IF YOU’VE been struggling with some groundhog day style love disappointments, it can feel like history keeps repeating despite your best efforts.
Maybe you’ve done your absolute level best to try to make different choices. Maybe you’ve read books, vowed to never again date a writer, drummer, narcissist, alcoholic or workmate.
Or maybe you’ve tried following your head instead of your heart, asked your friends to set you up, employed a matchmaking service or just hid under the doona, and it all went to pieces anyway.
But if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got.
And what most of us do is try to sort out our past baggage with our new partners. And that’s a one-way ticket to Miseryville.
Baggage is old hurt that hasn’t been unpacked since you left your original destination. Baggage comes with you into a new relationship and then spontaneously explodes and spills everywhere whenever something reminds you of your past hurts.
If you saw Lachlan and Clare’s original stoush on Married at First Sight, you witnessed a gold class baggage explosion.
So if you’re finding yourself having the same struggles in relationships over and over again, you may be trying to find someone to sort your past baggage rather than someone to spend your future with.
Many years ago I married my mother. Not literally of course, but in the strange and complicated way many of us do; by finding someone who I had the same emotional struggles with, and marrying them in the hope that this time things would turn out better.
I have a good relationship with my mother now, but when I was a tiny kid it was pretty fraught. And the leftover feelings from that time formed a kind of distorted lens through which I saw my romantic prospects. It stopped me from seeing people who were truly interested in me, and kept me focused on the ones who just needed me to see them. It made me more aware of my own shortcomings and less aware of the failings of the ones I loved.
Your way of seeing both love and the world forms when you’re very small. And there’s lots of evidence that your early relationship with your parents forms the template for what feels right to you when you grow up and fall in love.
So if there was some strife in your early years, long illnesses, separations from your family, drinking or gambling, if your folks struggled to care for you or relate to you with an open heart, then you might find yourself repeating some of those scenarios in your love life. Like a rescue dog who’s been hit and ducks whenever you move to pat her, a difficult past has a way of following us into our new lives.
But what can you do about it?
Your early childhood baggage doesn’t sort itself because you read good self help books, or pray for things to change, dump a bad relationship or vow to make different decisions next time. Your patterns only really change when you work to make sense of your past in a caring and supportive relationship.
This might be with a mentor or a counsellor. The important thing is that there’s plenty of time and attention to helping you make sense of your history.
We accumulate baggage in our first relationships and the best place to sort it is in good company. Working with someone who has your best interests at heart and who’s dedicated to helping you understand your history and how it’s impacted on you, can make the difference between endlessly repeating the same old relationship patterns and creating loving relationships.
Being supported to make sense of your past can help to change the unconscious template of what you look for in a partner.
This process of unpacking and putting away your old baggage doesn’t mean you’ll never cry or be angry about your past again, but it will mean you can put your old pain where it belongs instead of choosing a partner you can recreate your history with.
So don’t be shy. If you’ve got some old wounds that are getting in the way of finding love, set forth on the hunt for a safe person to help you with separating your past from your future. You’ve got nothing to lose but your baggage.
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