Some relationships stay with you longer than others. It may be a fond memory, a quirk that you picked up, or it may be something a little more difficult to deal with—baggage.
You should never feel guilty about baggage—we all have it. And, in a lot of relationships, your baggage won’t hold you back. You and your partner will both have some hang-ups from previous relationships, but you'll find a way to talk it through and deal with it together. But sometimes, the baggage is a little heavier.
You may find that you’re constantly thinking about your previous relationship or, even if you’re not actively thinking about your ex (or exes), you may find certain behaviors and mindsets are holding this relationship back. Sometimes it may be obvious what's going, but it can also be much more subtle. But how can you tell if your baggage is totally innocent—or if it’s actually affecting your relationship? Here are the signs to look out for.
Your Past Relationships Are on Your Mind
This is the most obvious sign that your past relationships are affecting your current one. If your exes—or one particular ex—are still taking a lot of headspace, that’s definitely keeping you from fully engaging in your current relationship. You might not even realize it happening. But whether you’re angry or nostalgic, being on your mind is still a sign that you’re carrying your ex with you.
You’re Waiting for the Relationship to End
Sometimes a really bad breakup—or a really bad relationship—can leave us with a slightly nihilist view of love. You suddenly adopt the view that all love is doomed or that nothing lasts forever. Even though that may sound like just having a cynical edge, that type of mindset is bound to erode your relationship. It means that you won’t ever be fully invested or fully connected to your partner. This is an issue that you definitely want to resolve because it will hold you back—not just in this relationship, but in any that come afterward.
You’re Suspicious of Your Partner
This is especially true if you’ve been cheated on or had another big betrayal—you start to see things like cheating or breaches of trust as inevitable. But you can’t blame your partner for what went wrong in other relationships. If you find yourself second-guessing your partner or being paranoid about where they’ve been or who they’re with, make sure they’ve actually given you cause to be suspicious. If they haven’t, you may have some leftover issues to look at.
You’re Trying to Change Your Partner
This is one that your friends might see happening, even when you don’t. It’s amazing how much we don’t even see ourselves trying to recreate past relationships in our current ones—even when it's obvious to everyone else. Whether you want your partner to look and behave more like your ex or you want the entire relationship to look and work more like your last one, you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Every partner and every relationship is different. If you're not ready for something different, you may not be ready to move on at all. Give yourself some time to fully process the last relationship and let the new one start fresh.
You Get Distracted During Sex
We can lie to ourselves through a lot of things—but it's difficult to lie to yourself about what’s happening in your sex life. If you find yourself distracted during sex, you may not really be connecting with your current partner. And if you find yourself thinking about your ex during sex, well...it’s pretty obvious what the problem is there. If you're not fully engaged with your partner during sex, you might need to think about why that is.
You’re Terrified of Being Single
Why are you with this person? If you’re in your current relationship to help you get over your last one—or just because you're scared to be alone—then there’s no way that your current relationship can function like it’s supposed to. Deal with your previous relationship and process it by spending some time alone. Then, once you’ve come to terms with what happened with your ex, you can move on—on your own terms.
You and Your Ex Aren’t Friends, but You’re Still in Contact
Whether or not you can be friends with an ex is a topic of much debate—but really, that’s down to you and your partner. If, however, you’re not friends with your ex but they’re still in the picture, that’s a problem. If you’re in contact with your ex but you’re not fully platonic, be honest with yourself about why. Even sketchy social media behavior can end up taking a toll on your relationship in the long run.
Having some baggage is totally normal—and not anything you should feel embarrassed about. But you do need to be aware if your last relationship is affecting your current one. So if something is off in your relationship, take a long, hard work at why. You may need to deal with your last relationship before you’re ready to move onto the next one.