Everyone has baggage. Relationships can be testing, and every new situation and feeling leaves an imprint. Sometimes the baggage is real – think shared houses, or debts, or even children – and sometimes it’s more emotional, like feelings that you can’t shake. Want to know how you compare? Here’s the most common types of relationship baggage – how much do you have?
1. Blame First
Taking the blame is HARD. It’s true. It’s instinctive to find someone or something to blame other than ourselves, even if we’ve done something wrong. Doing this in relationships is a killer, though. Something goes wrong, and you quickly lay the blame on your partner, and then get defensive. This makes your partner an enemy, and damages the trust and your overall relationship. After all, who wants to be emotionally close to an enemy? This is one of the most common relationship baggage problems, and it’s one that counselors are really used to seeing. Definitely make it a priority to work on if you recognize yourself in this.
2. Owning Your Partner
This can be an issue, especially if you’ve been together a while. While being “mine” can be a term of endearment, and very confidence boosting in those early days, it can quickly turn into a claim of ownership. Make sure that you don’t behave like you really own your partner, whomever they are. Remember that they are choosing to be with you, and you don’t actually own them. Investing in endearment and closeness leads to intimacy. Investing in ownership leads to conflict.
3. Crazy Criticism
Sometimes, your partner might have some feedback for you. Constructive criticism isn’t just a work thing. It could be that your partner thinks you are away too much, or working too hard, or not pulling your weight at home. It could be that you’ve got lax with showering, or they don’t feel that you are attracted to them anymore. And this kind of feedback can be hard to hear, but you need to take it on board and not lash out in revenge. Refusing to hear criticism, or accept it, will lead to the issues getting bigger and resentment festering. Work together to resolve the issues, and avoid letting your pride cause more problems.
4. Passive Aggressiveness
Being passive aggressive is super common. Some people even think it’s helpful – agreeing with your partner to avoid conflict is best for both of you, right? Wrong. Don’t agree with your partner and then continue to do whatever you were going to do in the first place. It causes resentment and conflict, and your partner will start to wonder if they can trust you.
5. No Compromises
You might have seen this on social media…people who refuse to make any compromises for their relationship, and post statuses about how important their gym/friends/school/bed is, and how any partner will have to fit in around that. Having a relationship means letting go of some other commitments. Obviously, you don’t stop going to school or quit your job to spend time with your partner, but you may want to reorganize or drop a gym session, or spend a little less time with your friends. You need to make time for your partner so that they feel special too - and if you can’t scale back your life, you might not be ready for a relationship right now.
6. You’re Not House Trained
This is surprisingly common, too. It could be that you swear like a sailor, or don’t clean your room, or eat with your mouth open, or pee on the toilet seat, or leave dirty underwear everywhere. It could be that your house looks like you need a HAZMAT suit to enter it. Don’t be disgusting. If you want someone to be physically close to you, look after yourself and your surroundings. Your friends will probably thank you, too.
7. You’re Selfish
Everyone has days when they just want to be selfish. Eating what they like, not tidying up, not thinking about anyone else, just doing what you want to do and thinking about it later. You can’t be selfish in a relationship, though. You sacrifice that for the other person, to create something beautiful together. Being around a selfish person can make you feel really unimportant and dismissed, and that’s not the way to make a relationship last. If you can’t get past your selfishness, it might be time to reevaluate if you are actually happy.
If you or your partner has one or two of these baggage types, you’re not alone. Most people have a few traits that they need to work on now and again, and with some effort, they can be fixed and the relationship can be better than ever. Have you ever tried fighting your emotional baggage? Any tips to share? We’d love to hear them!