Over 40? What Emotional Baggage Are You Carting Around That’s Keeping You Single?

Let’s face it, as you get older it can be harder to meet someone who isn’t carrying a cartload of emotional baggage. You don’t have to go far to find dating horror stories that can scare you away from meeting someone new. It can seem like dating is hopeless for those in their second or third act of life.

But the real problem isn’t steering clear of all the people not for you on a dating app, the uncomfortable truth is you’ve been hurt, and you’ve got some of your own emotional baggage that’s blocking you from the love you want. You may not be aware of it, it’s possible you’re carrying enough emotional baggage to tip you over the weight limit. Keep reading to find out what you can do about it…

Whether you’re divorced, or single and never married once you’re over 40 you can’t help but cart your emotional baggage into your dating life. This doesn’t have to be a life sentence blocking you from lasting love. The truth is, it’s never too late to find the love of your life.

Taking a look at the main types of emotional baggage puts you in your power to make the necessary changes to open your heart to love. No matter your circumstances you’re not a unicorn. It’s likely that even though the details of your struggle may be unique to you, the hurt, sadness, shame, and guilt are universal. These experiences don’t have to block you from creating the love you desire and deserve.

It’s time to release your emotional baggage and stop carting those bags into every date or relationship in your future.

5 Types Of Emotional Baggage Blocking You From Love:

  1. Your Exes

Every time a relationship ends, you collect a brand-new duffle bag to add to your collection of emotional baggage. Each failed relationship has its own brand of baggage, but they all fit into the same category. These bags can be labeled, “I don’t ever want to feel (or experience) that again!”

Perhaps your ex cheated on you — you’ll never want to feel the pain of a betrayal again. It makes logical sense to focus on finding a man that is loyal and would never cheat. Or you can take on the belief that all men will cheat and decide to just stay single forevermore.

Perhaps you and your ex grew in different directions (or your ex never grew at all while you continued to evolve) and you found yourselves living in the same house like two strangers. Your brain may think it’s a good idea to only date men who attend the same personal growth workshops, spiritual retreats, or place of worship as you. Easy to think that if he isn’t going in the same direction as you then he’s not worth your time.

Whatever the circumstances of your break-up, creating elaborate strategies to avoid repeating the same mistakes is a recipe for your emotional baggage blocking you from the love you want. You can’t create from lack and any form of “not a cheater” or “not emotionally unavailable” will just keep you stuck in that negative pattern.

Like trying to NOT think of a pink elephant – first, you have to see the pink elephant and then cross it out to remove the image from your mind. If you’re focusing on what you don’t want to experience, you’ll end up attracting the kind of person you’re trying to avoid.

When you’ve been around the block it’s easy to think you know what you really want, when you’ve actually become clear on what you DON’T want. You’ll never be able to create the long-lasting love you desire with this strategy.

Instead, discover the gifts from your past relationships. If every experience in life is an opportunity to grow you can always learn, evolve, and make better choices the next time around. Be willing to discover about yourself and also find the Golden Nugget of Learning so you won’t be stuck with different face – same circumstances syndrome ever again.

  1. Your Unrealistic Expectations

Do you have an unrealistic expectation of yourself thinking your baggage should be without any blemishes, easy for another to carry, and beautiful to look at? Then you may be setting yourself up for continued disappointment in love. Unrealistic expectations about yourself will spill over into any relationship. This will make it impossible for anyone to meet your needs or go without being judged by you as falling short. Your flaws are part of you, and humans are imperfect.

It’s easy to dream of a magical relationship with someone who just “gets” you, you never fight, and he anticipates your every want and need. These fantasies of happily ever after are deeply ingrained in the collective subconscious and are a false standard that no person can ever live up to. Your soulmate is someone who will love all the parts of you and will work to heal their own emotional baggage alongside you.

You and your beloved will have disagreements, you’ll disappoint each other, and have miscommunication. That’s because he will always be a different person than you. It’s a fantasy to think that another person will handle the same situations as you would. Different people respond differently to stress, loss, and challenges that will inevitably come with living your lives together. Just as you have challenges as a single person, you’ll also have those when you are coupled up. It’s unrealistic to imagine that your soulmate will always be on the same page as you.

A conflict doesn’t mean you’ve picked the wrong person – a conflict simply means you’re both human. Turning a conflict into a deeper connection is part of the skillset for lasting love. Release that long list of must-haves and discover the dynamic you desire between you and your soulmate and how your relationship functions even when you don’t agree. Let go of your need for perfection and you may be surprised who shows up.

