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What on earth do I do with my relationship baggage?

Posted on February 5th, 2010

Let’s deviate for a moment and discuss baggage in general. Everyone has some form of baggage from a relationship or a nasty break up or divorce. Without being insensitive, if we are really committed to our next relationship working beautifully, we need to purge that baggage, or manage it. Before we can do that, let’s examine the types of baggage we drag around with us…

  • The ‘Waiting to be Hurt’ Baggage – You react emotionally to the hurt from your past.
  • The ‘Ex’ Baggage – You just can’t get over your ex-husband and hold on to the idea that the ex may come back into your life OR alternatively you compare EVERYONE new to your ex. Sadly, if you cannot come to grips with a relationship’s end or see a new person you are dating for who they are, you will be unable to function in a new relationship…
  • The ‘Angry Woman’ Baggage – This is the most damaging kind of relationship baggage where you are just extremely angry at men. You blame men for all your problems. Men are “jerks” and “users.”
  • The ‘I’m not attractive enough’ Baggage – This issue usually crops up due to a history with an ex who may have spent time constantly appraising other women’s beauty or spent time berating your own beauty or body.
  • The ‘He’s bound to cheat on me’ Baggage – Most people have good instincts about their partners’ fidelity. The great exception: People who’ve been cheated on. If you have been burned you might not be able to trust your instinct, may see affairs everywhere and may not be able to clearly judge.
  • The ‘I don’t satisfy him in bed’ Baggage – This baggage usually develops due to a history with a particular ex.
  • The ‘I’m doomed to get dumped’ Baggage – You will tend to manifest your worst fears happening.

Learning to unpack your personal Samsonite won’t just help your own psyche; it’ll also help you empathize with your new man. Because guess what? That guy you’re dating? He’s standing there with a suitcase and garment bag, too.

Day 17 of The Naked Divorce Program deals extensively with how to rid yourself from relationship baggage and the dreaded ‘ex hexes’ for good, but in the mean time, here are some tips…
Here are some tips to practice in your next relationship..

  1. Just because certain ex-partners may have mistreated you in the past, don’t make the sweeping assumption that every single person you date from this point forward will treat you shabbily as well. Each new person you meet has the right to be evaluated based on his own unique merits and flaws, (as opposed to being evaluated based on your past relationship experiences). You certainly don’t want to miss out on getting to know a potential “Mr. Perfect-For-You” because you are too busy unfairly projecting your past negative relationship experiences onto him!
  2. Obsessing over certain painful incidents or relationships from your past is not healthy. (Actually, obsessing about anything is not terribly healthy). In fact, it’s akin to playing a negative tape loop over and over again in your head, and it is definitely not conducive to creating happier, healthier relationship experiences.
  3. A past difficult relationship should not cause you to give up completely on all relationships and/or potential relationships. Granted, it is perfectly understandable to feel sad, angry, bereaved, and even somewhat bitter in the immediate aftermath of a painful, failed relationship, but FOCUS on what you want to have happen rather than on what you don’t want to have happen.
  4. People who feel insecure and/or who suffer from low self-esteem sometimes consciously or unconsciously sabotage their love relationships by engaging in behaviours that could potentially drive their partners away in order to confirm their own worst fears and beliefs about themselves. Don’t fall into this all-too-common insecurity trap!
  5. Remember that your painful relationship history need not repeat itself over and over and over again, with only the most miniscule of variations (like some excruciatingly painful version of that Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day.)

On that note, always bear in mind that you actually have an enormous say in the creation of your own destiny. And if you put your mind to it, you truly can break free from past destructive dating patterns.
Of course it is extremely important to protect yourself emotionally, especially if you have experienced more than your fair share of difficult, or humiliating, or even traumatic romantic relationships in the past. However, every aspect of life, including dating, involves a certain degree of risk-taking. And while it can be incredibly hard to open your heart and make yourself vulnerable to a potential new dating partner (especially if you have been hurt repeatedly in the past), please remember that life sometimes requires us to take a leap of faith so that we can continue to grow emotionally. Therefore, if you have recently met a good, kind, loving, emotionally whole and healthy person who would like nothing more than to start a relationship with you, then get ready to take that leap.

There is a great deal more covered in my book.

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