Drawing Emotional Baggage Boundaries

Emotional baggage sucks. It sabotages potentially great future opportunities in life and in love simply because we internalize our past experiences – all the yuck that happened, storing it deep inside, and then process it into negativity and fear blocks. Then, either the negativity stored within is triggered in new situations causing damage, or our fear blocks serve as a shield to defend against even going down potentially threatening emotional roads again. In many cases, both things happen, which super sucks.

But this post isn’t about how your baggage of the past weighs you down from having healthy relationships in the present. You probably already know that. (And if you don’t know, get to know it… and even more importantly, take inventory of your emotional damage and start to unpack it head and heart on so that you can begin to throw some of it out.) This post rather is about realizing and accepting that EVERYONE has emotional baggage. Meaning that yes, every man you date is going to have some. You’re welcome for the reality check. Some guys have trunkfuls of cargo and others just a carry-on; some will have worked through a lot of theirs and others will not have begun the process. I’m guessing that most of you have been there – with a guy who has “a lot of issues.” And his issues seem to creep their way into the relationship. Well, of course they do! That’s how baggage works. Our prickly stuff – the stuff we haven’t dealt with – gets activated in new relationships and oftentimes screws up a good thing.

The important thing to me, is YOU. As the writer of your own relationship destiny, you need to determine what your emotional baggage tolerance is and then draw some boundaries. Essentially, to put it bluntly, how much of someone else’s prior damage, are you willing to put up with? The more clear you get about this, the easier it will be for you when you find yourself dating someone again who seems to have “a lot of issues.”

A few things to consider when taking inventory of someone else’s baggage:

1. Don’t concentrate on amount. Quantity is not an accurate measure. A man with one issue not dealt with is worse than a guy with 5 issues already tended to, or being tended to currently.

2. Observe how your man handles his baggage. Is it head/heart on, or is suppression his go-to mechanism? Do you respect the way he deals with it?

3. How does his baggage affect you? Does it weigh you down, creating new baggage for you? Or can you authentically handle it?

4. How does your baggage and his baggage co-mingle? Is his unresolved junk firestarting yours, or vice versa?

While we can’t change the past, we can change how we think about it and how we let it effect our future. Our past experiences can be incredible learning experiences, no matter how painful. In fact, those experiences make us who we are, scars and all… and so does the healing journey. Setting limits in your relationships regarding taking on new baggage is a sign of strength and one of resolve with your own baggage. So, rise up to your own emotional baggage challenges and seek to be with someone who rises up to his.

Live and love largely,