Baggage happens. It is not a shameful thing to admit you have it from previous relationships. It's all a part of being human. Still, it takes some insight to recognize when you have too much of it weighing you down.
Here are some signs it's time to take a break before jumping back into another relationship.
1. You just went through a divorce
This is especially a problem with people who start prowling for a partner when their divorce isn't even finalized yet. The time to go back into the dating pool is after your divorce is final, resolved and over with - every last piece of it. Also, even after it's finalized, there is an emotional "cooling off" period most people need before they can view relationships objectively.
Consider joining a divorce support group, which is a great way to meet and talk to other people without dating them.
2. You're still bitter about a past relationship
If you still have a need to meet up with your your mates to complain about how "all men are jerks," or "all women are alike," etc., you aren't ready to date again. If you're still feeling emotional pain, anger, anxiety or depression after your breakup, you are too traumatized to come back to dating with a clean, fresh perspective.
Take a break, let yourself heal and maybe even get some counseling. There will be plenty of time to date when you can present someone with a clear heart free of bias.
3. You're grieving the loss of your partner due to death
This is a big one, but it's not as common as the other scenarios. If anything, when your life-partner passes on, you will be more likely to wait a little too long before you start looking again.
Since mourning is personal and different for everybody, only your therapist can tell you when you're balanced again.
4. You've been through many relationships in a short time
Are you so obsessed with being with someone that even a rotten relationship is better than being alone? Some people have a problem with getting into a destructive cycle, where they hop from one bad relationship to the next. People who have a history of being in abusive relationships especially have issues in this area.
So how many is too many in how short of a period? That's a question for you to decide. But, if you've been through 10 relationships in five years, that is probably a good sign to stop, live alone and take a breath for a while. Learn to be independent and self-reliant.
5. You have financial baggage
This is especially important where children are concerned, whether you're stuck being a single parent or stuck paying child support. But, even without kids, we all go through ups and downs in our finances. If you're one paycheck away from being out on the street and having more than five outfits of clothes would be a luxury, maybe it's time to get your financial life together before you look for somebody to share your space.
But this isn't as much of a fixed limit to dating as the other signs. If you're temporarily broke but have a plan on how to get back on your feet again, most partners will understand. Just make sure your plan isn't to marry a millionaire!
If you're going through a separation, you have a mess to patch up. And, if you recognized any of the above types of baggage in your inventory, you might now have a clue as to why your relationship is on the rocks. The good news is many of these issues heal with time, communication with your separated partner and counseling.
It takes a strong person to even examine their baggage clearly, so congratulate yourself on getting this far.