Think about the last time your boyfriend did something really irritating. For just a moment, 30 seconds tops, remember every detail you can.
Got a specific annoyance in mind? Good.
Okay, the next part is the important part. How do you feel RIGHT NOW?
The original emotions came back, right? You spent less than a minute thinking about something frustrating, and you felt yourself getting upset all over again.
You’re probably not surprised by that. I’m sure you already know that when you remember something, good or bad, it’s like reliving it. [i] The feelings always come back.
And, boy-oh-boy, are there times when that can wreak havoc. Like in the middle of a fight.
When conflict breaks out, it’s only natural to think of other times something similar happened. But when you do, it makes everything about the current conflict messier.
In part, that’s because you’re piling negative emotions on yourself. Now you’re upset about two things instead of just one. But there’s another downside.
Once you think of ONE other time he’s been a…ahem…bonehead, you’ll likely think of SEVERAL other times.
In the world of psychology, this is called “kitchen sinking.”[ii] That means throwing everything into the current argument you can think of, including all kinds of past pain.
And, yes, guys do it, too.
Kitchen sinking will make any conflict much harder to navigate.
What’s more, a recent study[iii] found that even if you don’t actually mention past irritations during a fight, just thinking about them is as bad as bringing them up!
Luckily, there are two surefire ways to keep the past in the past.