New relationships can be hard, even without any emotional baggage. Sometimes we make them harder by holding onto old, bad habits from past relationships. It’s only natural to build up defenses after bad experiences. The problem is that we often don’t realize that we’re treating the new just like the old. And remember, the old didn’t work. The old is old for a reason. It’s time to move on.
5 Steps for letting go of old habits in new relationships
Look back one last time
You’ve probably heard it said, “you can’t move forward if you don’t stop looking back.” So true, right? But isn’t it also true that we better look back for just a minute before taking off in a new direction? We need to understand what and where things went wrong. It’s so easy to find reasons to blame other people when things don’t work out. But if we don’t take responsibility for the part we played then we’ll continue to repeat the cycle of new relationships turning into old ones that we have to keep moving on from.
One of the most valuable habits we can have is a healthy amount of self-reflection or examination. That’s a must-have when learning about letting go of old habits in new relationships. Acknowledging any fault you have in what happened will not only help you move on, it will help you avoid repeating the mistakes. This doesn’t mean that you are always at fault, just that you understand that you might have a part in what happened. Even if it’s just allowing things to happen that shouldn’t have. Take it from someone who learned the hard way (me), other people are not always the problem.
Sometimes (often) I am the problem. Sometimes you are the problem. Right, ladies? Even after we have learned this lesson, it’s still pretty easy to forget. The best thing you can do is make self reflection a habit instead of an afterthought. This way you might be able to change the outcome of present and future relationships.
I can already feel some of you rolling your eyes as I write this and I get it. No one wants to wait for something that just feels downright unfair not to have. Why do some people just fall into what seems like effortless, loving relationships and some people search their whole lives for that? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that God says to seek Him first. I do know that fixing our focus on God first brings everything good to us.
Does that mean you’ll find love as soon as you stop trying to? No. But if you’re looking for peace in the waiting, it comes from God. If you’re looking for guidance in the process, it comes from God. If you are looking for a man who loves God like you do, then you should be focused on God so the right man will see that’s what you’re about and the wrong man will know you’re not interested. Plus, if you’re constantly on the hunt for a new relationship, you miss out on what you can learn about yourself, by yourself. There’s a good chance that if you don’t take that time to get to know your single self and be okay with being alone, it could cause some issues in your relationships.
Before you get out your pen and paper to make that perfect future husband check list, pump the breaks. Let’s be real, God is going to surprise you with the man he has for. You might as well toss that vision you have. You think you know what you want and need, but you have no idea how much more God knows. With that said, there are a few things that are important enough not to waver on. These things should be checked off upfront so you aren’t totally wasting your time or putting yourself in bad situations.
Bad habits in relationships tend to begin before the relationship starts. Rushing into things, not choosing someone you can see yourself with long term, etc. Assuming your end game is marriage, you should have some basic non-negotiables. Make no mistake, just because you’re focusing on seeking God that does not mean that only excellent prospects are going to come your way. But focusing on God will help you discern the right from the wrong. The important things will be in the forefront of your mind.
- Does he want God at the center of his relationships?
- Do you have the same moral beliefs?
- Do you have the same long term goals such as marriage, kids or no kids, etc.
Obviously there are plenty more things to consider in a relationship, but these things are make or break items that would be on my list. Your list might look a little different. But these are big questions that can throw you for a loop if you find out you aren’t on the same page later in your relationship. It might seem like you can work around these things. You might think one or the other of you will bend later and things will work out, but those big things tend to cause big trouble in the long run. Don’t go blindly into a relationship thinking you’ll cross that bridge when you get there. You need to be able to trust yourself to put you in good situations. It’s part of being able to trust the person you are in a relationship with.
Expect something new
Expectations. A lot of people get stuck here. We start something new but we expect something old. We drag all of our old fears, doubts, and insecurities into something new and with those old things we destroy that new thing. Those old expectations basically become a proverbial massacre of possibility. Sometimes we’ve been conditioned not to expect anything new. We’ve been there, done that, and been disappointed so many times. Then there are times when we have played a part in the downfall of those old things and we aren’t taking that responsibility. We’re stuck in those old habits and can’t shake those old feelings. They creep back in and we’re totally unaware that we’re projecting old issues onto a new person.
We defend our unwarranted feelings and actions by saying we don’t want to be fooled or let down again. But as long as we have old expectations, we are destroying any chance we have for something new. We can dress it up as protecting ourselves, we can call it being safe, but it’s nothing more than self-sabotage. Sure, it’s scary to blindly trust someone. But how many of those past let downs or mess up’s did you survive? All of them. And like we talked about above, if you haven’t settled for less than you want or need in the super important aspects, then you can probably feel comfortable going forward. You have to treat your new relationship like something you’ve never experienced before, give it a chance.
Communicate — and do it honestly
Like most things, all these steps are a lot easier said than done. No matter how badly you want to let go of your old, self-sabotaging habits, you’re probably still going to struggle. The best thing you can do in your relationship is to communicate honestly. Tell him about your past experiences, tell him what you’re really looking for, tell him you struggle to let go of old habits in new relationships. Be specific about what is hard for you and why. Give him the chance to make you feel better about those things instead of assuming things are going to turn out the same as they always have.