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Baggage handling: how Aussies learn from their exes to make better relationships

eharmony Australia 3 mins read

Media release | For immediate issue


Baggage handling: how Aussies learn from their exes to make better relationships

New eharmony research shows how learning from past mistakes can improve our love lives


  • Nearly half (47%) of those surveyed admit having emotional baggage they will take into their next relationship
  • Almost three-quarters (71%) of Australians feel past relationships impact how they approach new ones
  • Anger issues (85%) and addiction (81%) were considered the most problematic forms of baggage
  • 35% say they would conceal personal baggage in order not to jeopardise a new relationship


Research by eharmony has revealed mixed feelings about how emotional baggage affects future relationships. Let’s unpack the results.


Emotional baggage is the leftovers from failed relationships that can prove burdensome when trying to form new ones. Unresolved pain, emotional issues and stress points can all cause problems when carried from one partnership to the next.


What’s inside your baggage?

Personal baggage has a largely negative connotation and nearly half (47%) of survey participants admit to having – and holding onto – it as they head into new relationships.


More than half (51%) also admit to being more guarded in a new relationship because of hurt experienced in a previous one; 58% feel they are more stubborn and set in their ways due to past experiences.


The four most common baggage ‘themes’ were: trust issues (46%); emotional issues (40%); financial problems (23%); and mental health problems (23%). Issues associated with having children was (equal) fifth highest in the rankings, along with family problems (both 15%).


Admitting to and learning from past mistakes

Many of those surveyed admitted to mistakes in previous relationships – a third (33%) say they did not communicate effectively or had not been honest about their feelings. Nearly a quarter (24%) said they had been unwilling to compromise with partners, while the same proportion admitted to lying.


More optimistically, most Australians said they use learnings from past relationships to improve future ones. Nearly four-in-five (78%) want to better themselves as they head into new partnerships. Three-quarters (75%) felt they would be more self-aware given what they’d previously experienced.


My baggage vs yours

An interesting – perhaps ironic – finding of eharmony’s research was that while nearly half (47%) of Aussies recognise having their own baggage, more (58%) say they judge potential partners on their past and would not consider pursuing a relationship if they believed partners had ‘too much’ personal baggage.


More than a third (35%) said they would actively hide/lie about baggage to avoid losing a new relationship.


Biggest baggage deal-breakers

The research revealed what baggage and traits were relationship dealbreakers. Anger issues (85%) were the biggest issue, followed by addiction (83%), trust issues (81%) and issues with an ex-partner (71%).


Having a highly demanding job or, conversely, having no clear career direction, were both considered a dealbreaker for approximately half (both recording 51%) of survey respondents. Having children from a previously relationship was a problem for 41%.


There’s a baggage bright side

The majority (67%) believe baggage is not necessarily a bad thing as it can show different aspects of person in a relationship.


Half (50%) also said they find it easier to be open about their own baggage and struggles with a potential new partner while chatting online when compared to discussing them in person.


eharmony relationship psychologist Sharon Draper comments:

“It’s encouraging to see such a large number of survey respondents being completely open – even if it’s not flattering – and reflecting on their shortcomings in previous relationships and wanting to apply their learning to be a better partner in future.


“So-called ‘baggage’ comes in many forms and levels of impact, so it’s not simply a case of giving the advice to ‘let it go’ or, conversely, to  double-down on your intuition, but having strong self-awareness is an important ingredient to developing positive relationships as it helps to cultivate empathy and understanding.”


– ENDS –


About The Emotional Baggage Report

The new research was conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of Soda Communications in 2023, among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 Australian adults (18+).


About eharmony

Los Angeles-based eharmony has helped over 2 million people find real love. As one of the original dating platforms, eharmony has been at the forefront of creating meaningful relationships based on its innovative Compatibility Matching System. The company operates in Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. For more information visit or download the app available on both iOS and Android.

Contact details:

Keryn O’Donnell
Soda Communications
M: 0418 603 633


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