Check in your emotional baggage

by rodney on May 29, 2012

There’s a lot of emphasis on baggage when starting relationships, particularly emotional baggage. It’s seen as something negative. Too often people are discouraged by how much baggage a potential mate has, the goal being to find someone with no baggage. But is this possible?

Emotional baggage refers to the emotions that are left when a relationship ends. Given that we all feel emotions and have all had relationships end, we all have some form of emotional baggage. The difference is on the amount of baggage. Some of us have small carry-on baggage while some of us have over the standard 20 kilos.

Either way, emotional baggage isn’t a bad thing. It’s important. It is the lessons we have learned from past failures and it keeps us from making the same mistakes (well, hopefully it does). Where emotional baggage becomes negative is when it drives the actions of new relationships.  The girl who is suspicious and jealous of her new boyfriend because her ex cheated on her, or the boy who emotionally distances himself from his new girlfriend because his ex left him. These actions are sure to ruin a new relationship before it starts.

The best way to give new relationships a boost is to let go of our baggage. Not get rid of it, just put it down, check it in and store it underneath and get it later. Easier said than done? Maybe not. Here are some check-in tips before you board your new relationship.

Give yourself time.

Believe it or not, you will go through a grief process of your past relationship. There’s going to be a mixture of emotions and you need to experience them, get them out so you can heal. How much time depends on you.  Can you think and talk about your ex without tearing up? Has all the thoughts of revenge gone away?  Have you stopped talking about them to all your friends? You’re probably ready.

Do something different.

One way to ensure that your new relationship doesn’t turn out to be a re-run of your past one is to do something different, anything.  Met your ex-partner in a bar? Try somewhere different- yoga class, the library, online.  Was your ex-partner a tradesman? Try a professional. Had sex on the first date? Try later. Keep doing things differently. If you do the same, you will get the same.

Your new partner is not your ex.

Just because your ex cheated on you, or hurt you, doesn’t mean your new partner will. Acting as if they have or will is not fair. It’s punishing them before they have done anything.  Until something happens, you need to give total trust to your new partner. It doesn’t work if they have to earn it first.  This is the hardest part of any new relationship, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past, however, if you can find the courage to do it, you may reap some fantastic rewards.

Your partner has baggage too.

As I said, we’ve all had relationships that have ended; therefore, we all have emotional baggage, including your new partner. Why don’t you open that baggage and let them see inside? Not only will your partner have a greater understanding of the baggage you’re carrying around, you’re also likely to become much closer, enhancing your relationship.

Checking in your emotional baggage is not an easy thing to do. It requires reflection, soul searching, trust and risk. The benefits, however, are a great start to your next relationship. Given that the baggage is an opportunity to learn from our past, checking-in is an opportunity to grow.

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