Will Old Baggage Always Sink New Relationships?

Apr 23 at 9am

Dear Jessica,

My last serious relationship ended really badly. There was definitely a lot of emotional manipulation that bordered on abuse and it was just over all toxic. This partner cheated on me multiple times with people I knew, including some people I considered friends. Even though I have moved on, that relationship has left me with lingering trust issues in my current relationship, which is otherwise fucking great! I love this guy and this relationship is really nourishing and awesome.

How can I take those final steps to truly heal? I don't want to be anxiety-ridden and worried about things that aren't even actually happening. I want to get rid of this terrible feeling that this guy I'm falling in love with will suddenly lose interest, because that is all my past relationship has really prepared me for. I'm pretty good at keeping these insecurities to myself instead of projecting them onto my partner, but I don't know how long that will last. -LL

I suspect that the person who you really don’t trust here is you, LL. I’m sorry that your last relationship was so awful; sometimes the people we love show us how low we’re willing to go and it absolutely sucks. But the truth is you can’t control whether or not a boyfriend will be kind, honest, or even stay in love with you. All you can be in charge of is how you participate and take care of your self. You don’t need to know that he’s perfect for you, or that things will last. You can’t know that. But you can set up a plan for being accountable to your heart so that you never stay in an unhealthy dynamic again! Be honest with yourself, and ask your friends to be direct with you too (and tell them you need them to be really honest). Promise that you will take care of you if the shit hits the fan. I’m not encouraging you to believe that it will, but I want you to know that you can count on yourself. Make sure that loving him helps you to better love your self and to have the life you want to have.

If you see signs that this guy is not respectful of your feelings or is acting shady, speak up. If you don’t like how he responds, promise yourself right here and now that you’ll bounce. While you can’t stop the rain from falling, you can pack an umbrella just in case. 

When you date a person’s potential, you’re not accepting them for who they are. The way to stay away from scary relationships is not to avoid them, but to honor yourself over both him and over your ideal of the relationship you hope to be in.

There’s no magic to overcoming fear; you simply have to be brave in the face of it. They call it ‘falling in love’, not ‘stepping carefully and gracefully into love,’ because there’s no way to do it without getting at least a little bit hurt, LL.

Don’t get so attached to your vision of who you want this (or any other) guy to be that you stop taking in who he is IRL. He may seem like the best guy ever in the first six months but if that changes at any point, be truthful about it. When you date a person’s potential, you’re not accepting them for who they are. Acknowledge his shortcomings and your problems as a couple, even if that makes things less romantic. The way to stay away from scary relationships is not to avoid them, but to honor yourself over both him and over your ideal of the relationship you hope to be in.

If you’re going to worry about your love life, you may as well be freaking out about the real stuff instead of your personal archive of What Ifs.

xo,

Jessica

The Mission’s resident advisor gets booked months in advance by San Franciscans seeking help with everything from figuring out their love lives to communicating with their pets. So we asked Jessica if she’d come on board to do a weekly advice column, Truth Talk, for The Bold Italic. If you have a burning question for Truth Talk with Jessica Lanyadoo, email her at truthtalkwithjessica@gmail.com, and check back on Wednesdays to see if she has an answer for you.

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