How To Tell If Emotional Baggage Is Interfering In Your Relationship & How To Let Go Of The Past Once And For All

Photo: by Jamakassi on Unsplash
How To Tell If Emotional Baggage Is Interfering In Your Relationship & How To Let Go Of The Past Once And For All
Love, Self

Does the past keep coming up in your daily life?

In any relationship, there's a chance that emotional baggage will keep you from being able to let go of the past and will interfere with your love life.

If you've got emotional pain, then you're going to carry that weight until you learn how to let go of anger and adapt to your new situation.

The good news is that, despite the things that have happened in your past (whether it was cheating partners, painful breakups, or whatever else you may have been through), you can use emotional intelligence to make your future relationships healthy.

RELATED: The Amazing Thing That Happens In Life When You Learn To Let Go

Some people break up for regular reasons — the timing is wrong or there is too much distance between them. Some people break up because they aren’t compatible sexually — she’s whips and chains and he’s lights and socks on.

Others break up because they have different values — one wants kids and the other wants a vasectomy.

But there are also those who break up because of unhealthy relationship patterns: namely one or both of the partners can’t check their emotional baggage at the door. They don’t just bring one duffel bag to their new union; they bring the entire Samsonite line.

Now, odds are that everyone has some sort of baggage — everyone has bruises, no matter how smooth your love life has been in the past. But there's a fine line between some and too much. Like when traveling, too much baggage and a relationship just won’t fly.

For anyone wondering if they have emotional baggage, the answer is: yes — but just how much baggage is the question.

The way to discover this is by recognizing a sneaky little behavior called "over-adaptation."

Overadaptation is a destructive phenomenon that happens in relationships when one or both people involved change their behavior for the purpose of avoiding confrontation or disapproval.

People who are guilty of this often create a story about what they think will happen if they brought an issue to the table or did something, without communicating — they then withhold or behave in a way dictated by their assumptions rather than reality.

RELATED: 12 Ways To Let Go And Free Yourself From A Painful Past

For example, over-adaptation occurs when:

  • One or both partners respond in certain ways to merely keep the peace because they just "know" how their loved one will react.
  • One or both partners had a previous relationship where, when challenged, their boyfriend or girlfriend got angry every time. Now, in the new relationship, the partner never challenges for fear their current boyfriend or girlfriend will react the same way.
  • One or both partners assume they are mind readers, thus preventing themselves from ever being emotionally honest about their feelings.
  • One or both partners try to play it cool during the beginning stages of a relationship in fear that they’ll scare the other person away based on some past relationship where they were rejected from being open.

In itself, adapting to a new relationship isn’t a bad thing — people must adapt and evolve in order to improve themselves. But if there is too much mind-reading or silent assumptions made that aren't based on fact, you're walking into the territory of over adaptation.

At its root, over adaptation involves a ton of emotional dishonesty; a person who engages in this hides from their partner, shielding them from who they are in order to protect themselves from assumed rejection.

This does a disservice to both people — the partner who is over adapting fails to trust themselves and walk the road of emotional authenticity. The other partner is also left out in the cold, painted as the "imagined" jerk.

Not surprisingly, none of this is a basis for a strong relationship and will, ultimately, lead to the relationship ending.

Here are 4 steps you can take to let go of the past so you can stop over-adapting:

1. Recognize when you're doing it and why

Realizing that it's in response to the past is instrumental in dropping the assumptions and getting real.

2. Give up "mind reading"

Psychic Friends Network must come off the speed dial. Remember, you don't "know" what your partner's going to do or how they'll respond. Don't jump to conclusions and react before they do.

3. Ask your partner if you're unsure

if you have concerns about what your partner thinks, quiet those concerns by simply communicating in a non-accusatory way. You'll get your answer, and no one will be hurt by miscommunication.

4. Trust yourself

A person has no reason to hide who they are — unless they’re wanted for bank robbery. Still, that isn’t a deal-breaker — even Bonnie had a Clyde! Once you can trust yourself enough to be yourself in the relationship, you really give your partner a chance to see you and truly love you.

RELATED: This Is The Only Real Way To Move Forward In Life (Hint: Self-Love Has A Lot To Do With It)

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Clayton Olson is an international relationship coach, master NLP practitioner, and facilitator who delivers private virtual coaching sessions and leads online group workshops. Register for his free webinar if you're ready to create the kind of relationship that makes you feel alive and inspired to be the best you.

Author
Expert