I don’t want my baggage to hurt this good relationship

Like most adults, I've got dating baggage. Seems like I chose similar men in the past. I like to refer to them as wounded ducks that I thought I could heal. After my last breakup, I really looked at myself and realized that the wounded ducks weren't working for me.

I've always prided myself on not carrying the hurt and baggage from previous relationships to a new one. Until now. I've finally met someone who isn't a wounded duck. He is a functioning adult who is kind, very giving, and understanding, and our lives fit well together and it's a great relationship.

After a year, though, I realize that I have carried over baggage from previous relationships, and I don't know how to get over it. I have trust issues. Not cheating-type trust issues, but emotional trust issues. By that I mean trusting that he will stick around – that he won't walk away when things get rough. I have trouble opening up and talking. I have superficially let him into my life but not truly let him in. I can't open up and talk to him at all. I know I love him but I just can't bring myself to tell him.

My gut tells me to open up and trust him, but I wind up overthinking it. He wants in, and I really want to let him in, but how do I get over 20-some years of heartbreak for the one that actually seems worth it?

– Ducking


"How do I get over 20-some years of heartbreak for the one that actually seems worth it?"

Well, there's therapy. Counseling can be a big help, and if you haven't considered it, please do. In a therapist's office you can talk about all of your past experiences and how they relate to your current relationship. You can also figure out whether some of your "baggage" might be better described as normal human feelings. It's not so unusual to feel uneasy because you've finally found a great partner and have something to lose.

It sounds like the most pressing problem is your inability to talk to your significant other about how much you're enjoying the relationship. Please know that you can always write it down (words are great, but the message itself is the most important thing). You can also let him know that you hope to communicate how much you care, that you want to tell him what he needs to know, and that you're always willing to answer questions. It can be so much easier to answer a direct question. ("Are you happy?" "Yes!")

Please remember that your first sentence is true; most of us come to relationships with history, patterns of behavior, assumptions, and lessons to learn. But that doesn't mean we have to be ducks forever. We can evolve, for sure. It just requires paying attention and making an effort. With or without baggage, you are capable of that.

– Meredith

Readers? How do you deal when you're afraid someone won't stick around?