Is The Past In The Present?

old flamesA friend of mine has been in a relationship with the same person for nearly three years. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a consistent relationship. Perhaps I should revise that sentence to: a friend of mine has been in love with the same person for nearly three years. The reason for the revision of that sentence is that constant break-ups, arguments and disappointments have made it almost impossible to work out where their break-up starts and their relationship begins.


Two months ago, my friend’s other half came back (for the thousandth time) on hands and knees begging for another chance, which she willingly gave. Now, here’s when things get a little dramatic. He proposed. That’s right, the guy who has spent nearly three years lying and disappearing (and even sleeping with other woman using the “we were on a break” line) got down on one knee, proclaimed his undying love, announced he was a changed man and popped the big old question. Unsurprisingly, she said yes. We were all over-joyed (etcetera, etcetera) until a few days ago when the same friend called me up in a blind panic and announced she thinks she made a mistake when she said “yes”. She loves him, dearly, but doesn’t trust him at all.


Which leads me to ask: The past might be in the past, but can it ever really stay there?


I’m a firm believer in the idea that people can change. You might think I’m naïve but I have more than a few girlfriends who have done things they’d rather not talk about (rather not talk about while they’re sober at least!) because they now know it was a mistake, and I have more than a couple of male friends in that predicament too. The main problem with people that make mistakes, on repeat, is that while they acknowledge that they need to change, and some of them actually manage to, they fail to acknowledge what kind of change they could inadvertently cause in the other person.


This young gentleman (who, it turns out, has fabulous taste in jewellery) may well have changed, but over the many months of let-downs and “oh no, I’ve changed my mind again” being played on repeat, my friend has changed too. Arguably, perhaps it isn’t the past at all that catches up with us, merely the consequences of our actions.


If he hadn’t acted that way so many times, my friend wouldn’t have put her self-defence mechanisms up – that isn’t the past repeating itself, it’s common sense kicking in! You can’t blame the past for what happens in the future, what you can do is learn from the past and change what happens in the future although people seem to frequently, and incorrectly, blur these ideas together. Just because someone acted a certain way in the past doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do it again. However, this might have nothing to do with the fact that they’ve changed; it might be more to do with the fact that the people they hurt aren’t stupid enough to let them do it again.


When it comes to relationships, no one outside of the two people involved can possibly understand what’s going on (and that applies to the good bits and the bad bits) so it really is a personal decision on how much you let your relationship past, or perhaps even all your past relationships, dictate your romantic future.


What I will say is this: don’t let the past be an indicator for the future, just let it be a lesson for future experiences. Remember, that old lover who didn’t realise how good he had it might have changed, but you’ve changed too.