Dating Tips | Relationship Advice | Love Strategies


bag•gage: 1. the suitcases, luggage, and parcels which one carries their belongings in while traveling. 2. the memories of the past that a person consciously or unconsciously carries around which still control their present emotions and actions. 3. the unnecessary weight of a woman’s past that slows her down on the journey to love.

An honest male perspective: Emotional baggage is a HUGE turnoff to prospective love partners! A smart woman knows that she must do all she can to get rid of her emotional baggage. That way, she will possess the refreshing spirit that men universally find so attractive.

Today airlines are more likely to charge their customers an extra fee for baggage that exceeds a certain weight limit. Just before a recent flight, the suitcase that I brought along weighed in at 62 pounds. The airline representative at the check-in counter announced, “There will be an additional $25 service charge for going over the weight limit by twelve pounds.” I realized too late that I would be penalized for carrying around excessive or heavy baggage.

In a similar way, a woman can be penalized in her love life for carting around too much emotional weight from her past. This happens when she uses past experiences in romantic relationships and elsewhere as the excuse for her present unhappiness and allows herself to remain stuck in a funk. A smart woman recognizes this danger and avoids it so that she can move around more freely in her future love relationships to the delight of prospective suitors.


One of the more common stories that I’ve read from women who post messages at iVillage.com is how a certain man in their past hurt them and now they can’t trust new men. These women will say that all present and future love candidates will have to pay the price of doubt because of what another man did earlier.

For example, a woman wrote the following to me about her lack of trust for men:
“I am at the point where I have absolutely no trust in men, their intentions, or their apparent interest in me anymore. I would like to know some key things I can look for that will give me a reason to believe a man isn’t going to drop me and run like all the rest have. Recently, on two separate occasions, I met someone that I immediately clicked

What I tell a woman with this kind of reasoning is that the past is only real because she chooses to continually refer to it. By habitually accessing a negative event from former times, the woman remains anchored to a set of circumstances that doesn’t necessarily apply to her present situation. She is deciding by her way of thinking to carry the emotional weight of her past well into the future. In many cases, this kind of emotional baggage will scare away future dating prospects in the woman’s life.


Sometimes a good memory that is too well remembered becomes an obstacle to developing a new romance. The fondly held memories can limit appreciation for new experiences in the present.

There was a time when I had one of the most exciting and memorable romances aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean. That shipboard fling transformed into a long-distance romance that lasted a few years before eventually dying out. But the good memories of that love affair lived on well past its appropriate and healthy expiration date.

Many years later, I was chatting with an old acquaintance of mine. Eventually he asked me, “What’s your love life like these days, Steve?”

I remember that my reply included comments about the cruise-ship romance. My friend gave me a serious look and then responded, “Wasn’t that like six or seven years ago? Are you still talking about that same cruise-ship fantasy of yours? Don’t you think it’s about time for you to get over it?”

I didn’t particularly like my friend’s remarks, but deep inside I knew he was right. I had been inadvertently holding on to a romantic dream with all of its hopes and impossible expectations. As a result, the reality was that I was stuck in the trap of the past. Those wonderful memories were making my present life look pale in comparison. For a long time, I hadn’t been giving my real love-life a fair chance to succeed.


One useful realization is that the past will not be your future unless you choose to still live in it. If you quit using the past as an excuse for not giving your all, you can move forward freely in your life.

Every person can find a story to justify not being all they can be in their life today. But while some people use their stories to keep themselves stuck in an old mindset, others have found a way to let the past inspire them to new heights.

When you come to think about it, the past is nothing more than a memory that we decide to carry around with us. It is easily within our power to choose between carrying that memory around incessantly, lightening its emotional load or, if necessary, leaving it behind. We can do this by either changing our mental focus to the present or by changing the meaning and significance we attach to the past.


Experience can carry an emotional price and that price is often paid in full by the pain of regretfulness that we continue to suffer. But in order for us to stop punishing ourselves and move forward in our love lives, we must find an empowering value in our past so it can start serving us well in the future.

The following are strategies that are designed to help you lighten your emotional load or convert past experiences into more valuable assets for you to reinvest into your future:

Convert your past pain into warnings. If you can learn something from your past experiences, they have value you can put to use today and in the future. When a decision results in negative consequences, then that experience becomes a warning not to choose that same course of action again. With this simple mindset adjustment, you can start to steer away from repeating your mistakes.

