7 Signs Your Partner's Relationship Baggage Is Holding Them Back

by Kristine Fellizar
BDG Media, Inc.

One of the best things about being in a relationship with someone new is having a clean slate. There's so much potential for what your relationship can eventually become, that everything feels good. However, your smooth road to long-term relationship bliss can turn rocky when you realize that your partner is still holding on to baggage from a past relationship. According to experts, that baggage can prevent you from having that loving relationship you truly want.

"Regardless of how serious their previous relationship was, people are often unable to fully disconnect without sufficient time," Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "This is especially true when they experienced emotional trauma or heartbreak, which typically manifests itself in pathological skepticism and the unwillingness to be vulnerable and committed."

Unfortunately, Backe says, an inability to invest in your current relationship is not easy to resolve. In addition to taking time, it also requires significant open communication in order to tackle any underlying issues. If not, your partner might keep you at a distance until they're fully ready. When you've finally met someone that you're interested in pursuing a committed relationship with, waiting for them to become emotionally ready might be the last thing you want to do.

So here are some signs that your partner's last relationship is to blame for holding them back from fully committing to you, according to experts.


They Blow Hot And Cold

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One week they're telling you that they might be in love with you, and the next it's "going too fast." According to Lisa Concepcion, certified love coach and founder of LoveQuest Coaching, inconsistency is a major sign that your partner's last relationship is holding them back. "This tends to happen because they didn't heal from the past relationship and cultivate deep love of self," she says. "Now, they are fearful if they fall in love again, they'll just get burned. This sets up a codependent relationship where one person is soothing the other in order to make them happy, which isn't anyone's responsibility."


They Get Upset When You Do Something That Their Ex Used To Do

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"If your significant other is constantly comparing you to their previous partner, it could be a sign they are stuck in the previous relationship and aren't able to fully engage with you in the present one," relationship counselor Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, director of the Baltimore Therapy Center tells Bustle. When someone has baggage from a past relationship, little things you say or do may trigger them to react in a negative way. If this is happening to you, Bilek suggests "gently" bringing this up. "Ask if they still have unresolved issues from the previous relationship," he says. "Talking it through with you or a professional counselor could be helpful in unhooking from the previous partner so they can focus on you and your current relationship."


They Always React When Their Ex Posts Something On Social Media

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"If you're over your ex, you've probably unfollowed, or at least muted them, on social media," Amica Graber, Relationship Expert for TruthFinder, tells Bustle. "But if your partner likes, comments, and reacts to every little thing an ex posts, they may be living in the past." It's totally common to feel bummed out to find your ex dating someone new, even if you're already with someone yourself. But if you're in a new relationship, you shouldn't be actively looking at your ex's social media posts. Like Graber says, they should be unfollowed or at the very least, muted. If this is a problem you should bring up how uncomfortable your partner's reactions to their ex's social media makes you feel. If they're serious about wanting a relationship with you, unfollowing and deleting exes should be no problem.


They Aren't Fully Tuned In To Your Emotional Needs

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If your partner seems hesitant during intimate moments, Susan Golicic, PhD, certified relationship coach and Co-founder of Uninhibited Wellness tells Bustle, it could be due to their last relationship. "Not being over the hurt from a prior relationship often manifests through the person 'keeping their guard up' to protect themselves," she says. "This means they are not allowing themselves to get too close." When this happens, you'll notice that communication slows down once things start moving in a positive direction. In general, they'll just start to pull away. "If your partner is showing signs it's best to discuss it and give them time and space to deal with the emotion that is still there," Golicic says. "They won't and can't fully commit or even love you if they don't. Their heart needs to be whole and open in order for the new relationship to grow and have any chance of success."


They Ask Questions That Seem Controlling

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"Trust can often be an issue when entering into a relationship with someone who has been betrayed or cheated on in the past," Avilone Bailey, Relationship Expert and Emotional Relief Catalyst, tells Bustle. If this is the case, your partner may bombard you with "controlling" type of questions such as: Where are you going? Who's going to be there? Why do you need to go right now? Your partner may need a lot of reassurance in order to feel secure in the relationship. "They may need to know that where you say you’re going is true and not a hidden opportunity to hook up with someone else," Bailey says. "Your consistent honesty and patience may succeed in restoring their ability to trust again."


They Tell You That They're So Much Happier With You

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Who doesn't like hearing that their partner is much happier now that they're with you? While it's a good ego booster, Concepcion says it could be a major red flag. "Regardless of good or bad, any energy spent on the ex is energy robbed from the new relationship," she says. People often jump from one relationship to the next thinking they can use the new relationship to get over the old one. But what typically ends up happening is that "core issues" are never fully dealt with. "The opportunity for healing is squandered and people end up repeating patterns in their relationships," she says. You should be able to be there and listen to your partner when they have something important to discuss. But if your partner keeps talking about their past relationships and it's making you annoyed or uncomfortable, let them know. Making comparisons like, "You make me so much happier than any of my other relationships," means your partner is still holding on to something from the past.


They Talk To You About "Needing Closure"

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"If your partner didn’t do the breaking up, [they] might still need closure," Samantha Daniels, Dating Expert and Founder of Samantha’s Table Matchmaking tells Bustle. "There might be a lot of things [they] didn’t get to say that they needed to say. If this is the case, they might be bringing that upset into your current relationship." When your partner is still stuck over needing closure, there's going to be distance between you. According to Daniels, the best thing you can do for them is to let them talk it through with you. "At least they can feel like they said it out loud," she says.

If your partner is still holding on to past baggage and it's preventing you from having that close relationship that you want, relationship coaches Diana and Todd Mitchem tell Bustle you need to ask yourself if you're willing to wait for your partner to be emotionally ready. "If you feel that your relationship is great and you are OK with your partner's emotional unavailability, then by all means, continue on this path," they say. "However, if you are not happy and feel emotionally cheated on, then you will have to take that huge step to end the relationship."

It's a tough decision to make. If you truly believe your partner is worth it, there's absolutely nothing wrong with waiting. Who knows? Being there for them might bring you closer together. But if not, that's OK too. You deserve to be with someone who's committed to giving you 100 percent of themselves. Letting go won't be easy, but you will find someone who is ready for a relationship and will give you the relationship that you want.