So many people carry emotional baggage, and it seeps into their next relationship. But what if the next partner really is abusive? In my life, there are many different perspectives.

I’ve seen things through the eyes of a victim, a villain, and even from a neutral standpoint. I think many of us have. The thing I want to talk about today, however, is differentiating between carrying emotional baggage from a past abusive situation and actually being in another abusive relationship. Let me break it down.

Is it really emotional baggage?

We all know that past traumatic events or past abuse make us carry around emotional baggage. But there are so many people who aren’t aware that abuse sometimes repeats itself in almost exactly the same way after the first relationship ends.

The trick here is to discern whether you are being mistreated again, or if you just have trust issues from the past. The good part is some of us women and men have learned to tell the difference the hard way – experiencing these things by trial and error. I want to share what I’ve learned throughout the years about this topic. Here are a few ways to tell the difference.

New abuse/emotional paranoia?

1. Twisting

First of all, I want to say that victims of trauma in relationships will have trust issues, and they do have tendencies to want proof of loyalty as a comfort. While this may not be the healthiest action, trauma makes us feel that way. But if you are going through the art of “twisting”, you are being abused once more, and there is little to no compassion for your reassurance.

Sometimes when we go through things in past relationships, we are hurt so deeply that we pay closer attention to our new partner. Where most people aren’t as diligent, we keep our eyes open for red flags. When a red flag does appear, we question our partner about the inconsistency.

If we are being abused again, our partner will twist things to their advantage to stop our questioning, instead of answering honestly and putting our fears to rest. If they twist things, they will have an excuse for what you found out. They will say you don’t trust them and you’re the problem.

On the other hand, if they explain the situation and comfort you, give them a chance. They will probably be patient and reassuring, unlike the guilty party. This is a slight difference.

2. Gaslighting

This term comes from a movie where a man turned down the lights throughout the house, and when his wife asked why the lights were low, he told her she was imagining things. It’s a simple little thought, isn’t it? Well, this act is devastating if someone is really abusing you.

Gaslighting is when your partner tries to make you think you’re crazy and imagining things. You may carry this horrid abuse from a previous relationship and will need to heal. On the other hand, you can also enter into another relationship where your partner tries the same tactic.

You have to be strong and attentive to catch onto gaslighting. Hopefully, you’ve taken time to heal between relationships, and that means you understand your self-worth, and this will help you see clearly what your partner is doing.

If you are in another abusive relationship, and she tries to make you feel crazy, call her on what she’s doing. If she’s not gaslighting, but just mistaken about a few things, it should be fairly easy to recognize, just, still, stay vigilant. There are covert abusers who gaslight and hide it effectively until your guard is down.

3. Stonewalling

Emotional abuse and baggage sometimes come in the form of stonewalling. This means ignoring your partner when you’re angry or not getting what you want. It’s such a common toxic trait that most people think it’s normal. If you want to know whether your new partner is stonewalling you, or just upset and needs time alone, use this formula:

  • Stonewalling: Going days without intimacy and getting worse the more you try to talk. They either stop when they get tired or when you give them what they want. Either way, the topic will not be communicated in a healthy manner but simply pushed aside. Your hurts and damage do not affect your partner’s silent tantrums.
  • Normal alone time: When your boyfriend is angry with you, he may want some time alone. Anger could arise if you barge in on his alone time, but he will not spend days on end wallowing in self-pity. He will come back and talk to you about the situation, and try to make things work. There will be communication. He knows you’ve been hurt and he doesn’t want to put you in that situation again.

4. Rage

Understanding rage should be plain and simple. In your last relationship, filled with abusive rage, violence, or emotional turmoil, he pushed you into a small hole, feeling worthless. Unfortunately, you carry these feelings as emotional baggage into the next relationship, unless you learn to heal between them.

So, it’s simple. If you have a disagreement, or you confront your girlfriend about something she has done wrong, she should talk with you and apologize where necessary. Whether you stay together or part, it should be in a calm manner. This is normal.

What is not normal is the same scenario of confrontation met with rage and violence. Someone who is abusive will throw a grown temper tantrum, and you will know you’ve done it again. You’ve picked another one who needs psychological help.

5. Trust isn’t improving

Trust was lost in your last relationship, maybe because, let’s say, they cheated on you repetitively. You are left with the inability to trust most people because of this relationship. You may have taken time to build yourself up, but there may still be a bit of that sickening distrust in your belly.

This means, you’ve done the best you can and you still have trust issues. Let’s say you meet someone you really like and you share your experiences with him, even the fact that you still have trust issues, he still wants to be in your life.

Things can go one way or the other. Your boyfriend can work with you on your trust issues by excusing your outbursts, jealousy, and paranoia by reassuring you on a daily basis that things are okay. A good man will even go the extra mile to stay away from situations that make you feel uncomfortable while you continue to heal.

If you have fallen into another abusive relationship, however, your partner will get angry when you are going through these things, and he will demand trust, right here and right now, which may be impossible for you since you haven’t healed.

He will also give you more reasons to not trust, like staying out late ignoring your calls, or being overly friendly with other women. His excuses show you that you’ve ended up in another toxic situation.

So, there you have it, the differences

This topic wasn’t easy to work for you because it’s something I’ve been through and it’s much easier to understand internalized. Sometimes you just get feelings and strange vibes and you know you’ve done it again. You’ve entered an abusive relationship.

So, let’s work on unpacking your emotional baggage, and try to focus on ourselves for a while. We may need quite a bit of time to heal and appreciate our beauty.

I hope this helped. Feel free to comment on your situation, and we can hash it out together.

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