How To Get Your Relationship Out Of The Past
And consciously create a relationship that is in the present.
Why should you be present?
Every single person on the planet has pain in her path up to this moment. Everyone has dysfunction in her wake. In addition to the fact that we all need air, water and food to survive, we also share the simple truth that each of us are the sum total of our breaths and steps to this point. And, some of those breaths have been raspy and labored. And, some of those steps have been on broken glass.
Since time travel is still a theory, and you have absolutely no capability to change those breaths and steps, and since the next breaths and steps are neither guaranteed nor set in stone, there is a tiny sliver of “right now” that is truly yours to do with as you wish.
I used to say that my first girlfriend ruined me for all the rest. I gave myself the excuse to not be present in my subsequent relationships by blaming her for my mistrust of others. Seven relationships later, and now happily engaged, I realize how I cheated myself and those others by measuring everything against events that were decades old. Would I choose to drink water out of a dirty glass? Then, why would I choose to experience life from a perspective marred by the past. We don’t have eyes in the back of our head for a reason.
From my perspective, whether it’s a first date or your 20th anniversary, if she’s worthy of your time and attention, she is worthy of your presence. And, if you love her, your presence should be a given.
What keeps you from being present?
Betrayal in a previous relationship is most likely to set you up to be out of the moment in a current relationship. Your heart has been broken by infidelity or disloyalty or even abuse. You have been betrayed by an other whom you trusted. So, you frame your interactions in your current relationship through the eyes of mistrust. Emotional pain in our past can lay a minefield in our present, which creates emotional pain for others in an endless cycle.
How do you know when you aren’t being present?
Recognizing your lack of presence requires you to become an objective third-party observer of yourself and your responses in an instant. This takes practice and requires an ongoing non-judgmental internal dialogue of checks and balances. If your response and your emotions are out of proportion to the current moment, you aren’t present.
If you hear yourself repeating things you have said in previous relationships or you recognize a feeling that seems tied to a former girlfriend, then you are likely not fully present. If your desire to hurt the woman you claim to love outweighs your desire to communicate effectively and connect, you aren’t being present. Like a tattered, worn script that you keep in your back pocket, you refer to old words, feelings and actions when you are triggered by your past.
What can you do to quickly get present?
Here’s where it gets tricky. If you have the thought that you are not present, you have to act on that thought immediately. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Touch your nose with your index finger. Rub your hands together. Blink really fast. Tap your forehead. Drink a glass of water. Spin around in a circle. Do absolutely anything that works for you to re-set your brain to the moment. Sensory stimulation combined with deep breathing keeps your attention front and center. Once you have brought yourself back to the present, you give yourself and your partner a clean slate to address the issue at hand.
How can you maintain presence?
You are a human on planet earth in 2017 and likely reading this on some form of technology. It is almost impossible to stay completely present at all times. However, if drinking from a clean glass or creating a clean slate or gifting your presence to your love is important to you, you will find a way to do the daily work of focusing your energy and attention on the present. In addition to practicing that objective, non-judgmental observation of self, meditation, therapy, physical exercise, balanced nutrition and adequate rest all play a role in maintaining presence.
If she is important to you (and, if she’s not, then why are you with her?), you will work diligently to give her the most present version of yourself. And, the bonus is, you get the gift of your presence, too.