There is no doubt that our past relationships influence how we deal with present or future ones. Maybe a painful breakup makes it hard for you to trust other people, maybe you went through a toxic relationship that took a toll on your self-esteem, or maybe your previous love was so idyllic that you think you won't find anyone better.
There are even those who strive to erase all memories of their ex from their minds, believing that this way they will be more receptive to a new relationship. However, a study conducted by psychology researchers at the University of Kansas has shown that nostalgia for an ex-partner can strengthen the quality of your current relationship.
After conducting two studies surveying participants and analyzing previous research, the researchers concluded that recalling nostalgic memories about an ex does not necessarily increase people's ongoing emotional attachment to their exes, but actually puts them in a “growth mindset”. This applies to those who do not continue to feel love or attraction for their previous partner, but only keep nostalgia for it.
"As people recall nostalgic memories, they realized that the breakup was inevitable and that the past relationship was over," the study highlights. "Instead of keeping people fixated on their past relationships, nostalgia leads people to use the past to find meaning, putting people in a mindset that enhances positive personal growth and well-being," they add.
Thus, the researchers emphasize that remembering that a person loved them and saw their worth serves to increase their self-esteem and value in the present. Likewise, reminiscing about beautiful moments from a previous relationship can serve as a reminder of intimacy in past relationships, "leading people to believe that they can have a greater sense of closeness with others in the present," they point out.
Pick up the aforementioned study that "nostalgia serves as a bridge that connects the present with the past, helps people appreciate the previous self, directs their attention to what they can learn from past relationships, fosters a growth mindset and decreases a fixed mindset. Also, remembering the failures of the previous relationship pushes us to grow from it and improve it, to benefit the current relationship.
In conclusion, people perceive themselves capable of relating to others, their personal strength increases, they feel open to new possibilities, and they are more likely to perceive their current relationship as of higher quality.