Couple looking at each other and smiling while reading separate books in bed.

Set yourself free

Dealing with Sexual and Emotional Baggage

Almost everyone has some baggage but no matter what happened in your past, you control your future. By dealing with your baggage, you'll take a weight off your own shoulders. Here are some common issues.

  1. Commitment-phobia: Maybe you had a bad 'imprint' for relationships when you were growing up, and learned love can be damaging. Perhaps you had your heart broken and that made you feel as if love isn't worth the pain. There's no need to be in a relationship – many people are happy single – but if you often fall head over heels then withdraw once your love is reciprocated, or string people along without engaging emotionally, your issues may be damaging to yourself and others. There's no magic answer… Examining your past for relationship patterns and seeing whether they've made you happy can help you work out your course of action. Don't pressure yourself to have a relationship if you're not ready. Try to separate genuine emotions from negative learned patterns. If you're not ready for love, be honest with your partner. However, if it’s only a physical relationship you’re after, remember to always keep it safe.
  2. Abandonment issues: Divorce is common nowadays and is just one thing that could trigger feelings of abandonment. This can lead to clinginess, co-dependent relationships and, ironically, pushing people who love you away to prove your fears have foundation. Learn to love yourself and you're more likely to have a happy, healthy relationship.
  3. Self-sabotage: If you don't feel worthy of love, it's easy to sabotage your life because you don't think you deserve to be happy. Reliance on alcohol, drugs and damaging sex (such as sex with people who are unavailable) can indicate you don't value yourself. Partners tend to mirror how we feel about ourselves so self-loathing can lead to negative relationships.

"Partners tend to mirror how we feel about ourselves so self-loathing can lead to negative relationships."

Baggage comes in many forms and there's no shame in seeking help unpacking it. Counselling can help if you find it hard to tackle on your own, as can supportive friends and family. Be honest with yourself, take responsibility for the patterns that you've repeated (that doesn't mean bad things that have happened are your fault, but choosing to stay in a bad situation can be an indication of your self worth) and above all love yourself. Do things you enjoy, look after your body and mind… then happily ever after is more likely to follow.

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