Friday, April 11, 2008

Excess Baggage: #1 Reason for Relationship Going South

There is something really wonderful about growing up. It has been said that maturity has a way of adding something extra to life, especially to relationships. Who knew that "something extra" would be excess baggage.

Baggage really gets in the way of having a relationship. Women tend to hold in anger, frustration and resentment. Men tend to compartmentalize those feelings. No body talks about them so they pile up and, lo and behold you have excess baggage. Like the current trend in luggage, this baggage too has wheels, so it goes everywhere you go.

Different people have different ways of dealing with it. Some try to put their bags in storage. Others try to unload their baggage off on others. Me, I used to carry it around like a red badge of courage. Of course, I "tried" all sorts of ways to get rid of that heavy load. I went to the gym to work it out. Chiropractors, who can usually manipulate anything, couldn't get the weight off my shoulders. In fact, I even spent some time on a couch, hoping to find a respite. Nothing seemed to work. Only my bank book went down while my collection of bags got larger.

Whenever I began a "new" relationship, I thought that this time was the last time I was starting over. I was certain that the definition of starting over was instant disposal of excess baggage. Was I ever wrong!

My baggage affected every aspect of my relationships. No wonder they never lasted. When the time came for sexual intimacy, lo and behold, I discovered my sleeping accommodations were unsuitable. My king size bed just wasn't big enough to hold all those people - his ex, my ex and those exes in between. It's a wonder there was any room left for us.

Then there were the quiet dinners. A dinner for two turned out to be more like a cocktail party because of the many conversations on different levels going on. The first time I made dinner for my boyfriend, although there were only two physical bodies there, I realized there were more people at that table than place settings. Intimate walks in the park turned out to be more like football games, with all the players on the field scurrying for the ball and the fans cheering them on.

Sick and tired of being a serial monogamist, I finally took a long hard look at my relationships. Sure I could blame it on the times. There was certainly enough evidence and self-help books to validate my then belief that relationships are difficult to maintain. But the truth of the matter is that it's the tremendous weight of excess baggage that makes relationships so heavy. Realizing that fact is one thing, doing something about it is quite another.

Letting go is no easy task because, despite how it feels, there is great comfort in having the protection of all that baggage. You see, whenever a tough situation arises, by habit, you simply reach into the old bag of tricks to handle it. The problem is, though, you usually get the same results, over and over again. Invariably, you get to be right about yourself, your life, and your partner but you don't get to be happy.

Want to change? Take a good hard look at your life. Even when you have a different relationship and a different partner, do the same familiar dynamics and patterns show up because of old excess baggage? Or have you become so accustomed to carrying it around that you don't even know life without it?

Here's how I changed my life. Using the child's game Connect the Dots as a model, instead of connecting the dots to create a picture on the page, I connected the common behaviors in my relationships to give me a true picture of how my baggage affected my relationships.

I discovered that all that baggage stood in the way of creating a wonderful, healthy, nurturing relationship. So I got rid of it. Now all I have is a carry-on bag. And, in that bag, I carry these secrets:


  • As long as you think about past relationships, that's what all your relationships will become.


  • Go on a date as if it's your very first date or your last first date.


  • Stay conscious. On the first date you don't want to hear about the other person's ex, so don't talk about yours. Unless you're really boring, there are many things to talk about other than you ex or exes. When you meet someone, get to know him or her first, then get around to their history. The definition of history is a chronicle of past events. Do you want to live today or forever in yesterday? It's your choice.


  • Whatever your belief about your boyfriend or girlfriend is, that's how he or she will show up. That is exactly how he or she will be to you.


  • Practice forgiveness. Forgive past lovers, exes, previous situations, and former relationships. When you let go of negative attachments and no longer have a charge on them, you open up the space to create something different in your life. As in the law of physics, two things can't occupy the same space at the same time--so stop holding on to old baggage of resentment, anger and frustration. Instead, be willing to have someone and something new be in your life. You never know what the unknown will bring


Do you want to get close to someone and have a healthy, nurturing relationship? Ditch the baggage. You don't need it. You are all you need. Excess baggage just gets in the way. You want to carry something for the trip to paradise? Take the carry-on.

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