Nostalgia tends to get the better of us at the most inconvenient times, especially when it comes to relationships. You can end a relationship with someone you know is totally toxic and all wrong for you, but when the memories of all the good times hit you, it’s hard not to miss your ex. Trust me, I know first-hand. Here’s why nostalgia is so powerful when it comes to making us miss our past relationships.
- Selective memory We all have selective memory when it comes to recalling anything from the past. When we recall certain memories, the way we remember it can slightly change each time. Sometimes, it can be easier to remember the bad more than the good. Other times, especially when we’re missing the parts about being in a relationship that we like, it’s much easier to remember the good over the bad. Weird flex but okay, nostalgia.
- Association One of the worst parts about trying to get over somebody, in my opinion, is all the mental associations we create with that person. Certain songs, places or people can remind us of people from our past. For me, the relationship that most commonly gets brought up was with someone I dated from late high school until late college years. We essentially grew into our young adulthood together, so naturally, I had a lot of firsts with this one and our tastes evolved parallel to each other. Because of this, lots of things (especially music) bring me back to that time of my life when we were together. Damn, nostalgia, stop that.
- Loneliness I don’t think this one needs too much of an explanation. When we crave company, we remember the company we used to have. Nostalgia, you tease.
- Boredom I’m attracted to chaos and drawn to conflict. Though most of us don’t like to admit it, I think a lot of us can be. I’m a fairly drama-free person. I let things roll off my shoulders pretty easily. I wouldn’t say I try and stir the pot. All that being said, I love a good argument. Since I’m not typically the one who starts arguments, the fact that my ex had a short fuse is something that I remember to be thrilling. This thrill is obviously something that I only think of fondly in memory. At the time, our arguments were terrible and unhealthy. I hated every second of every one of them. When I find myself bored, though – with life, with myself, with others – it almost compels me to remember those awful times as passionate or exciting. I find myself pining for someone to at least CARE enough for me to wind them up like that. Oh nostalgia, you bitch.
- Slim pickins I’m extremely picky when it comes to the guys I date, and not always in the healthiest way. The kind of men I’m usually attracted to are in no position to be in healthy, real, long-term relationships. There also just aren’t many guys out there that are up to my standards of a serious relationship. So when I fall short of all the ridiculous criteria that I have on my list, I immediately revert back to thinking of my ex and how easy it was being with him instead of trying to meet someone new. I’m a fool for you, nostalgia.
- Forgetting that you’re completely different people now Obviously when remembering a past relationship, you remember that person how they were during that time in their lives. You forget how much they may have changed during the course of your relationship, and even more so, how much they have likely changed since your relationship. Think about how much you’ve changed since the end of a relationship. I know I have, and I’ve even been told by mutual friends how much my ex has since we dated. Still, whenever I find myself thinking of him, I remember him as the kid I started dating rather than this stranger of a person that he probably is today.
- Jealousy My ex is dating someone new now. I know her. I like her. It’s difficult for any of us, though, to keep ourselves from reminiscing on a past relationship when we see our ex with someone new – frequenting the same places you frequented or doing the same things you did together. Jealousy isn’t always ugly and evil on the surface. Sometimes it just digs into us a little bit and makes us remember things that we should probably avoid ruminating on. You’re such a sneak, nostalgia.
- Visual & Physical Documentation Facebook tends to store the pics of our relationships in good times. No one is going to save or share the moments where they’re sobbing on the bathroom floor in the midst of a screaming match with their significant other (or maybe you do – no judgement. Perhaps that’s healthier than it sounds). It’s easy to get caught up thinking about good times when you stumble across those things. Same goes with the physical reminders. Personally, I tried to get rid of a lot of the stuff I had around from my ex (clothes, cards, presents) and also keep him blocked on social media. I did not need those reminders, nor did I need that weird juju hanging around my apartment. The few things and trinkets that I did keep hold great memories behind them, but it’s so important to remember to take them for what they are – nice remnants of good times and reminders of the ways I deserve to be treated from men in my future – rather than triggers of what once was. I see you, nostalgia.