Remember Lot’s wife? The story in Genesis about the woman who looked back at a burning city and apparently became a ‘pillar of salt’? I’ve always felt sympathy for her. Who isn’t tempted to look back? And maybe even go back to the old and familiar?
But her story can be read as a psychological truth about life and relationships: looking back and revisiting a previous relationship can leave you stuck. While it’s true that sometimes old connections can be positively revisited — if the issue was bad timing, for example — it’s been my experience that new connections are the ones with more potential. But, why?
The past is like the blue haze on the horizon: distance lends enchantment
A lot of things look better from a distance than they do close up, and it’s the same with relationships. Time has a distancing effect, causing you to forget why the relationship didn’t work in the first place.
I’ve learnt my lesson on that one, having attempted to rekindle an old flame not once but twice. Feeling a bit lonely one day I found myself dwelling on an ex, concentrating on the relationship’s pros while downplaying its cons, thinking with another try it could be made to work. Needless to say, it didn’t. Now I wish I’d not wasted his time and mine but tried being open to possibilities and making new connections instead.
You have become different people
If tempted to get in touch with someone you dated as a starry-eyed teenager be aware that Time + Circumstance + Life = Change. Just because you got on well in the past does not mean you will have anything in common now.
I discovered this for myself when someone from many years ago popped up on my relationship radar. As a young adult I had liked his cool thoughtfulness but many years down the line this had developed into a cold intellectualism which didn’t bode well for a warm fulfilling relationship. I needed to meet someone new to find that.
Hankering for the past takes your attention away from the present
While we can definitely learn lessons from yesterday, focusing too much on this diverts us from where we are now. Deep down you know that when you’re on a journey it makes more sense to face the way you’re going, eyes open to upcoming possibilities.
Look on past relationships as stepping-stones en route to your destination
Close personal relationships are enriching, sometimes bittersweet, sometimes painful. Our past relationships all contribute to who we are now. I find it helpful not to regret relationships which didn’t work out but to visualise them as stepping-stones across a river. On the riverbank is the relationship that is right for you. Don’t get stuck on the stepping-stone.
What new connections offer
No mutual baggage. A clean slate. A chance to create a God-honouring relationship which also honours you and the other person. And then, if the relationship continues to develop, the growing sense of joy and feeling of rightness which comes with the realisation that you and this special person may be sharing a future together.
And this is where I have found the online community to be such a God-given gift. New people whom we would otherwise have no chance of meeting come online all the time and the internet allows us to spread our social wings and make contact. Try making new connections today.
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