Let your past pleasure inspire you to experience more. When we recognize something good that happened in our past, it can serve to inspire us to experience that again. Instead of warnings, these pleasurable moments can be examples of how life rewards you when the right choices and circumstances come together. Remembering your successes can help restore your faith in love and your ability to attract it again into your life.

Forgive yourself by adding the key missing resources. Many of our past mistakes could have been avoided if we had the benefit of knowing the consequences in advance. The truth is that people do about the best they can with the mental, physical, and emotional resources that they have at any given time. By considering how a key present resource --- like your current level of self-confidence --might have changed the outcome of a past experience, you can easily forgive yourself and let go of unnecessary and destructive emotional pain.

Put a new empowering label on your old experience. We have a tendency to describe a past event with an emotional label. For example, we will say something like “It was a humiliating experience.” Now that may have been true when it happened, but for now you can constructively say that it was a “learning experience.” That way, you can recall what you learned rather than how it felt to be humiliated. Another thing you can do is to describe this humiliating experience from the past as “a tad embarrassing” in retrospect. By describing your past with less emotionally charged words, you can access the event without bringing up the same intensity of pain.

Throw away all of the old anchors. Sometimes it takes bold, radical moves to break the habit of hanging on to negative emotional feelings. In the case of forgetting painful relationships, it may be useful to toss out old photos, love letters, and romantic cards or gifts. It may also help to stop listening to songs of that time period which bring you back instantly to those lost moments. These reminders may be keeping you attached emotionally to unwanted and outdated times in your life and thus prevent you from appreciating what could be in your life today or in the future.

Get help if you need it. If you need professional help to move forward, seek counsel from a goal-oriented therapist or life coach. Also, a weekly support group can help you realize that we all face challenges in our lives and let you see how others are handling theirs. In addition, techniques like breath work are useful for letting go of lingering difficult feelings. Lastly, remember that we all need to take a break from love at times after a relationship has been particularly painful. Perhaps this is a period when you can just date for fun, taking your time before getting too serious.

Don’t look back, look forward instead. Once you’ve been able to embrace the lessons of your past, control your focus by thinking, talking, and referring to things in your present. Think of the positive possibilities life could offer you today. Realize that when the mind doesn’t have anything good to focus on in the present or for the future, it has a natural tendency to drift back to emotional events of the past. Also, if you fill your upcoming schedule with an assortment of worthwhile activities to experience, there won’t be any time to obsess about the past.

Give yourself a new adult identity. How about becoming an “enlightened woman” now instead of continuing to be a “victim” of the past? All you have to do is willingly accept full responsibility for your love life, learn from every experience, and appreciate the healing process of becoming more compassionate toward yourself and others. By seeing yourself as living at a higher level, you can instantly lessen the pain of the past and make your general attitude more attractive to others.

Remember to love yourself at all times. Having high self-esteem is perhaps the greatest aid to repairing a hurtful past. The more you love and honor yourself, the more you’ll be control of your own emotions. In addition, you’ll feel less at the mercy of unpleasant circumstances --- both in the past and present. The next time you come face-toface with a hurtful reminder of your past, be sure to have incredible compassion for yourself. Also appreciate your newfound ability to handle challenges.

How you feel about your past will greatly affect your attitude towards your future love-life. As soon as you’re ready, lighten up your emotional load so that you can be free to love again in the future. Don’t penalize your love-life by hanging on to unnecessary and destructive memories from your past.


Take an inventory of your past. What are the four or five most significant emotional events in your life? Perhaps your list includes the loss of a family member, an embarrassing incident that you experienced in school, a peak moment when you fell in love for the first time, or a difficult betrayal in a love relationship.

For each incident, find an empowering lesson. For example, I remember standing in front of a large crowd in junior high-school and forgetting the speech I was supposed to give. Looking back on that experience, I can now see how I was inspired to take public-speaking courses in order to avoid embarrassing myself in that way again.

So what are your stories and what could you gain from them? Be sure to do this for important incidents that are the source of unresolved issues in your life. Write down things in your past that you need to resolve and then deal with them head-on in the days ahead. Realize that it’s not what happened to you that matters. It’s what you do with the past that’s important.


Dating sucks when your past weighs you down and makes your spirit less attractive to prospective men. But dating rocks when you discover how your past can help you grow into a human-being who has more love and compassion to give to the deserving men in your future.