Bringing Up The Past In Arguments (13 Reasons Why)

by April Maccario

People are different; while many believe the mistakes they have made shouldn’t be brought up again, others use things their partners have done before to understand their character. 

Sadly, this comes off as holding a grudge, and to be honest, sometimes it is. When sensitive things are brought up, the person on the hot seat feels betrayed and hurt.

“I thought we had talked about it, you said you’d forgiven me!”

There are no lies here, it’s painful. No one is perfect, and sometimes, it hurts hearing your significant other bring up events that were supposed to be forgotten. 

Yes, those things shouldn’t be used as an avenue to manipulate people into doing anything. However, there are times a reference has to be made, especially when you’re being accused of things the other party has also been guilty of, or when trying to compare situations. Regardless of the excuse, the partner whose case is being referenced will always take offense.

So, how do we validate bringing up things from the past? Even more, why do we do it when we know it could hurt the other party? Well, let’s get some answers below. 

13 Reasons Why People Bring Up Past Events in Arguments

1. They feel invalidated

Everyone wants to feel heard and understood, especially in a romantic relationship. They crave to know that their partner understands them emotionally and can see through the silent words their actions are screaming. They also want their partner to be aware when certain actions affect them in specific ways.  

When somebody feels invalidated, they look for ways to seek attention. They would constantly bring up topics that are supposed to be forgotten. This is an avenue to make the other party recall how certain events went and begin to understand how they felt. 

Though this is a major intention, it’s usually not perceived by the other party in this manner. The partner feels hurt when past mistakes are continually brought up. They feel it was brought up in a malicious manner to win the argument. 

If you feel invalidated, it’s important to have a sit and talk with your better half and discuss events, rather than indirectly gaslighting them. They will appreciate and value you more. 

2. You might be trying too hard to fix the issues

you might be trying too hard to fix the issue

Women are more expressive than men. They always want to express their feelings, regardless of how they may be perceived. In a scenario where a lady is bothered or worried, a man would try to do some problem-solving. His major goal is making her feel better, whereas, all she wants is for him to listen and understand her issues.

When a guy tries too hard to fix a problem, it makes him look uninterested in the woman’s true feelings. The woman perceives that the man is trying to dismiss the matter and showing disinterest. When she feels this way, she’s bound to bear a grudge. 

Your partner may have the habit of jumping to advise when you’re presenting your concerns. It’s best to let him know that you’d just prefer if he listens without contributing for a while.

3. Something is missing 

When your better half keeps exhibiting a specific behavior towards you, there’s a message behind it. They might be trying to tell you that something is missing in the relationship, and they desperately need you to fix it. Not everyone may be outspoken about certain subjects. They would rather show signs and hope you quickly get the message.

Though it’s more difficult to interpret issues in a relationship, it’s still important to learn how to communicate effectively. If you feel your partner wants to tell you something but doesn’t know how to, you have to call them to order. They might be trying to pin things against you, or constantly recalling past events. Instead of getting offended, ask them what the real issue is. 

Everyone deals with their emotions differently. Some might keep a grudge to make you realize what they want. Though it’s not the best behavior, it’s up to you to resolve it as soon as you get the hint.

4. Unhandled issues

When couples fight, it’s important that both partners have a discussion about the argument later on, don’t brush it under the carpet. You may feel better about what your loved one did, still, ensure you discuss your feelings after every argument. If you fail to do so, those issues would go unresolved, and one of you may still feel the hurt.

So, maybe weeks or months later, when a similar thing happens, both of you would have to resist the urge to bring up the last incident. So, instead of trying to brush matters aside, handle them as they come. 

5. Suppressed emotions

Many individuals struggle with communicating effectively, even in relationships. They have their point of view on a matter, but when the other partner is dominant, it’s hard to get those points across. 

In these situations, such individuals will have a lot of suppressed emotions, especially when arguments occur. If their better half can’t detect their inability to communicate properly, the matter goes unresolved. The truth is, someone who suppresses a lot of emotions would eventually let it out someday and you won’t like what they have to say. 

Your better half would suddenly bring up past events in an argument because they were unable to communicate it to you before. Now, they’ve reached a point where they can’t hold it in anymore. 

It’s important to be conscious of the lack of communication in your relationship. If you suspect your better half might not be communicating well, seek ways to make it better even though it means losing the argument.

6. The inability to let things go

Everyone handles disputes quite differently. Some might forget about the altercation and forgive the actions of the individual, while others would choose to hold onto the issue.  These people find it difficult to let go of things because they were probably hurt by somebody close to them before. 

When people experience a major disappointment, they develop a mindset that others might hurt them as well. Holding onto things is the only way they’ll remember that disappointment could happen again. Individuals like this also try not to get too comfortable around people. They keep their guard up because they don’t want to be surprised when people hurt them again. 

7. Misinterpretation of moods

Women are expressive with their emotions, meaning they can go from being happy to sad in the instance something happens. In such a situation, they want to feel the emotion first, before pausing to process it. On the other hand, a guy would rather process his emotions first before reacting. This can easily cause misinterpretation in a relationship.

The lady might be reacting to something, while the guy thinks it’s another thing. He might even feel that she’s mad at him for something. The time he takes to process her mood may cause him to derail from what he’s expected to ask.

He may end up asking things like, “What did I do again?” which may come off as offensive to the lady. In such a situation, asking her what her real issues are and refraining from trying to interpret her mood will prevent her from holding a grudge and seeing the man as insensitive. 

8. Insecurity 

insecurity

When somebody is insecure, they invariably try to feel better by using other people’s flaws against them. To settle their inferiority complex, they hold on to the past events and scenarios that should be forgotten.  An individual can feel inferior to his better half in many ways. 

