painful and the physical recovery afterwards also takes a long time. How do you think you will then approach walking out in your front yard next time? Probably careful, tense, anxious, worried, paranoid, even panicked. You may even avoid the yard altogether for wa while. Even though the risks of the current yard (no snake) are safe compared to the previous yard, the emotional and psychological scars and fear remain.
So in dating, when a person experienced intense pain or failure in a previous relationship, they are at risk of carrying those scars into the new relationship as an over corrective attempt to prevent the same hurt and pain from repeating with the new person. Being relationally “snakebitten”. The problem is, the new person isn’t the old person, and the new person is usually innocent from the old problems and hasn’t acted that way. Examples of relationship carryover effects include jealousy, insecurity, paranoid arguments and accusations, starting fights when nothing is wrong (making mountains out of mole hills), a constant need for reassurance, testing the other person’s loyalty, and so on. Such actions can and often do sabotage the new, promising relationship.
How to Minimize Carryover Effects
To overcome past scars and to prepare for a future relationship—or to try to prevent sabotaging the new relationship you are currently in—there are a several things you can do to improve:
1) Go to a qualified, licensed psychotherapist--either a psychologist or a marriage & family therapist--to work through your past pain and trauma. Ask the therapist specifically to help heal and prepare for a new healthy relationship.
2) Read, listen to, or watch some quality self-help materials to help you get over your past pain, as well as to help prepare you for a healthy future relationship. Some quality materials to consider include the following:
The Complex PTSD Workbook by Schwartz (for childhood trauma)
The PTSD Workbook by Williams (for any trauma—relational or otherwise)
Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life by Spradlin (controlling emotions after past relational abandonment or trauma)
Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman (a research-based book clarifying what kind of relationship interactions will lead to future marital success or failure)
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray (the greatest selling relationship book of all time, helping you to understand gender differences and the opposite sex)
Drawing on the Powers of Heaven by Von Harrison (how to effective gain access to spiritual help and assistance for relief and support)
3) Get yourself together spiritually. This consists of regularly reading your scriptures/conference talks, praying, attending 3 hours of church each Sunday, fulfilling your church callings, and attending the temple (or at least living a temple worthy life). Also, as needed, meet with your bishop for guidance and perhaps a blessing.
Please do not expect time passing alone to help you heal. That could take a long, long time. Also, please do not date in the hopes that the new partner helping you heal. You alone are responsible to proactively, assertively, and consistently work on yourself to overcome your trauma, wounds, and scars. It is not someone else’s responsibility. Please consider all three of these ideas to ready yourself for future relational success, health, and happiness. You were meant to succeed and eventually have a thriving marriage. Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).
INFO FOR READERS--
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|2018-06-25||Randy Gilchrist||Healthy relationships|
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to email@example.com. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to firstname.lastname@example.org).