The past may be over, but heartbreak can leave deep scars.
No matter how much you may believe you’ve moved on, there are ways that past relationships can continue to haunt you and undermine your present.
Here’s what to look out for.
1) You still miss your ex
This is the most common and difficult issue to deal with in terms of emotional baggage from a past relationship:
Quite frankly you just really miss your ex.
Their personality, their smile, the way they joked and talked. Even just the way they looked at you.
You’ve done your best to move on, but you haven’t met anybody else who makes you feel that way or who you have strong feelings for.
And even when you do meet a new special somebody…
2) You find yourself comparing current partner to an ex
This is a troubling sign that you’re just not over past relationships.
Even when you start dating somebody new you find yourself comparing them to one or more of your past partners.
This is almost always comparing a way in which they’re not as good or fall short in some way to a partner from the past.
Often you may also think how somebody new treats you better or is nicer or more intelligent, but you just don’t feel that deep connection you did in the past.
3) You’re still hoping to get back together with an ex
When you still harbor a desire to get back with an ex, it’s like a weight around your neck.
It’s very hard to move on with life when part of you just isn’t over somebody.
The connection you had, or at least your version of it, still burns brightly in your heart.
You want those times back again.
This kind of emotional baggage is hard to get over, and the more you try it can feel like the more the memory of past love and loss lingers.
4) You find that nostalgia for the past lessens enjoyment of the present
Emotional baggage doesn’t only come in the form of painful and sad memories.
It can also be nostalgia for good times gone by.
We all have some nostalgia at times, of course, including about past love.
But when it’s actively making the present more colorless and less enjoyable then there’s clearly something going wrong.
Nostalgia is great, but if it’s interrupting your present life then it’s something to watch out for.
5) You idealize past relationships and can’t let go of them
This is part of a habit of idealizing past relationships.
It’s like putting a partner on a pedestal, except instead of a person this is where you put an entire past relationship on a pedestal.
You only remember the great times and the laughs and cuddles.
You forget about the fights and the unanswered calls and the miscommunications.
You build up past relationships into a golden idol.
6) You haven’t resolved the reasons for a past breakup
Emotional baggage sticks around when the reasons for past breakups haven’t really been resolved.
You may be aware of the reasons and you may have thought them through hundreds of times.
But you haven’t really accepted the reasons or understood them fully.
You feel like you were shortchanged, given less than you deserve, treated unfairly or left out to dry in ways that were horrible and unfair.
And maybe you were…
Which makes it so hard to just move on.
7) You gaslight yourself about what went wrong in the past
Gaslighting is a form of lying about what’s happening or blaming the one who’s noticing for causing it.
It’s victim blaming.
You may have been the victim of an emotionally or even physically abusive relationship…
But when you try to tell yourself that you were actually the one at fault or that you should have done something else, you often end up gaslighting yourself.
Essentially you blame yourself for your ex’s mistakes in order to construct wishful thinking about what could have been.
This brings up the more general issue:
8) You feel resentful about a past rejection or disappointment
If you still carry resentment and anger about a past breakup, there’s no doubt the baggage is weighing you down.
It’s natural that you would feel pain and feel uncomfortable thinking about rejection in the past.
But having that burning resentment still inside you is something different and can negatively impact a lot of your present interactions.
It can be so hard to get over.
9) You feel a general sense of hopelessness about love and relationships
This pain from the past hangs around far longer than it should, and sometimes it pops back up long after you thought you’d gotten over it.
You may feel a sense of hopelessness deep in your bones about love and relationships.
It’s hard to really talk yourself out of this, of course.
Sometimes it’s best to focus on something else and build up your own self-worth before tackling the frustration and despair you feel about relationships.
10) You hear the hurtful words of your ex ringing in your ears
The words of strangers or people we don’t like don’t always make a big impression on us.
But the words of somebody we love have the capacity to cut us to the core.
Some of the worst baggage from past relationships comes from the hurtful words of a past partner.
If you hear their accusations and criticisms ringing in your ears, it’s a sign that there’s still some serious baggage hanging around.
11) You can’t forget the painful things done to you in past relationships
It’s not just past words that may still echo in your head, it’s also past actions.
Whether this was cheating, abusive behavior, feeling underappreciated or conflicts that came up in the relationship it’s hard to get over.
Perhaps a past partner emotionally suffocated you and was too controlling and possessive, or perhaps they spent nearly no time with you and left you feeling neglected and abandoned.
The trauma can run very deep and keep resurfacing later down the road, even once we think it’s gone.
12) You’re unrealistically hyperbolic about your romantic future
Past relationships that have hurt you usually skew your idea of love.
You start to think of love in a very black or white way.
You may feel like you’ll “never” meet the right person or have success in love.
Or you may feel like you have some kind of curse that draws you to the wrong people and you just don’t know how to fix it.
This kind of pessimism and rigid thinking can end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Checking your baggage
We all remember and care about close connections we’ve had in our lives.
Past relationships impact who we are in every way, whether we want them to or not.
The key consideration here, however, is to ensure that pain and frustration over the past isn’t clouding your view of the present.
Remember that just as you evolve and change, so too do those around you.
Suffering and sadness from the past affects us all, but we have to choose what to do about it.
When you’re willing to lay your baggage aside you may well find you meet someone else who’s also able and willing to do the same.