The Vehicle for POSiTiVE Change

Clearing out your Relationship Closet

Posted on Jul 26, 2016 |

Clearing out your Relationship Closet

Sometimes the best memories are the ones you have to lose – Anon

We all have relationships that clutter our minds and emotions and some that may even smother us, ones we need to clear from our lives. There doesn’t need to be a special time of the year to clear out your clothes closets just as there isn’t a special time of the year to clear out your relationships closet. I am sure most of you reading this have people in your lives that affect you in a not so great way daily or frequently. People who drain the life energy from you, or treat you appallingly, misuse your trust or friendship, or just make you feel lousy when you are in their company. People who when they telephone you and when your see their number on the phone screen you just cringe and sigh and just don’t want to speak with them. These people you need to clear from your life if you are to move onwards and enjoy your life to its full.

Ask yourself of these relationships, ‘Why do you let them remain in your life’? What do you get from them? Why do you still spend time and energy on them if all they do is drain your energy and fill your life with negativity? Why do you persist with the relationship? Do you feel a need because of some long gone debt of some sort?

Start to put up boundaries and start to distant yourself from them. It is your choice if you send time with them; it is your choice if you answer the telephone to them. If you really feel you need to spend some time with them, then make the time short and set the boundaries before you meet. Be honest with yourself and with them. Then decide what needs to be done.

Of course relationships with our parents and siblings also affect our lives and we have huge hang ups from those relationships too, but that is a whole other subject and we can’t really clear our closets of our parents and siblings. But we can of our ex friends and boyfriends / girlfriends /ex partners/spouses.

However you may not realise it, but people who aren’t in your life anymore could still be affecting you on a daily basis. Hang-ups from past relationships can fill your life with physical, psychological and emotional clutter that distracts you from living in the present and moving forward to a happy, healthy future.

For example if you had a broken relationship, marriage /love affair you may have taken their picture off the wall and out of your purse/wallet, but if it’s still tucked away safely in your top drawer or bedside table, you haven’t begun to let go of the physical clutter associated with that past relationship.

I knew someone who for years kept his ex wife’s reading glasses in his bedside drawer, every night he would open the drawer and see them and be reminded of her and what he thought he was missing. It prevented him from having any further physical relationships with a new partner because he always felt his ex wife was watching him. In a way she was because her reading glasses stared at him every night. The same goes for that high school soccer shirt you sleep in when you’re feeling lonely or the bottle of their perfume/aftershave you spray in the air when you miss them, or the dried bunch of roses they bought you on valentine’s day, or you repeatedly play the song over and over again that was ‘your song’.

Letting go of an ex’s stuff is an important step in letting go of them. If you’re not sure you’re yet ready to get rid of all their stuff or even them, at least remove it from your sight. Put it all in a box, seal it with tape and put it in the garage, the garden shed, the attic. It won’t be gone completely that way, but you’ll have to make a concerted effort to get it all out again and it may make you think twice. It is a step in the right direction. As you move on from the relationship, you will probably forget you still have all that stuff and hopefully, one day you’ll find it all and laugh at how hung up you were on someone who was so wrong for you!

If you hold on and don’t let go of the past and the hurts, psychological hang-ups from these old relationships can build up and create mental and emotional clutter that you just can’t seem to shake. You may not even realise the extent of it as it has become so ingrained with-in.

For example, you have a low cut sparkly mini dress hanging in your closet that you haven’t touched in years it is at least two sizes too small and you wouldn’t be seen dead in it, but because an ex boyfriend told you it made you look like Cher you have kept it and won’t let it go. Or perhaps you totally overreact when your new partner leaves their underwear on the floor, just because your ex partner was a total slob and it reminds you of him. Or they don’t clean the bathroom after themselves and again it reminds you of the slobbery of your last relationship. .

While it’s important to break negative patterns in your life, you also have to make sure you’re not allowing mistakes from the past to haunt your future. Learn from previous relationships what you really do not like and what you do like, but also be open to taking risks in the future. Take a step back to analyze whether you’re acting from your own psyche and what really genuinely disturbs you and probably always has, or the psychological clutter your old relationships have left in their wake.

Sometimes your own emotional needs can become cluttered with emotional hangovers from previous relationships. If previous relationships have ended because of infidelity it may clutter your life with trust issues and fear of commitment. If a previous partner was bossy or controlling, you may find yourself demanding unreasonable amounts of independence from a new relationship. If you had been a relationship with someone who was cold or aloof and distant it may cause you to be extra needy for emotional reassurances from your next relationship/s.

The best way to clear emotional clutter is to take time to reset your emotions. Instead of jumping from one relationship to the next, spend some time by yourself so that you can re-center yourself and your emotions, free of the clutter of a relationship that you now know wasn’t right for you. By doing this you will learn about yourself and your needs and desires. Start to have a happy relationship with yourself and then you can embrace a new relationship when you are ready.

It is possible that you have never been single since you started dating many years ago as a teenager. There is nothing wrong in being single in fact it is very liberating and freeing. Just because all Hollywood movies, magazines, and media make it seem that you are only normal if you are in a relationship that is far from reality. It is very normal and very healthy not to be attached at the hip with someone.

Take time to find out who you are, what your needs are, what is it that makes you happy in a relationship. Then when you are ready and your mind is clear then it may be time to start dating again, making new friends and leading a happy content life.


Action Challenge

In your journal write down the names of people /friends /relationships that are causing you anguish in your life.

 Next to each one write down why you let them do what they do.

 How does it make you feel or affect your mood when you are in their company and afterwards.

Why do you keep them in your life, do you owe them a debt of some sort.

 Write down all the pro’s and cons of the relationships, be honest with yourself. Does their negativity or abuse fill a need in you, or reaffirm to you some deep seated false negative belief you have about yourself and your worthiness as a friend/partner.

 When you know the answers to the above, then either let them go from your life, or set up boundaries with-in the relationship that you are happy with.

 Next think about how you act with new relationships. Are you overly needy, bossy, do you get irritated quickly at things your new friend/partner/lover, does?

 Write those reactions down, then analyze why you are doing it. What is it triggering off in you?

 Is it because it reminds you of another relationship and what that person did or didn’t do.

 Are you holding on to items from past relationships, and outdated ideas? If so look at each thing individually. See what it brings up in your memory, feel it, grieve if you have to, then let it go.

 Give yourself time to heal and to find you. Think about what it is you really want, what you don’t like and what you do like.

 If you have difficulty doing any of these things perhaps book coaching sessions or therapy sessions with me, or someone else you trust. Or attend a workshop on letting go or similar.

Love yourself, you are worth it!


Written by

Julie Lomas who is based in Bahrain.  For her forthcoming workshops, please visit her website below…


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