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Why Your Past Doesn’t Have to Predict Your Future

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When you imagine your dream job, you are likely to assess what you’ve chosen in the past in order to gain a better idea of what you need and want in the future. Now it’s time for you to put the same care and preparation into your personal life.

Figure out what you want next by creating a Love Résumé for your love life (or lack of it) thus far. This trip down memory lane may not be completely pleasant, but cataloging your past relationships is a necessary step toward finding the one you can love, and who loves you back. And hopefully you’ll have plenty of good memories to go along with the more painful ones. Even if it is mostly painful, or embarrassing, or even humiliating to recall your love history, do not despair. Some error and failure is preferable to none. If you’ve never been dumped or taken for a bad ride, you probably aren’t trying hard enough

Let’s go over specific mistakes and look for themes. Objective? To focus on feeling lucky that you’ve moved on now and seize the opportunity for an upgrade!

Filling Out Your Love Résumé:

So, how far back should your love résumé go? Forget the kid in seventh grade who kissed you under the bleachers, but if there was someone who really mattered to you and played a significant role in your life in high school or college, count him or her in. Go with your own definition of love. The qualifier is depth of feeling – not whether or not your relationship worked in the end. As long as it’s romantic love, it counts. Even if it was only a short relationship, feel free to add it on – especially if your dating pattern has been a series of short, intense relationships. If you had a two week love affair and consider that person the love of your life, who’s to tell you no? By all means, include their name in your love line-up.

To create your Love Résumé you’ll need to do the following:

Column 1: Write the names of each of your loves.

Column 2: Physically describe all of your past loves. For each, write down the first three to six adjectives that pop into your head when you think about that person. For example: “Peter: Tall, blond, bearded, great dresser.” And don’t panic; you’re not going to be graded or judged. This is an assessment for your eyes only, not a test. Just write down your quick, instinctual thoughts.

Column 3: List adjectives that describe the actual love relationships. Again, write down the first three to six descriptive words that come to mind. Was it fun? Volatile? Miserable? Romantic? Chaotic? Hot sex? Comfortable with each other from the minute we met?

Column 4: Write down which one of you ended things. And keep in mind that the answer may not be simple. Who was first to be forthcoming may be different from the one who started setting the relationship up to fail. Was it really you or your lover who threw in the towel? Again, no one else will see this if you don’t publish it, so check your ego at the door and write the truth.

Column 5: Take time and think about the personalities of each of your loves. Did their personality resemble either of your parents’ personalities? If so, write that down.

Sample Love Resume

 

Your Love Resume

 

Analyzing Your Résumé

Once you fill out your love résumé, look for patterns and themes. You’ll recognize your past mistakes, particularly the repeated ones. Do you have a story that explains your making the same poor choices over and over? Is there a background that is influencing your not being able to keep what you catch? Do you start too soon and stay to long? Or do you choose people who are destined to leave? (How do you know if you are a commitment phobic? You date them!)

Use this review of past loves to start your new dating life knowing what you do and don’t want to repeat. Be determined. Look for dates with real potential as keepers, and don’t even have a cup of coffee or drink with those unlikely to go the distance. If someone is bright, shiny, sexy, smart, and funny, but not keeper material – and it’s real love you want – don’t go down that inevitable dead end. Haven’t you played around enough or been burned enough? Or maybe you just weren’t thoughtful enough in the past and jumped into relationships? You can change all that with conscious, healthy, and informed choices all the time and every time.

Remember: Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome, is one of the definitions of insanity.

Janet Blair Page, PhD, author of Get Married This Year: 365 Days to “I Do”, is a psychotherapist with more than thirty years of experience in private practice in New York and Atlanta. She teaches at Emory University and has been in the New York Times, Glamour and on CNN, FOX, Good Morning America, and The Early Show. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
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