Emotional baggage has to do with unresolved emotional issues that we carry from either childhood traumas or prior painful relationships. In one way or another, these unresolved issues haunt us, weighing us down, and if left unaddressed, we carry them into our next relationship. This happens especially if we were unable to find closure. But, we all have our baggage, we are even entitled to it. Life is not easy, relationships are hard, so we can’t be expected to grow up unaffected completely. So, when someone says: “She/ he has too much baggage,” as an excuse to not pursue the relationship, this might just mean: “I’m just not interested” or perhaps, “I’m not willing to take this upon myself” and most definitely, “I’m simply not in love.”
Our own baggage
Everyone we meet shapes our lives in some way. Some change it completely and others just a bit. There are those who help us and some who scar us, but we keep trying to learn and get better. Either we outgrow our issues or learn to live with them. Accepting lessons presented to us is hard and everyone has different levels of resilience and empathy, and all long relationships suffer some form of “tolerating” each others’ “issues” after a while. What we need to do is, to be honest with ourselves and our partners and choose our battles, the ones worth fighting for, baggage and all. There is no perfect soul mate, no Hollywood perfect ending of “happily ever after.” We can head to Disney World for that! If you are looking for an unchipped piece of art: have relationships with Harlequin novels!
Where is the balance?
Of course, we sometimes fall for the “wrong” person and there is a limit to how much we can take, but if we attracted that person into our lives in the first place, we have issues of our own too. We are mirrors of each other’s flaws. We are imperfectly perfect and have to learn through every relationship defeat. We learn the most from difficult relationships and it is up to us to change the negative patterns. We all have issues, and the statement, “She or he has too much baggage,” doesn’t cut it anymore when giving up on someone.
How far is too far?
While I don’t believe in the expression “working” on a relationship, which, to me, means going against who you are and excessively adapting to someone else’s needs, I do believe in trying to understand and help the other person grow. When I can’t go on in a relationship any longer, my job is done and I have to move on. But not because of the baggage, but because either we are incompatible, or the other person is unwilling to see what is holding him back, which is usually the past. I can’t go to battle with their past just as I don’t expect anyone to fight the demons of my childhood.
It’s not about the baggage
When you are in love, you see the object of your affection in a different light, they seem perfect. You see only what you choose to see. Only in time do you get to experience the real person, and that is when you decide whether this person is worth the investment of time and love you’re ready (or not ready) to give. If this person’s traumas and quirks are worth the try, go for it! We can’t leave characteristics out as we all come as a package and that’s what you get, the whole deal. And for your own sake, forget trying to change the other person. All you can do is point out what bothers you and humbly tell them what you think they need to work on for you to stay together. This is hard because you shouldn’t make it your life purpose to change your partner because it’s fruitless, frustrating and codependent. Only they themselves or a professional, if need me, can help them out.
Before you give up and leave your latest love interest, be honest. Are you giving up because this person is divorced with kids, for example, and you don’t like kids? Or perhaps their recreational drug use doesn’t jive with your idea of a good time. In either case, it is not them necessarily, it’s you who isn’t wanting to be part of the equation. Or perhaps this person is severely broken, as in mentally ill? Then, that is a different story but you don’t belong with them either as you can’t be your lover’s therapist, expecting yourself to heal them.
Love them or leave them but forget the “she’s got too much baggage” excuse because we all carry our own set of Louis Vuitton’s and deserve to be loved and accepted regardless of what’s in them.