You’ve heard the axiom, “Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.” Some people have dating difficulties because they’ve never taken a hard look at the past to see how it affects the present and future.
But let’s emphasize the positive: Everyone can gain valuable insights by exploring their personal, family, and dating history. Gleaning wisdom from your past will improve your life—including your dating life. Here’s how to get started:
1. Consider how your family of origin shaped you. All of us are largely products of the families we grew up in. We are shaped and molded in thousands of ways by our parents and extended family members.
2. Think about the person who influenced you the most growing up. What made that person so important to you? What lessons did you carry into adulthood?
3. Identify the turning points in your life. Everyone has significant events (some positive, some painful) that redirect or reshape their lives. What were yours?
4. Weigh the “words of wisdom” that stuck with you. Perhaps a parent, teacher, or coach gave you some advice—or lived in a way that served as advice. How did that affect who you are today?
5. Journal regularly. Few things get us in touch with our thoughts, feelings, and memories more than writing them down.
6. Reread your old journals or diaries. For a walk down memory lane—with lessons learned along the way—take a stroll through your old writings.
7. Unpack your life in five-year increments. In your journal, write out the events from each five-year segment of your life.
8. Gauge how you have changed over the past ten or twenty years. Everyone grows and develops as time passes—at least they should. In what ways are you different from the person you were a decade or two ago?
9. Assess your successes. What do you consider your most successful events and experiences? What qualities did you bring to these achievements?
10. As well as your failures. Psychologists often say we learn most from our failures. Mine them for all they’re worth.
11. Notice how your dreams have changed. The dreams you had years ago have been updated. How so?
12. Talk with those closest to you. Ask them how they’ve seen you change over the years, and how specifically the “new-and-improved” you will benefit future relationships.
13. Evaluate the ingredients of your most successful dating relationship. Identifying the specific reasons a relationship succeeded will help you watch for them again.
14. Recall long-term relationships that you admired. Maybe you were inspired by the enduring marriage of your grandparents, parents, or family friends. What impressed you enough to take into your own future relationship?
15. Determine what about your past you want to leave behind and what you want to carry forward. You and your lover will benefit when you bring the only best about yourself into the future.