In love, remember to check your baggage at the door

By Juliet O

A widely accepted law of dating states that the longer you date, the more baggage you accumulate. Thinking back to your earliest relationships, don’t certain words come to mind, like naive, innocent, simple? Things were so uncomplicated way back when all you had to worry about regarding love was a curfew and what your parents were going to say. A first love is such a beautiful thing, because the first loves seem so innocent, unbridled, and pastoral. But the moment you get hurt for the first time, everything changes. After our first loves wane away, we develop shells and shields and build walls — we close ourselves up out of defense, and we don’t let anyone access those deep, vulnerable parts of ourselves quite that way ever ever again. And like a hermit crab that carries everything on its back, we start dragging our baggage along everywhere.

But baggage can also destroy relationships, especially when one tries to hoist their baggage on someone else. Say that your baggage is the memory of your ex. And you take that memory with you everywhere, including on dates with new people, and your ex becomes the ubiquitous elephant in the room? That can definitely damage your chances at a new relationship. Or what if your particular baggage is the jealousy that you developed as the result of getting hurt in the past? Hoisting that baggage on a new, unsuspecting partner cannot possibly be conducive to a future relationship. And when you act jealously toward people, and they leave you because they can’t take it anymore, you only become more jaded and more jealous. The danger of baggage is that it has a way of multiplying itself.

So how do we deal with this baggage issue? We all suffer from it, so what are some things we can do to alleviate the weight of all this emotional baggage we carry? How do we keep all the baggage at bay when getting to know someone knew — and then continue to keep it at bay as we grow relationships with new people?

The answer is: we have to make sure we’ve checked our emotional baggage before starting a new relationship. A new boyfriend or girlfriend can’t carry your bags or get rid of your demons for you. Embarking on a new relationship when you haven’t healed from old ones will just add fuel to the flame, and give you more baggage to carry down the line. We have to make a conscious effort to look on our past relationships and past history and heal all the wounds we’ve accumulated before stepping into a new relationship.

It’s important to remember that healing takes time. And healing isn’t easy. Getting rid of our baggage is often times more painful than merely carrying it along with us wherever we go, and it takes commitment and dedication to exorcise all that negativity from our lives. Find a path toward closure. If your baggage is due to a mistake you’ve made, ask for forgiveness. If your baggage is because of something that someone else did to you, try to find it in your heart to forgive. Our relationships with other people are the biggest cause of emotional baggage, but no matter how negative those relationships are, it’s important that we try to move on in a clear, positive manner. If closure cannot be found, then cut people out of your life that contribute to your emotional baggage. Cut painful relationships out, be they relationships with your exes, your frenemies, your acquaintances that add nothing positive to your life.

When dating new people, we should all adopt the basic philosophy: tabula rasa. This term, “tabula rasa,” means clean slate. This doesn’t mean that you have to treat every relationship like the first relationship you’ve ever had. Rather, this means that you should approach new relationships with all the wisdom and insight and learning that you’ve taken from past relationships — the positive forces — and relinquishing all the negative forces at the door, or to in all literalness check your baggage at the door.

For more dating tips and helpful dating advice, check out these articles as well:

Having a positive outlook will get you more dates
5 online dating fears and how to overcome them
Jealousy and how to prevent it
The importance of being earnest

photo credit: striatic

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