The Relationship Paradox

The funny thing about relationships is that, unless you’ve know the person for a while, the persons life essentially begins when you realize you’ve meet them; at least your understanding / experiences with the person begin then. Both partners likely see the future in the other – that is, the hope of what can be in a period of time when everything is possible. It’s wondrous and pure, a time of magical excitement. It lasts for a while but in most cases, the past begins to show itself.

It’s the past, it’s why you are the way you are and there’s little you can do to stop it from showing its face and painting doubt on many of the dreams for the future you had been creating. It’s also the reason why your partner struggles to figure-out what the heck happened to fun and even flow what was the budding relationship. You change, not because your dream changed, but because your haven’t stabilized the past in the past, so it come out again to guide your life towards the same experiences. The past helps us change from author of a love story to actor in a modern tragedy because most of the time we do not question our motives for making a decision. We advance, on auto-pilot, sleeping through the decision making process, into the past.

So your initial movement and dreams of the future, being replaced by the automatic behavior of your past, is going to bother your partner because they don’t have any idea about your past. They see amazing, they see beauty, they see an unstoppable, bulletproof partner who will help them grow into their greatness. Thing is, their partners see themselves as all the things their previous experiences conditioned them to see about themselves. And most of this stuff is going to be a lot darker than the dreams their new partner has been manufacturing. Insecurities, assumed dept or unpaid obligations, open loops, guilt pinning actions, mental baggage from relationships, thoughts of wasted potential and in-honorable deeds – things that hurt to think about let alone say out loud and admit to someone you are falling in love with.

Your actions and fears don’t make sense to your new partner because they don’t know you like this. Your birth, in their world view, was the moment they noticed you so they aren’t going to recall your pain when, in grade 4, your answered a question wrong and the teacher laughed, or when you father didn’t show-up for the school play, or when your second boy friend decided to move to Vancouver to live with his wife. But you recall the pain. Your understanding of the world has been shaped by each of these, and 100’s more, disappointing events. Each thing taught or reinforced a new lesson about how the world was and your brain takes each lesson and manufactures a world view with these events as most probably outcomes in similar situations. This is how our past becomes our future.  The lessons shape how we engage the world regardless of the extremely isolated nature and absolute uniqueness of the experience. It’s one trial learning at it’s finest and it is, for the most part, why your current relationship is going to hit some rough water.

You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, maybe.

This relationship paradox, of you being the past and your partner seeing the future, isn’t a problem for self-aware people or those individuals who find themselves to be well adjusted in terms of their world view matching the way the world is. But for the rest of us, we had better get good at feeling the sensation of the past trying to express itself and stop the expression or start talking very candidly with our new partners about why we are the way we are. Let them know about the feelings of disappointment when someone didn’t show-up as planned when you were 6 and how this makes you feel like you are simply waiting to be disappointed by everyone. Let them know that you have some concerns about honesty because your last girl friend was able to lie very convincingly. Explain to them why you act in ways that seem to go against what they view you to be. They may not like hearing the stories, but they’ll benefit from knowing them because they’ll have a better handle on who you actually are because they’ll know what you are coming from.

It’s very simple. Good partnerships thrive when each person is able to predict the thoughts and actions of the other. To do this, each needs to know who the other person actually is as well as knowing  their hopes, dreams and potential. This won’t happen by accident. It takes work, open conversation, and an ability to accept that there are things about you that aren’t working for you anymore. The past is going to try to show itself again and again. With good teamwork and some frank discussions, you can identify the role your past plays on your present and shape your future to be much closer to what your new loves see it to be.