  1. Your Projections

Projection is the attribution of one’s own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to another person, especially the externalization of blame, guilt, and responsibility as a defense against anxiety. In short, projection is a self-defense mechanism. It’s much easier to project the thoughts and feelings you struggle with onto another person rather than accept them as your own and take responsibility. The resistance to dealing with your own negative emotions is the majority of emotional baggage that people carry around for decades blocking them from the love they want.

Accepting responsibility is not always easy, however, it’s the only path to compassion and love so you can accept your human limitations. If you grew up in a home where everyone dodged taking responsibility you never learned that this path is an option. Taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions will set you free to love yourself so you can also love another.

You are the common denominator in all your relationships — meaning you are the one constant. The realization that the struggle for lasting love is inside of you puts you in the seat of power to create the changes you desire. Mustering the courage to love your imperfect self allows you to be authentic, more vulnerable, and curious about others so you can evaluate a match for the long term.

Your love of self allows you to create long-lasting love with another.

  1. Your Childhood Experiences

If you’ve ever said (or been tempted to say) things like, “You’re treating me just like my mother did!” You know how much your childhood experiences have impacted you in your intimate relationships.

Your childhood wounds are the foundation of most of your emotional baggage – it’s where the first bag got packed – in your family of origin. You may have come into the world as a blank slate, but your parents immediately saddled you with generations of baggage that they were not aware of. Every person has been raised by flawed people, who were raised by flawed people, and on back through time. This is the human condition.

None of us were loved exactly the way we wanted to be in our childhood. The meanings that you assigned to the difficult events of your childhood are still with you today; they are guiding you to make decisions as an adult.

The bulk of your strategies for getting and receiving love were formed in your early childhood. Maybe you get annoyed and nit-picky if someone doesn’t load the dishwasher how you like it. Maybe you get controlling when you feel anxious about a situation. Or maybe you become passive-aggressive when you don’t get your way. Perhaps you deny your needs and try to pretend like you don’t have any. You end up deferring to those you care about, thinking that if you take care of their needs, they will at some point in the future take care of yours.

You will revert to all the strategies you developed as a child when you are in conflict as an adult. During conflict or under duress every single human being will revert to their childhood blueprint for love. The person you are in a relationship with is not responsible for your childhood experiences.

The best you can do is practice identifying your triggers and learning to calm your nervous system so that you’re able to repair when there’s been an upset. With your beloved, you will work together to heal one another’s childhood wounds so you can love each other more deeply. As a single person, your goal is to recognize your negative strategies for giving and receiving love that come from childhood wounds so you can put the past behind you.

  1. Your Fears

There are plenty of things to be afraid of in this life — dark and dangerous streets at night, climate change, dying alone, and crumbling democratic norms, to name a few. Worrying about whether some stranger you meet on a first date will like you is not one of them.

There is a big difference between fearing for your physical safety while standing at the ledge of a cliff, and an emotional fear that your date may ghost you and not ask you out again. Fear may cause you to reject all the prospects that come your way endlessly swiping left because you’re looking to identify your soulmate in an online profile. You may tell yourself that it’s impossible to find anyone to go on a date with in order to keep yourself safe instead of risking your heart.

Leaning into your fears (as long as there is no physical danger) moves you towards your highest and best self. Everything you desire in your love life is outside your comfort zone.

Unpacking your emotional baggage and opening your heart to love doesn’t have to take years of therapy. It may feel uncomfortable to look in the mirror and take responsibility for where you are right now, but you are all you’ve got. No one is going to break down the drawbridge and find you up in the castle tower your fears have put you in. Being courageous enough to claim your baggage puts you in the driver’s seat to change your circumstances moving forward.

You’ll have to leave as much of your emotional baggage behind to begin each new relationship with a curious mind and an open heart. You can’t create lasting love without releasing the past and taking a risk on love. If you’re weighed down by your baggage and are ready to finally let it go but don’t know how, sign up for a Discovery Call. During this complimentary call, we’ll give you a custom plan for creating the long-lasting love you desire.

About the authors

Love Coaches Orna and Matthew Walters

Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches and prolific writers about love. Finding love, keeping love, healing from heartbreak, bringing in your beloved and more. They have been published on MSN, Yahoo!, YourTango, Redbook, and have been featured guest experts on BRAVO’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER with Patti Stanger, and as guests with Esther Perel speaking about love and intimacy.

Suggested Reading