My partner won’t let go of the past

What do you do when one person is so affected by their past they are making the relationship unbearable to be in?

Some people shut down secretly building resentment, some bring up the old problem at every opportunity and some just feel wrong but don’t know why and this can lead to depression, anxiety and stress.

To be clear some people are very aware of what they are doing and some people have hidden patterns affecting them based on past events.

Sometimes it’s so easy for everyone around them to see the problem yet the person is blind to how they are hurting themselves and those they love.

This is why some couples require individual support as part of the couple’s process because these patterns can be very powerful and if they’re not re-patterned to be healthy they can affect the persons’ whole life.

  • Some people can be affected by a past trauma that’s nothing to do with the relationship.
  • Some are affected by something that happened in the relationship which broke their trust.
  • Some struggle due to a problem not connected to the relationship, but it happened whilst they were together.
  • Some are affected by the events before the relationship and the relationship re-enforces the old pattern but neither person is aware.

A persons’ mind is designed to protect them from harm, but in many cases, the way it try’s to protect them actually makes the problems worse.

For example, if someone is suffering due to a break of trust, if the attachment to that time was painful the person may want to control the relationship to avoid connecting to that pain again.

Whatever the persons experienced they will create behaviours that are designed to protect themselves. Unfortunately, those behaviours are not designed to also protect the relationship.

In fact, any person in a relationship who on any level is protecting themselves from their partner is NOT going to be feeding the relationship what it needs to survive so it can be slowly dying and the couple won’t spot the danger.

I see many couples who have suffered from this hidden erosion which can lead the couple into the fight of their lives.

So if a person is holding onto the past it’s because on some level they believe that letting go of it will not work out well for them.

One lady held onto her husbands’ affair for 25 years. His affair stopped 25 years ago and for him, it was a different lifetime. For her, she kept it alive within her to keep herself safe from future harm, after all, he might do it again or she really might be his second choice.

Unfortunately, years of suffering in silence killed her love for him because you can’t keep love alive within you if you’re protecting yourself from the person you are trying to love.

Not letting go of the past is a significant problem and will affect how a person thinks and feels.

In general, women do suffer from this a little more than men, but the reasons both men and women hold onto the past makes total sense once you understand why, but they will need help to correct the unhealthy pattern.

The reason the pattern is unhealthy is because it dramatically affects that persons ability to truly be who they are and that in itself is a problem that will compound out of control.

It’s like they can be themselves with others, but when they are with their partner it’s like they put on the suit of armour not really letting them in or holding back in some way.

The process of letting go sits in a four-stage process

  1. The person has to be able to see the pattern and how it negatively affects their own life.
  2. The person has to understand what the pattern of holding on to the past is for so they see the mechanics of the pattern and why it’s failing them.
  3. The person has to be shown how to honour the needs of the pattern and still meet those needs, but this time in a way that connects them to who they really are.
  4. This sets a foundation to help them be of value to their life and the relationship rather than protecting themselves from it.

This process also involves their partner as they will need a supportive reassuring environment to explore a new way of being.

People that suffer from their past are not connected to the fact the past is no longer here, to them they live with it every day.

The key is to find a way to interrupt the pattern so they can embrace themselves and the life they really should be enjoying.

I have had so many clients that are now enjoying the freedom of letting go of a past that’s only really making their lives worse in the quest to protect them.

In many cases, the person is simply stuck with feelings that hold them back.

  • Some won’t let go of a past event and so it’s blocked their intimacy.
  • Some won’t let go of childhood suffering and they struggle to trust their partner.
  • Some won’t let go of past partners affairs and the current relationship is now paying the price.

Patterns are there to make life easier so…

If there is a pattern in your relationship and it’s making a life together harder, please know it doesn’t have to be that way because letting go in an intelligent way is far safer to live.

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About Stephen Hedger

International relationship expert Stephen Hedger's philosophy on relationship problems is this: Couples fail to understand their relationships because they are too focused on their problems and so they totally miss what created them. Stephen's approach is a refreshing and enlightening journey that helps couples uncover their truth. His strategies uncover the knowledge that all couples need to create a successful and lasting passionate connection. If you are in crisis and you need help, book an initial consultation today to get your life back on track.