Welcome to the baggage club…
If you’ve been in the dating game for a while, there’s one thing you know for certain. Everyone has baggage (yes, even you).
But it’s also true that some of us have more than others.
So what do you do when a great partner comes with emotional damage or a messy situation?
You don’t necessarily want to let a good thing go because of your partner’s past. But you also don’t want this baggage to get in the way of your happiness.
But before we get to that, let’s cover a few things you should never accept.
How to know when you shouldn’t accept your partner’s baggage
If your partner is abusive in any way, this isn’t something you should accept.
If your partner is acting in a way that feels abusive, it’s time to set boundaries. Make it clear that you’re not okay with this behavior. And be willing to let go if it continues.
This is an important note because someone with a lot of personal baggage can make an undesirable partner.
For example, someone who was abused or neglected as a child may develop a personality disorder. This could lead to extreme manipulation and emotional abuse in the relationship. And if you’re truly dealing with a personality disorder, it won’t get better. You’ll never be able to “fix” their problem.
But if you’re dealing with average, garden variety baggage, you may just need to reframe the way you think about the situation to accept it.
Five ways you can accept your partner’s personal baggage
Understand that we’re all human
Maybe your partner has done things in the past that make you uncomfortable. It could be drugs or alcohol abuse. Maybe they even went to a treatment center recently.
First, you have to think about the person they are today. Are they the same person who did those things, or have they evolved?
You may not have done the exact things your partner has, but you’ve probably done things you aren’t proud of. We all have. And if you want others to accept you, you should start by being more accepting of others.
Sometimes, all we really need is a comfort level to be able to accept things for what they are. And you can’t accept anything for what it is until you know what it is you’re accepting. Ask any questions you may have. Your partner should be willing to answer simple questions. If they aren’t, it may be a red flag.
Someone who comes with baggage may have quirks that make the relationship seem rocky at times. For example, someone who has been cheated on will likely have trust issues.
IF you’re willing to work through it, practice patience when jealousy rears its ugly head. Let your partner know that you’re trustworthy and try not to get upset when they question things. If you’re accepting of their baggage, you should understand where the questions are coming from.
But again, this should remain within reason. If your partner is always accusing you of cheating, he or she may not be healthy enough for a relationship right now.
Maintain an honesty policy
For this relationship to work, honesty is key. Both of you must be honest about your feelings and about events. You can’t hide things from one another or trust issues will quickly unfold.
Talk to your partner about this honesty policy. Let him or her know it’s a boundary. If they are dishonest with you, they have broken a boundary. Honesty is the only way this can work.
Your partner’s baggage may raise some red flags for you, and that’s okay. Just recognize them for what they are and know that people can change. As long as your partner is proving through actions that he or she is above the past, you should be able to maintain a positive outlook on your future.
As long as your partner’s baggage seems manageable to you, you can probably make it work. The key is to focus more on their current behavior than their past actions