When You Show Up to a New Relationship with Old Shit


Several of my women friends have gone on dating hiatuses at some point or another. I can’t tell you their reasons because I don’t know.

But anytime I’ve taken a break – well first off, I’ve been in long term relationships for most of my adulthood, but when I took time off (usually about a year), I was trying to get over a lover. Sometimes you need a moment to get through the withdrawal and heal.

A funny thing can happen though. The passage of time can heal damn near any emotional wound – on the surface. You can do the required self-assessment to learn your lessons from any given situation and move on. Essentially, you can do the “work” on yourself to feel happy and whole again.

Then you meet a new love. Who remembers what the honeymoon phase is like in a brand, spanking new relationship? The giddiness, the late-night-til-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning phone calls, the endless fantasizing, the blowy kisses and the “I love youuuu.” And “I love you MORE.” (Smiles!) It can actually last quite a long time, even well into the first year or two of marriage – or beyond.

When you wake up from that glorious haze – maybe you’re jolted out of it by something minor that leads to an argument (your girlfriend refuses to put the cap back on the toothpaste) or heaven forbid something major – your less favorable parts start to show. So do your lover’s. This can make for uncertainty. Especially if you had convinced yourself that time and space had resolved your shit (fears, negative/ unpleasant feelings, harmful behavior, etc.) and you’d roll blissfully forth into the future with said person of your dreams.

Does it ever happen that way? A quote from the CEO of the company I work for: “learning more details naturally reveals greater complexities.”

In actuality, a surefire way to trigger your shit is emotional closeness, and opening yourself up to be vulnerable with another person. And contemplating sharing the rest of your life with said person. A lot of folks end their union here.

Where am I going with this?

The bottom line is that we all have shit. We all have a past. We all have emotional triggers that can make us defensive or send us into a tailspin. We have old wounds (hopefully all crusted over). Depends on how much work we’ve done and how well we’ve self-assessed. How much we own our mess.


I was reading the other night that more and more new couples (like three months in) are seeking counseling to see if they are compatible – even if they have no intentions on getting married. If it’s a good fit, they can move on to other stages. If there are fundamental differences in the way they view the world (I personally don’t think people have to have identical world views), they can cut their losses early. Three months in seems early, but I could get behind couples counseling to get to the root of differences before investing too much time.

I’m more so an advocate of dealing with your shit on your own, with professional help if necessary – versus just hoping you’re really healed. I’m in favor of challenging yourself to look for patterns in thinking and behavior that haven’t served you well in past relationships or in life in general, and fleshing out the root cause of that. Because sooner or later, that shit will resurface – even if only inside your own head in your silent moments of crazy. You think your partner won’t feel that energy? They will. And you may just trigger their shit.


This is almost an afterthought, but important – if you so show up with unresolved “matter,” it’s a great opportunity to know yourself better and to know the person you’re dealing with on a deeper level. Chances are, you’ll have more empathy for them if you know where they’re coming from. And if you both choose to, you can use whatever healing techniques you decide on to build a stronger bond. Happily ever after takes compromise. Or nah?

Do I sound preachy???

If you want to know more about managing emotional triggers, here is a good resource.

Does any of this resonate with you? Which part? Please chime in. Do you think it’s best to deal with personal baggage prior to getting into a serious romantic relationship? Is that practical? Is marriage counseling a way to flesh out these issues prior to making a union legal/ binding? Should couples with no intentions on marrying pursue counseling?

Categories: Advice

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8 replies

  1. I think that seeing a counselor after 3 months is a red flag. I think that it’s way too early to have issues. At that point, I think that I’d cut my losses and move on. Also, I have a suspicion that people that go to counseling often never really reveal their true self, as so much of it tends to be a blame game with a winner and loser at stake.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! I’m prone to letting people go before we get to a first date. Lol. I should post a link to the article, but it also said that many therapists feel these young, new couples consider counseling as the new “it” thing to do. Some even go as a first date. Sign of the times perhaps. We tend to want instant gratification. Why wait 8 months to 2 years to flesh out compatibility (just tongue in cheek here.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You really hit the nail on the head with this. Lots of resonating going on. In answer to your question about dealing with baggage before entering a relationship, I think that in a lot of cases you actually can’t deal with it on your own. If you have big emotional triggers that come up during certain behaviours from your lover, how will you work through the feelings if nobody triggers them? And there are many issues you won’t even know that you had, or still had, until somebody pokes an unknowing stick at them. Keep on going and working through whatever comes up, is my admittedly not very catchy conclusion. Good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so agree with you. And it’s funny how this post ties into yours that I commented on. Time passes and we think we’ve healed. And then all our old crap comes up when our lover triggers us unknowingly. Again though, in the case of known trauma and repeated pattern (many relationships), some people know. They never feel up to doing the work, so they repeat the same cycle over and over again.


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