The Pitfalls of Emotional Baggage
Unless you are very young, chances are that the relationship you are in now is not your first. This means that by definition, every relationship you’ve had up until this point has failed, for one reason or another. There is no need to feel ashamed of this, because life is a series of lessons. By going through the process of relationships, you learn what you are or are not looking for in a partner, and you also learn what your own strengths and weaknesses are. The problem, however, is that sometimes the emotional scars from a troubled relationship in the past can translate into emotional baggage in your current relationship, and this can of course cause unwanted tension.
Often when you get out of a relationship, your feelings about what you have learned from the experience can be laced with bitterness, resentment, and anger. You may be kicking yourself that you didn’t see the warning signs of what was going wrong, which in hindsight are clear as day. You don’t want to feel that way again, and so you vow to be more observant in the future. Nobody wants to be fooled twice.
Where the problem comes in is when you start punishing your new partner for the mistakes your ex made. If the lesson you learned last time was that “I’m working late” actually means “I’m seeing another woman behind your back,” it can be hard to let that go. Perhaps your current partner does need to work late sometimes. That doesn’t mean they’re automatically cheating, just because your ex did. If you go throwing accusations around or acting suspicious, however, you can find yourself with an entirely different problem. No one wants to be around someone who is checking up on them all the time. You don’t want to teach your partner the lesson that anytime they do anything, they’re going to get the third degree from you about where they’ve been and who they were with.
Emotional baggage can be a strange thing. You can think that you’re completely over something, that all the horrible things your ex did don’t matter any more and don’t affect you. Then your current partner does one tiny thing that reminds you of some negative relationship memory from the past, and boom, all those old feelings and doubts come rushing back.
It’s important to remember that this is not your partner’s fault. You wouldn’t want to be blamed for the failings of some distant horrible ex-girlfriend, so it’s important to return the favor. This is easier said than done if your trust has been broken by more than one person on more than one occasion. Communication is key; if you are feeling worried or suspicious and you know it’s probably all in your head, be honest with your partner about that. You don’t have to give all the gory details of why your ex was so terrible, but it’s pretty easy to understand if you just say that you had a bad experience with this kind of situation in the past, and that you know it’s your personal issue, and you’re going to try to get past it. And then do try. There’s no point in telling your partner that you’re going to try to trust them if you’re not really going to.
While learning from the past is smart, there also needs to be room for the present to be an improvement. If you are constantly expecting the worst from your partner, it’s likely you will find it, whether it is real or just a product of your over-active imagination. No one will ever be perfect, but give your partner a chance to prove to you that not everyone is the same, and maybe you’ll be surprised at just how much trust you can build, even with a history of being hurt.