The Problem With Romanticizing Your Past


Whenever I leave a far-from-perfect job for a better one, I temporarily forget all the hardships of the job I’m resigning from, putting it on a pedestal and romanticizing it simply because it’s slipping away from my fingers.

My husband Brian joked, “The only time you like your job is when you’re about to leave it.” Which is a tragic way to live. You’ll never be happy in the present if you romanticize your past.

I do the same thing with ex-boyfriends.

Remember the guy who broke my heart and grew my balls? It just dawned on me that my romanticized recollection of the infamous Mr. “Me, But With A Penis” made it so that for the longest time, Brian could never live up to him. It’s why I went so long without being able to say, “I love you” to the guy who would eventually become my husband. In fact, Brian and I would say “Meatloaf, Hugh Jackman” instead, because “loaf” and “Hugh” spoken one right after the other sounds like “Love you”…and that’s as close as I could get to being verbally affectionate with someone who wasn’t my romanticized ex-boyfriend.

Reality is hard to swallow, especially when fantasy lets us erase pain, drown out imperfection, close our eyes to our own mistakes, and avoid healthy risks we must take to build the life we want. Time also has a way of exaggerating the truth. But a sober view of your past enables you to make sober decisions in the present, so that you’re not a weirdo who says things like “Meatloaf, Hugh Jackman” to your boyfriend.

Your Turn: Have you ever romanticized the past in a way that sabotaged your ability to be happy in the present?

Photo Sources: Photo #1, Photo #2

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7 Responses to The Problem With Romanticizing Your Past

  1. Pingback: 5 Tips For People Who Want An Expensive Degree (And 1 Tip For Those Cursing Their Damn Diploma) | a brave life

  2. DIL says:

    When it comes to the past, “the truth shall set you free.” We tend to learn very little if anything of value from the lies we invent to cover up our flaws, past or present. Romanticizing the past leaves no room for honest self-assessment and healthy change. We just have to grow the balls to be honest with ourselves. But you knew that.

  3. Brian says:

    I forgot about Meatloaf Hugh Jackman. Good little post.

    • Kimberly says:

      Scrambled up you’ve got “Jack your ManMeat”, or “Hug(h) your loaf, man”. So many excellent combinations…

  4. Jamile says:

    Just found your blog and I really like it! I’ve been making my way through your archives and that mixture of humor and self-help stuff is totally my jam. I totally romantize the past, not only the positives tho’, my favorite is to get hung up on losses. Ugh. Working on it tho’. It is a descructive habit, I’m pretty sure I’ve lost years to it. No Bueno.

    • Kimberly says:

      Hi, Jamile! Welcome to ABL! Ahh, getting hung up on losses. Been there, and I’ve lost years to it, like you. No beuno indeed. You called it a “habit” and I’d have to agree– the way the we think becomes automatic over the years, and unless we deliberately practice an alternative, nothing changes. Unlike humans or animals, habits don’t just eventually die over time.

      Also, to be one’s jam is the greatest honor any website can have! Woo-hoo! :) Thanks so much for checking us out and I hope to see you in the comments again some time!

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