At first glance, relationships appear simple, but as time goes on and you both change and grow they can be a tricky thing to maintain. There’s no expiration date or set time before they explode, you can only hope that you’ve found a confidant to be there for you and sort through the wreckage.

It’s important to take stock and reflect on our relationships from time to time. Every relationship no matter how old or new can use help in reconciling your feelings if we take the time to reflect and examine as a whole what they say about us. In order to come to terms with ourselves, we must start to unpack what leads us to get stuck in one particular time frame. Whether you’re feeling stuck regarding past, current, or fear for future problems in relationships this can help you no matter where you’re at in the process of reflection.


Past

Whenever we reflect on past relationships, it’s often at times when we feel at a loss with our current ones. Romantically, it can be when a new beau is in the picture. It can be as a result of a new family member being added to the group. It can be a new friendship forming after a bad break-up with your friends from back home.

Whatever the case may be, reflecting on past relationships can also come up at times when we're frustrated with our past mistakes with these relationships. We’re unable to let go, so how can we possibly feel brave enough to work up to get back out there and become vulnerable with someone else entirely? It’s an odd transition, especially when you felt you could count on others to be around for awhile and ended on unexpected terms.

When looking back, it’s also scary to be honest with ourselves in how much a part we played in the dissolution of these relationships. Where did things really go wrong? How much was it really me, and not them? What happens when a pattern of those being close to me is broken off on their terms because of my faults?

It’s important to remember when looking back that there are some things in the past that you cannot change. They were your decisions and the other’s at the time, and as much as it sucks you no longer have control over them. The best thing to do is to let go of the past and not waste your time getting stuck down this rabbit hole of memories, regrets, and what if’s. It’s not worth the time and energy if it’s only bringing you down and shaming yourself in the process.

It also doesn’t help that when looking back at our past relationships, we can see an entirely different person now. When realizing you are going through a lot of changes and have come to change a lot as a person, it can be hard to recognize how you could have made such decisions or acted in such a manner that isn’t you now. The best way is to recognize your mistakes, try to ensure they are not repeated in the future, and move on with the person you are now who is stronger because of these past relationships. Forgive them, forgive yourself, and take as much time as you may need to mull over these changes.


Present

When reflecting on our current relationships, it can be stirred by a number of things. A reason that can come into play is our fear of repeating the same mistakes. If we’re focusing so much on maintaining these relationships, there can be a bit of pressure at stake if you felt responsible for people leaving in the past. The last thing you would want is to mess things up and have a current relationship be a thing of the past.

It can also be that you’re noticing now how things are off between you and your current relationship. This can either come out of nowhere, be stirred from something that someone else is observing from the outside, or it can be from noticing past incidents that have added up over time.

It may not even be your fears of the past coming to the surface or the fear of confrontation that keeps you from being fully present in your relationships. It could also be the idea of the future that hangs over you. Sometimes no matter how long your relationship has occurred, the idea of the future can creep you out of committing to someone before you even started.

With a new friend, it can be that you discovered something about them that you didn’t before that you strongly disagree with. With a family member, it can be that they did something you never expected them to do and that you felt like your say or approval should have had some weight on the situation. With a romantic partner, it can be that you’ve moved past that newlywed phase and things are getting serious. No matter what the cause or length of time, the idea of the future can start to shake your present view of things. Time can start to feel out of your control when you have to consider the prospect of the future.

With the present, the hardest thing is what it actually involves: be as present as possible. It is easy to get ahead of ourselves when we start to reflect on how we can improve or maintain current relationships. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself as much as possible. You’ve chosen your company for a reason so enjoy it. Of course, there are risks, but there are risks to everything you will encounter in life, so that shouldn’t stop you from having some fun!

Unless you or the other person are at immediate risk of physical or emotional danger, then pull it back and do some analysis of your current situation. If there are issues that have come to light, then address them. The best policy is honesty as awkward, shocking, or hurtful as it may make things. If something is bugging you, you have to risk digging up the surface to get to the root issues. So have fun, but be cautious and unafraid to speak up if something doesn’t feel right.


Future

For some, the future is easier to deal with than others. There are people who are happy-go-lucky and the future is the last thing they concern themselves with. YOLO all the way and having adventures in the moment, even if they might regret it in the morning are always on their agenda.

For others, the opposite is the case. The future is always sneaking up on us, especially when we’re least expecting it! We always have to keep it in the back of our minds otherwise we’ll miss out on opportunities that everyone else seemed keyed into. For myself, I tend to fall into this camp of overthinking and as a result, overplanning.

Whether more of a dreamer or a planner, the future has a way of getting into all of our minds. Big changes especially make the future come to the forefront. It can be a friend moving away or transferring schools. It can be a break-up with a current significant other, or worse, the loss of a family member or loved one.

And when these unexpected changes hit us, they make us requestion everything we once knew to be true! We can turn to the past, reflect on the present, but what perhaps gets us most is what tomorrow will bring, and how it changes who we are and what happens to us.

Time can also come into play to make us start pulling for our tarot cards and crystal balls to get a peak of what our future decisions will bring. When a relationship has developed over an extended period of time, you can start to question what the future will bring for both of you. Especially in romantic relationships, the pressure to move too fast can be a lot. It’s almost as if after you’ve been together for a year or more everyone’s chomping at the bit of when you’ll move in together, get married, or have a kid.

At times of change, crisis, and curiosity, it’s important to remind yourself of what you do know to be true. Yes, a lot is changing or the possibility of change might be on its way, but you still have control over some things. You know who you are, what you want, and what you hope to accomplish. You can only hope that the people in your life are there to support you along the way. Not every decision you make will please them, but sometimes you have to do what’s gonna best move you forward to put yourself at ease.

But you can only control so much. Just like dwelling on the past can waste time and energy, so can dedicating your time to the future! It’s good to reflect, and to ponder, but you can’t have it eat up all of your current time. Take the time you need, but consider your given circumstances that you trust and love to be true. And if you still are worried, then don’t be afraid to have these conversations that concern your relationships with others. You may find that the others in your life share these same fears as well!

Looking at our past, present, and future relationships can be daunting, but it’s important to dedicate time to them. It can help you realize discoveries about your relationships as well as yourself in what you really want out of yourself and from others. So whenever you’re feeling stuck or lost in navigating the people in your life, allow yourself the time to come to terms with them and what your concerns are really about.