The advent of vintage — everything from vintage clothes and songs to filters on Instagram — illuminates just how obsessed millennials are with nostalgia. We love throwing it back to our favorite decade with ’90s-inspired costumes, hosting Friends marathon viewing parties and watching as if the episodes were real-time and gifting an entire decade’s worth of fads just to keep them alive. A little bit of nostalgia can be a good thing, but Gottman Institute Certified Therapist Zach Brittle says that in relationships, it might not be as healthy.
The role that nostalgia plays in a relationship is best exemplified by a high school reunion: You might not want to admit it, but being with your old friends (and flames) might make you yearn a little bit for the good ol’ days. These inevitable feelings are totally okay, Zach says.
“We are a product of our stories and relationships,” he told us. “To say that looking back fondly on those stories is wrong would be incorrect.”
While a little bit of nostalgia can be okay, taking it one step too far can morph into idolizing an old relationship — a practice that Zach advises against. And although some relationships are harmless to reminisce about (giggling about your kindergarten crush, for example), thinking and talking about relationships that are closer to the present one can turn into a threat for your S.O.
“I think about relationships on a broad spectrum,” Zach said. “Since they’re all so different, it’s hard to tell where to draw the line when it comes to reminiscing about them. Defaulting to keeping the present relationship primary is the best way to go.”
As a partner, Zach suggests being understanding and empathetic about nostalgia because it’s a natural human emotion that everyone is bound to experience. However, there is also a role to play for the partner experiencing the reminiscence.
“Nostalgia itself isn’t harmful,” he said. “However, choosing to focus on the present is more honoring to the other person.” Another way for a partner to ease a nostalgia-minded person back into the present is through letting them indulge — just a little — in the past. For example, instead of getting jealous about the old diner they used to take their ex to, offer to go with them so they can relive the experience.
Have any tips for getting over nostalgia? Tweet us @BritandCo!
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