If their partner is better at everything while they’re still struggling to do the right things, sooner or later, they will feel inferior. To settle the score, they may try to make themselves look better by bringing up issues that should have been forgotten. They do this to create the impression that their better half is also flawed, especially when they feel attacked.

If your partner’s insecurities are getting the better part of them, then talk to them about it. Try to find out why they feel insecure and make them feel loved. If nothing gets better, then you know you’re not the cause of their insecurities

9. Manipulation

Though there are many understandable reasons why an individual will bring up past events in an argument, there are still some malicious intents that can sponsor this action. One of them is manipulation. Somebody who is constantly criticizing you and bringing up the past may be trying to manipulate you into doing, saying, or believing something.

Recalling an individual’s wrongdoings is a form of emotional abuse, which nobody has to go through. People can often see the signs of emotional abuse in other relationships but fail to notice when it’s happening to them. Little signs like these are ways to tell whether your partner is emotionally abusing you, or not.

The persistence in a person’s negative action can reveal if they have malicious intent or not. To protect yourself, make efforts to tell the difference between somebody who is truly hurt by what you did, and somebody who uses your past to get something from you. 

10. Dominance

Dominance is another sign of emotional abuse; it is also a major red flag. If your partner is constantly reminding you of your inadequacies, they may be trying to control you. More so, if they are constantly bringing up past events in an argument, it could be a way to make you feel ashamed. Shame, in particular, is also an easy way to dominate an individual.

It’s important to closely watch your partner and ensure they are not outrightly trying to control you. Watch out for other signs of dominance such as open humiliation, threats, outbursts, etc. It’s important to protect your well-being if you suspect your partner may be engaging in dishonest behavior.

Somebody who is trying to dominate a relationship would also find it hard to make corrections. Try to talk to your partner about their behaviors and see if they make efforts to change. If they don’t, but only turn your words against you, you should determine if the association is worth saving. 

11. Insufficient love

Love is one of the most important factors in a romantic relationship. Each party is expected to express love, and more importantly, express unconditional love. If a partner is constantly holding someone they claim they love to their wrongdoings, then that love is questionable. They might be struggling with their feelings for you, causing them to focus on your flaws. 

Being in a relationship with somebody means you should embrace their flaws and look for ways to work on them. Somebody who cannot accept yours, despite having theirs, may not be ready to build something profitable with you.

It’s important to access your partner’s actions and ensure their love for you is enough to keep things going. Make sure they’re willing to work on the problems in the relationship, without recalling negative occurrences. If this can’t be established, then it shouldn’t be worth saving.

12. Lack of investment in the relationship

Relationships have their ups and downs. Sometimes, you get the feeling that you’re putting in more effort to make the association work more than your partner. One party might love the other more and would want everything to be perfect. 

Regardless, it’s important to know when there’s a clear imbalance of emotions. If you feel like you’re the only one taking the relationship seriously, while your partner is simply tagging along, then you should take action.

Lack of investment in a relationship would make somebody eager to bring up past mistakes because to them, things are already failing. Problems like this can be solved if the two parties talk about the situation. However, if things can’t be corrected, then moving on should be the next option.

13. Arrogance

arrogance

There’s a thin line between arrogance and pride. A proud person is self-confident, while an arrogant person uses pride to cover their sloppiness and inadequacies. They struggle to cope with circumstances and are quite insecure. As a result, an arrogant person desperately needs to prove their self-worth and ride on others’ weaknesses.

When an arrogant person brings up past events in an argument, they try to elude the shame associated with losing the argument. They desperately need to prove themselves and show they are not as weak as you presume. To do this, they’ll go as far as recalling your failures, to make themselves look better. 

If you feel like your partner is arrogant, make them see reasons to work on it, and focus on building a profitable association. Help them see their good qualities, and help them build their self-esteem. If nothing works, you would have to determine if the relationship is really worth it. 

FAQs

What does it mean when someone keeps bringing up the past?

The major reason anyone keeps recalling past events is that they don’t feel heard. They feel the other person doesn’t fully understand how they feel. They are constantly bringing it up to let the other person know that the past issue is still affecting them. In other words, they’re saying, “How can we work on this problem?”

Why bringing up the past is bad?

Everyone has made a mistake at some point in their lives. Regardless, one thing that remains is that the past can’t be changed. No matter how much you talk about past events, they will never become different. It will only make your partner feel helpless, especially since they can’t do anything to correct their mistakes. 

What happens when people keep bringing up your mistakes?

When a person keeps bringing up your mistakes, it will hurt. Nonetheless, it’s important to acknowledge the other person’s feelings first, apologize if required, and then express how their persistent actions of recalling your mistakes are also affecting you. This allows the two of you to discuss what’s important, and then possibly solve the problem.

Is it okay to bring up the past in a relationship?

Everyone tries not to allow their pasts to define them, it can bring shame and regret to a person’s heart since they can’t change the events. Bringing up past events in a relationship isn’t right, since your partner might be struggling with them as well. Instead, try to effectively communicate how certain events might be affecting you in the relationship

What is belittling behavior?

Belittling behavior is an act or language that suggests somebody is smaller or inferior to you. Some of the belittling behavior signs include unnecessarily questioning someone’s choices or behaviors, teasing them, and correcting or dismissing what they say. Belittling behaviors also involves enforcing your demands and choices on others. 

In Conclusion

Did you enjoy going through this list? Remember that, a lot of times, the past is a painful subject. You might be belittling someone by constantly reminding them of events they can’t change. Instead, focus on resolving the real issue you’re having. Kindly leave a comment below if you liked this article, and don’t forget to share it with friends. 

April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

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