You’ve made your New Year’s resolutions, and this year you’re sticking to them, by gum! You’ve set new diet goals, fitness goals and spending – oops, make that budgeting - goals. You even have a new relationship this year, or one that solidified as the New Year began. Oh happy day, all is well. You feel energize, thrilled to start the New Year with so many good things in place.

And then your new live-in Sweetheart or Spouse does something that reminds you of your ex. . . like is late to pick you up from the auto mechanic, or forgets to pay a bill, or misses the hamper more often than not. . . and within seconds you’re either panicked or yelling. Your new love is mystified – why the over-the-top reaction? What happened to the loving, caring, serene person you were a moment ago?

That loving, caring, serene person disappeared as you dragged the “What I hated-s” of your old relationship into the new. Yes, your new love was late picking you up from the mechanic, leaving you stranded with nothing but the Precision Parts catalogue to occupy you, but that does not mean that he shares your ex’s chronic-lateness-disorder. It means he was late. This time. This once.

Same with forgetting to pay a bill (you’ve never forgotten to pay something??), or missing the hamper. It may be a once-in-a-while thing, or even a once-only thing. But most importantly, he’s NOT your ex. And it is highly unlikely that you’ve managed to pair up with a clone of your ex. So step back from your panic or anger, and deal with your new Sweetheart’s behavior as just that, behavior. Not as a fatal character flaw that’s about to tank your coupled bliss.

Don’t drag your old relationship into the new. Just like you’re not dragging your old diet struggles, workout mishaps or overspending habits into the new. You’re establishing new ways, new approaches with your New Year’s resolutions. Do the same with your new relationship.

If you don’t like something, don’t panic or assume ex-ness, speak what you’ve observed and how you feel about it: “When you are late to pick me up, I get panicky because I need to feel safe and secure.”

Your “because,” your reason, is important. It’s how you stay away from blaming your new spouse, as in “When you are late to pick me up, I get panicky because I’m terrified you’re just like my ex and going to leave me in the lurch all the time!” As true as that feeling may be for you, take a deep breath, treat your new love like the new person in your life he is, and speak to your need, not to his projected awfulness.

Then make a request: “Would you please pick me up on time tomorrow?” Preferably using a kind, non-judgmental tone of voice. I know, it’s hard, but you’re a grown-up, you can do this.

If you don’t leap to the conclusion that your new sweetheart’s flaws and foibles are repeats of your ex’s, you’ll treat him differently. Chances are excellent that he will then respond differently than your ex would have, and you really can experience that new, better, improved relationship you so desire.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, consultant, speaker and author. Her latest book is "Your Man is Wonderful," (Free Press, 2009). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives through appreciation--at work, at home and in relationships. E-mail:, website: