Being in a relationship, no matter how short or long, is much like traveling to a new country or city for the first time. While invigorating in its initial stages, you never know how the experience will turn out. Although you hope for the best, you try not to let your excitement get the better of you, or worse, ruin your expectations. As such, your best recourse is to take in the full experience as best as you can the first time around. The reason for this is that it is near impossible to bring back the novelty feeling of getting to know a person or place without having any prior knowledge. So why get bogged down or lost in what “might” happen, when we can live in the present and enjoy it fully?
Once we become familiar with a person or place, we tend to get complacent. We forget to appreciate what is in front of us, notice the small things, and oftentimes only pick out the negatives. While warranted in some situations, many of us will later reminisce about old times and wish that we had not taken them for granted. This is often when we hear people say they wish they could go back to the times when things were simple and new. This is one good reason, we should try to be as present and, in the moment, as possible in our relationships, much like we do when we are traveling. For it is when a relationship or trip ends, that we later invent great stories and memories that don’t represent how things were at the time.
Although it is tempting to return to a relationship or place that you have visited before, it does not always bring about the initial feelings the second time around. While we desire the spark of a relationship we once had or feeling the excitement of our first journey to our favorite place, things change and we often cannot recreate those initial impressions. When we are at our lower points in life, we often think about what could have happened rather than what occurred. And for this reason, when you’re feeling low, it is best to leave the past behind. Cherish the experience when in the moment but try not to look at these moments when taking stock of a relationship gone bad, as they will only burden and hinder your judgment. They can also hurt relationships/experiences that are right in front of you if you are always comparing them to some imaginary standard. Remember, if things were as good as those snapshot moments in your head, then why would your relationship (or experience) have gone south?
It is when we long to recreate a memory that we often disappoint ourselves. It is important to remember that a relationship or place that you visited was special and symbolic because of what was going on at that moment in your life. Whether short or long, it was a season in which you thrived, grew, and moved on. In the words of Gautama Buddha, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”