There was an article on the Starts at 60 web site not long ago about “manufactured memories.” The upshot of the article was that your brain subconsciously embellishes on memories to make the story of your life better. It’s harmless, and experts have shown that it’s beneficial for your mental health.
Why bring this up in an article about holding on to past loves? Simply because the reasons you hang onto those loves or crushes could just story telling memories, but instead of being good for you these hang-ups could be affecting your current or future relationships.
We went down to The Men’s Shed to discuss past loves to see if there were any effects of never actually letting go.
Henry thought over a life well lived before saying, “Melanie, she was my high school sweetheart. We started dating my first year of high school. Like most high school couples though we broke up and got back together a few times. The entire time I always thought it was “meant to be.” After high school, we had a fling or two but had moved on. I always held our time together in high regard and in fact I ended a lot of good relationships because I held them in comparison to her. It’s never fair to compare one person to another as each person you meet in life is a whole new adventure. I honestly think that it did affect my life. That is until I met my wife. She blew any expectation I had for another person out of the water. I won’t lie. Sometimes when the wife and I fought, I would think that this wouldn’t happen with Melanie. It took me a few years to realise that I was romanticising Melanie a bit because if it was so good with her why did we break up and drift apart? Couldn’t have been that good. Of course, she’s part of my past so she comes to mind from time to time but she could never fill my life like my wife does.”
“My first wife ruined my second and third marriage,” David said. “That makes it sound like she made my life hell. I should have started that differently. My first wife died in an accident after we were only married for a few years. She was a childhood friend and teenage girlfriend. It took a long time to get over her. I rushed into a second marriage so that I could feel some kind of normalcy. It was so unfair to her. I compared everything to my first wife, and it drove my second and third wife away. I finally got help and dealt with my grief. It took almost 20 years to come to terms with it. Funny enough I decided to seek out my ex-wives after I dealt with my grief to apologise cause it weighed on my mind almost every night. They both already knew my problem and were hoping they were the ones that could fix me. We’re all friendly now. I’m not going to get married again, but I am seeing someone which is nice.”
The generally feeling from the fellas at the Men’s Shed is that a lot of the “ones that got away” are simply a “grass is always greener” thought or a holding on of youth. As one of the men pointed out “If you live forever in the past, there is no chance of a great future.”