The thing that attracted you to your new partner in the first place was how different he/she seemed from anyone else you had been involved with: unlike your ex, he/she seemed to be understanding, attentive, courteous, and sensitive to your needs.
Was it too good to be true? That question has recently popped into your head as you’ve begun to notice some similarities — some ever-so-slight, some more obvious — your new partner has in common with the person you divorced. And boy, does that concern you.
So, should you be worried?
That depends. Although no two people are exactly alike, it is inevitable that many people — particularly those of the same sex — will demonstrate some similar reactions in certain situations.
At the same time, these similarities are setting off “warning bells”– so much so that you fear a replay of the unpleasant experiences that had you heading for the exit the last time someone behaved like this.
For example, something may make your new partner lose his temper and, as may always have happened with your ex, he may silently fume about it before finding a way to talk it out. This may make you think, “Oh no, here we go again!”
Then you react the same way you did with your ex — which is to say, you overreact. And that’s not good.
You’re now on the alert for other telltale signs: Does he have the same annoying habits? Will she respond to your relatives in the same way? Will he follow the same sexual pattern?
That would be a nightmare scenario. After all, it was so hard to extricate yourself from your last relationship. Your biggest fear now is that you’ve gone and made the same mistake again. But is your new partner really a clone of your ex?
Here are five tips that may help you put things into perspective:
Tip #1: Don’t panic. Deja vu moments have a habit of bringing up your fears from our past. That in turn causes you to act offensively, which has the counter-effect of encouraging your new partner to become defensive. Then you’re back to Square One: you’re upset, paralyzed with fear, and unable to articulate your concerns — this time to someone who has already demonstrated his/her love for you.
Tip #2: Look at the long-term action as opposed to the short-term reaction. Just because your new partner may exhibit an errant trait that reminds you of your ex doesn’t mean that all of his/her behavior will be the same. You have to keep reminding yourself that he/she is a different individual, with different motivations — and someone who shares your desire to work things through to create a great relationship.
Tip #4: Don’t be reluctant to seek out professional help. Irrational fears can only be controlled if you can consciously recognize them for what they are, and if you’re determined to work through them. Your new partner may be doing everything he/she can to help you in this regard, but sometimes he/she may not be up to the task: he/she may unknowingly slip back into the behavior pattern that upset you in the first place. Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a licensed counselor or therapist; what you learn by doing so may save your relationship.
Tip #5: Take a “time out” from the relationship. If too many of these unpleasant incidents keep happening, and each time one does, you feel as unhappy as you did with your ex, your relationship may need some breathing room. And that’s okay. You’re long-term well-being depends on your ability to cope within the partnership. If this relationship is making you unhappy much of the time, and both you and your new partner have done everything you could to work through any differences or concerns, then you should take some time to examine your options — which could include parting company or seeking counseling.