When it comes past relationship baggage, most of us have something that we're carrying around with us. If you've had a difficult or traumatic relationship in the past, or even just a bad breakup, it's easy to carry issues from one relationship into the next.
"Having emotional baggage definitely affects the way we behave in future relationships if we don’t get rid of it," life coach Tiffany Toombs tells Bustle. The trick is to know when your baggage is influencing your actions, so you can keep it from having a negative impact on your relationship.
So the first step is recognizing that you've carried baggage from your last relationship into the next one. Some of the time, that may be obvious — like if you've always been cheated on in the past and you become paranoid about a new partner cheating on you. But often, baggage doesn't make itself that easy to spot. You may have a slight overreaction here, a misunderstanding there, or maybe just a worry or sense of dread that you have trouble placing.
But it's important to remember that everybody has issues they're dealing with. As long as you can identify them and start to work at resolving them, you should be able to carry on just fine. So here are the signs you need to look out for, according to experts.
1. You Feel Tired Or Withdrawn
Sometimes emotional baggage drains you, but you don't even realize that it's happening.
"Emotional baggage affects our energy levels (the more baggage we have the more fatigued we feel), our beliefs about ourselves (the most common beliefs being that one isn’t good enough or worthy of love), and how we show our love for others (are we needy? withdrawn?)," Toombs says. If you notice that you feel like you're not yourself or not comfortable in your own skin, that may be why.
2. You Still Feel Connected To An Ex
Sometimes an ex is still so present in your mind that it's interfering with your current relationship — even if you have an amicable relationship. "We become energetically linked to people, especially when we’ve been intimate with them," says Toombs. "If we don’t sever these ties in some form, our ex partners can continue to suck energy from us, which affects our ability to move forward fully."
If you notice your ties to your ex are affecting your current relationship, it's important to expel the problem so you can move on. Maybe you need to stop inviting your ex to events — or maybe you just need to delete every connection with them. Photos, Twitter, everything — just start deleting and unfollowing.
3. You Can Feel Yourself React Disproportionately
If you notice you're starting to act irrationally, the key is to communicate to your partner about what's going on. "Let your partner know what you’re sensitive to and when it happens," Anita Chlipala, a relationship coach and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Bustle. "But there has to be balance. It’s not up to your partner to 'fix' it or make it go away. They can modify their behavior and be sensitive to it, but it’s also up to you to manage it, and especially to not take things personally."
4. You're Trying To Recreate Your Last Relationship
Some people are carrying around so much baggage from an ex that they start to try to shape their current relationship to match their last one — often without realizing it. "If you find yourself constantly comparing a current relationship to a past relationship or wishing that your current partner was more like a previous partner, it may be a sign that you’re not over the baggage of that previous relationship," Caitlin Bergstein, a matchmaker at Three Day Rule tells Bustle.
5. You Play The Victim
If you feel like nothing is ever your fault, that in itself can be a sign of relationship baggage. "By playing the victim all of the time, you are holding on to the things that have hurt you in the past by blaming others," Bergstein says. "Until you can recognize your own faults and admit when you’re in the wrong in a given situation, your new relationship will suffer." Think of past relationships — or current issues you're struggling with — if you can't think of anything you've done wrong, that might be something you need to explore.
6. You Pick Fights
Do you feel argumentative, but you're not sure why? "Most likely, you don’t realize you’re doing this until after the fight has been picked but picking unnecessary fights to test your partners limits won’t help strengthen your current relationship," Berstein says. "It really just shows that you are not ready or available emotionally and you are trying to push them away, likely because of your own baggage." If you make a fight out of every little thing, you may need to take some space.
7. You're Dismissive
If you never really let your partner in — or you're dismissive of them — that might be a sign that you're not over your past. "Being vulnerable is hard but it’s a part of any relationship," Bergstein says. "If you find yourself unable to let your new partner in emotionally or don’t involve them in your life (for example, they haven’t met any of your friends or family), you’re likely holding on to some hurt and baggage from a past relationship." Look at why you're not taking this relationship seriously.
8. You Look For The Same Issues
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and the owner of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle that one sign we're carrying baggage is that we assume our current partner will make the same mistakes as our last one. If you were cheated on or if they would never commit — or even if the relationship just lacked proper communication — you might start to see the same problem again, even when it's not there.
9. You're Short-Tempered With Your Partner
If you're not as kind to your partner as you should be, Trombetti says you may be punishing them for your last relationship. If you feel yourself being short-temperated or contemptuous, you may want to take a moment to remember who you're really angry at.
If you realize that you have issues from a past relationship, that's OK — most of us do. Take a deep breath and see if it's time to work through it. Talk to your partner, your friends, or a therapist. You — and your relationship — will be stronger for it.