How to deal when you're haunted by the ghosts of relationships past
Halloween is just around the corner, and while we’re all about the spooky season, there’s one kind of haunting that’s far from thrilling, and that’s the lingering presence of an ex in your life that’s causing problems in your current relationship.
Let’s set the scene. You’re in a fabulous new relationship, and everything’s going great, when suddenly, out of nowhere, you feel a chill in the air—the presence of an ex, hovering like a specter over you and your new boo. These “relationship ghosts” can take many forms, from exes who pop up to comment on your social media posts, to the ones who send you a random “how’ve you been?” text at 2 am, to those who want to be friends with your new partner for some reason. And the hardest relationship ghost to get rid of is the one that lives in your head, causing you to compare your new relationship with your old one constantly.
Here are some tips to help you navigate these tricky situations and maintain a healthy, happy new relationship:
1. Talk through your needs and boundaries
There is no one right way to handle exes that’s going to work for every couple. So sit down with your partner and establish your unique needs and boundaries when it comes to your ex-partners. Keep in mind that this is not an invitation for one partner to control the other’s interactions with other people, but rather a chance to discuss what is and isn’t comfortable for both of you in terms of communication and interaction. It’s essential to be on the same page and respect each other’s feelings.
2. Be honest with your partner and yourself
If you’re feeling haunted by thoughts of your ex, it’s time for some soul-searching. Hauntings can take many forms, but common ones include constant comparisons between your old and new relationships, feeling like you’re not over the hurt that your ex left behind, or feeling that you still want to be with your ex. Talk openly and honestly with your partner about your feelings. Honesty is the best policy, and sharing your thoughts can help you work through any lingering emotions.
3. Focus on the present
Remind yourself why you’re in your current relationship. Focus on the qualities and experiences that make it special. Embrace the present, and don’t let the ghosts of the past steal your joy.
4. Do a social media detox
Sometimes, unfriending, unfollowing, or muting your ex-partner on social media can be a game-changer. You can even remain open to other kinds of communication and still benefit from not being in touch on social. Just not being aware of each other’s every move can help you be present in your current relationship.
5. Be patient
Getting rid of relationship ghosts may take time. Be patient with yourself and your partner as you work through these issues. Remember that a little ghostbusting effort can go a long way in maintaining a loving, drama-free relationship.
6. Talk to a therapist
If the haunting persists and it’s causing serious issues for you or for your relationship, don’t hesitate to seek couples’ or individual therapy. A trained therapist can provide guidance and strategies for working through these challenges.
7. Limit contact with exes when it’s not working for you
While it can be great to remain friends with ex-partners (and sometimes we don’t have a choice, like when we’re in a small community together), it’s crucial to evaluate whether the contact is healthy for you as an individual or for your current relationship. If it’s causing discomfort, it might be time to limit or redefine your interactions with your ex. And sometimes, it’s necessary to cut ties completely with ex-partners. As hard as it may be, don’t be afraid to make the tough decision to move on for the sake of your own happiness.
Stay safe out there!
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