5 arguments in defence of emotional baggage

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Acts of spouting vitriol about exes and family can prompt our tendency to flee when we realise that someone we just met has obvious emotional baggage. However, just like how we should not judge a book by its cover, emotional baggage is never someone’s whole story. Deeper, unresolved issues can sometimes be outside of a person’s control, and we are all works in progress.

Hence, it may be hasty to judge any of this at face value, because:

1. Not everyone has a perfect, happy family.

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For most of us, family is a priority and it can be hard to imagine dating someone who doesn’t share those same values. It can be shocking meeting someone who gets angry when the topic of family is raised, and dislikes spending time with them. However, there could be complex reasons behind this. Get to know their family story before jumping to any conclusions.

2. He/She had a world class shitty ex.

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Breakups hurt. Especially when someone has struggled through a bad relationship with a partner who was abusive or, for example, a compulsive cheater. He or she would have barely survived it unscathed. With a nightmarish past experience, they may enter a new relationship with previous fears, and project that insecurity onto their new partner. Learning to trust their new partner will take time.

3. He/She has not learned how to handle conflict.

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Many of us have been raised to think that conflict avoidance keeps the peace. So when your partner disagrees with you, they may keep it to themselves out of habit. But this negativity will still find a way to rear its ugly head, be it through passive aggressive eye-rolling or not so subtle sighing. Conflict avoidance can actually harm a relationship, so it’s important to learn to communicate civilly when you disagree, and have an open discussion.

4. It’s you, not them.

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Have you ever considered that perhaps you have emotional baggage too? If you tend to read someone’s behaviour negatively, this could be why. For example, he or she doesn’t want to spend every day with you. They say they just need some time to themselves. But you see it as them being selfish and uncompromising. Perhaps it would help if you take a moment to reflect on why you have this perspective.

5. It’s been a rocky career path for them.

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Career failures and setbacks can dash anyone’s confidence and turn them into buckets of gloom and pessimism. You may have met someone who’s not doing well in their career at the moment, and as such, are not their usual sparkling self. At this point, they need support more than anything else.

Of course it’s important to differentiate between temporary tendencies and inherent personality traits. But seeing someone clearly takes time, so take your time to get to know them before making a decision. Who knows, you could be in for a pleasant surprise.

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