All of us had past relationships that we’d like to forget about. They’re the ones with the people we dated, or just hooked up with, who were just so wrong for us that we can’t believe we chose to spend time with them in the first place. Or, they’re the relationships that were once loving, but ended, too painful to recall.
No matter what your romantic past looks like, it’s important to remember it as you continue on your dating journey—even if you’d prefer not to. The bonds you forged and the relationships you built will come in handy the next time a potential Mr. or Ms. Right comes along. Here are four key ways your past will enable you to date smarter and find someone truly special in the future.
1. You’ll Know What You Want (and Don’t Want) in a Partner
When you dive deep into the characteristics of past loves, you can cull the parts of these people you really cherished or sublimely disliked. You may even be inspired to make a wish list of the qualities your ideal partner would have. Things like, “encourages my passions” or “is compassionate toward animals” are a few examples. Too often, we focus only on superficial qualities or forget the characteristics we desire in a partner when someone sweeps us off our feet. Being clear about what you want, via your past, can help you stay focused when finding the best possible match for you.
2. You’ll Better Understand Your Choices and Actions
In different relationships, we are different people. Of course, we are always the same core person, but we may try on slightly different personalities and we may see various idiosyncrasies emerge depending on who we date. Mining your past allows you to typify and understand who you were and why so you can be the best version of yourself in the future. For instance, you may have been super argumentative with a certain partner or too meek for your liking with another. Digging into why and how can be a valuable learning experience.
3. You’ll Know When to Walk Away
Chances are, you’ve stayed in certain relationships well beyond their expiration dates. We all do it. The more you look into your past, however, the better you can see why you may have stayed in a certain relationship even though you knew deep down it was over. Once you recognize the signs of demise in your past, you’ll be better at identifying them in the future. This keeps you from wasting your time with lovers who just aren’t right for you in the long run.
4. You’ll Understand That the Honeymoon Doesn’t Last Forever
For some people, a relationship gets stale after the initial attraction period has faded and the real work begins. However, as you look into your past, you’ll see that the honeymoon period does have an expiration date. While you may always feel attracted to your partner, you will experience conflict and disappointment too. That’s just part of having a relationship. Examining past bonds normalizes this process. It also keeps you from feeling frustration in the future when you stop seeing your lover through rose-colored glasses. You’ll be able to know the difference between someone you can love over the long term, despite disagreements you might have, and someone that you can’t.