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What To Do When Old Baggage Haunts Your New Relationship

It's just so typical. You spend all this time complaining about being single, and then when you find a great new guy you start freaking out! All your old baggage starts reappearing, and you're not quite sure how to deal. Follow these tips, from self-reflection questions to a mock-conversation with your partner, to banish the past where it belongs!

Dear Colette,

There is a lot of advice on the Internet about how to find a quality man who is the perfect match for me. In fact, all the advice has worked! And I've found a really terrific guy that I am totally into on many levels. We've been dating for a couple of months now, and I know he really likes me, too. But despite knowing this, I seem to be wrestling daily with a monkey on my back. Before I met my new man I was a strong, confident woman. And now that I'm in this relationship I'm finding that all my old fears and insecurities (the ones I was sure I had dealt with) are ALL coming back to haunt me. I've tried to snap myself out of it. I've tried to reason with myself that these fears are "false expectations appearing real." But to no avail, I just can't seem to shake the monkey! So my question is, how do you manage all of the fears and insecurities that come up at the beginning of a new relationship?



Dear Monkey-Back,


I am so very excited that you have asked me this question!

The reason being? I have a secret affinity for working with new couples who are doing their best to navigate the quintessential "choppy waters" of new love.

Monkey-Back... you are SO not alone. I assure you. New love (the first three months to one year) can be absolutely nerve-wracking. Especially if you've met someone with massive potential, whom you can see spending the rest of your life with.

Old fears? Monkeys? Heck yeah... they come back with a vengeance!

But I want you to rest assured that with a little bit of self-reflection-turned-self-awareness and a few tips on how to work together with your new beau, you'll be well on your way to the open, vulnerable intimacy of true love.

Time for a little self-reflection

Okay, this is going to be VERY general, only because I don't know exactly what your specific fears are. But that's probably just as well... this way, anyone in a new relationship can use these tools.

New love is meant to trigger your "stuff"

Rest easy knowing that true love, the kind that lasts, isn't supposed to be pure bliss all the time (although movies like to make us believe otherwise). You have attracted your new man very purposefully, on an energetic level (at least that's my belief) and whatever fears come up, are SUPPOSED to come up -- because you are READY to handle them.

Feel the fear...

No matter what the monkey on your back is, just take notice of it. Don't stuff it or try to push it away. Open your arms to it and embrace it. This is juicy stuff -- stuff that's going to help you grow and evolve as a human being. You will be better for really FEELING this fear -- whatever it may be about.

Okay, are you feeling it? Really feeling it? Good. Now do this:

Ask yourself these four questions about your fear(s):

1. How true is this really?

(Give evidence for why it IS and is NOT true)

2. Where did I learn this?

(This is HUGE! And usually gives you those proverbial ah-ha! moments!)

3. What is it costing me?

(How is hanging onto this fear holding you back?)

4. How do I let it go?

(In your own unique way what can you do to ACCEPT yet RELEASE the fear?)

...And do it anyway

Now, if you've taken these steps seriously and you've taken your time with them, I'm betting that you've realized a bunch of new stuff about yourself. Which is great! But you're not quite done yet...

To really get the benefit of all of your hard work, it's time to share all of your delightfully insightful newfound self-awareness with your man.

Does that scare you?

For many people it does. But not to worry, there is a REASON for doing this and a super smart trick to it, too!

Tips, tricks and tools to make sharing a breeze!

1. You want to share it so you are BOTH aware of it

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you attracted your guy perfectly and purposefully to bring up the stuff that needs to be brought up. The stuff you are ready to handle. By sharing it with your partner, you can work together to help you overcome your fear. Two heads are better than one and if this relationship is one that's going to last, you both have to learn to be honest and open with one another, no matter what comes up.

If you're worried that he's going to think you're nuts, stick around because there's a trick to doing this, so he doesn't get scared off.

2. The super smart trick to talking it over with your man

Typically speaking, eight times out of 10, men aren't really keen to talk about how they're feeling. And, many men only have so much attention to listen to you about yours. But, there's a way that you can approach this somewhat touchy subject in a way that he'll look forward to it whenever it comes up.

The trick is to turn your newfound realization(s) into a puzzle and/or a problem that you need help solving. Men love being useful and they love a good project. If you approach the touchy subject of emotions and feelings in a way that engages his problem solving skills you'll have him captivated, hook-line-and-sinker!

Here's how the sharing conversation might look:

YOU: Do you have a minute to chat about something? It's a bit of a puzzle that I need help solving.

HIM: Ummm, okay. Sure.

YOU: So, you remember last night how we were hanging out and you said ______?

HIM: Yeah.

YOU: Well, I'm not sure if you noticed but when you said ______ I totally clammed up.

HIM: I did notice that. It made things kind of awkward.

YOU: Well, at the time I wasn't sure what it was all about, but I knew that something in me was triggered. So last night when I went home, I thought some more about it and I realized what it was all about. And the funny thing is, it has nothing at all to do with you. It's actually something from the past. Care to hear about it?

HIM: Sure.

YOU: Well, there was a time in my past where this same sort of thing happened (explain the situation). And back then I took it to mean (name the faulty belief you discovered in your self-reflection work). And I'm pretty sure that when you said ______ you probably didn't mean it this way. Would that be a fair assumption?

HIM: Yeah. It would.

YOU: Good. But you see the thing is, because of this past situation that's how I interpreted what you said. And the truth is, I want the past to be the past. I don't want to interpret what you said like that any more... So, I'm wondering... If this sort of thing ever happens again, well, I'm wondering if you'd like to help me work through it? We don't have to do it right then and there if it's not a convenient time. But if you'd just be willing to talk about it when it is convenient, it would really help me a lot.

HIM: Sure. I'd be happy to help you with that.

YOU: Great! And if it ever happens again, I'll do my best to remember that this is about an irrational fear from my past that has nothing to do with you. But I'm also wondering if you happen notice the same reaction in me in future situations, can you help me by gently pointing it out to me?

HIM: Ummm, sure. I could do that.

YOU: That way, I won't try and avoid it. And if you point it out to me without making me wrong, just pointing out what 'is'... Well then I'll have the opportunity to notice what triggered me and that will just give me even more information to help me get to the root of it, so I can deal with it once and for all. I think if we do this, it will really help me grow as a person, and I'm absolutely up for the challenge. Do you think you could help me with that?

HIM: Yes, absolutely.

Final comments

If you've got a man who's willing to have a conversation like this with you, you've struck gold. You've got a great man on your hands and you're going to do great as couple as you both navigate the sometimes messy waters of new love.

If you're man isn't up for this kind of conversation, that's okay. Do your self-reflection work anyway. Share your realizations with a trusted girlfriend and ask her if she'd be willing to support you in moving through your fears and triggers when they come up.

Hope that helps!

Lots of Love,

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