Here's a common term in the world of relationships: BAGGAGE.
"Baggage" is another word for all the negative shit that happened to you in the past and that is presumably deeply embedded in your psyche and ready to bubble up at a moment's notice. After a marriage dissolves, a man will often talk about all of the ex-wife's baggage she brought to the relationship and how he should've acted on this crucial data earlier on.
Examples of typical female "baggage" may include:
You get the idea. This is all a bunch of stuff that when us seasoned guys hear it we wince and say, "Ooo... be careful, dude." What we mean is, "The chances of this relationship not working and you getting hurt are much higher than with a low/no baggage girl."
This is true.
Also true: The chance of you finding a low/no baggage girl is somewhere between slim and none. This isn't a typical condemnation of current western society, but rather a testimonial to human nature.
We ALL have baggage. All of us. Every one of us.
What we ALL don't have is the ability to COPE with said baggage. Therefore your litmus test for a good long-term relationship partner shouldn't be, "Does she have baggage?", but rather, "Awful shit happens to everyone all over the world... how does she DEAL with it?" This is the bread and butter of what makes a good partner. Staring life right in the eye when it gives us a shit sandwich and saying, "That's it?! What else you got?"
I myself have baggage. A good deal of it, actually. I was dumped by my wife for another man (ouch). I was left with three kids that I have most of the time (double ouch). As a result, my professional life has suffered and I would probably have more money if it wasn't for the divorce and expensive kids (triple ouch). My ex-wife is also fucking nuts (quadruple ouch). These things do not work in my favor. What DOES work in my favor is how I dealt with them and continue to deal with them on a daily basis. This translates into fortitude and strength. The kind of stuff you want in a partner of either sex.
Picture baggage as a bunch of luggage in the back of a car. A woman who has a shit ton of baggage is barreling down the road in a car with suitcases and duffle bags poking out of the back windows. The trunk is so full that it's open and tied down with bungee cords. It's a mess.
The weight of the baggage is SO much that it actually throws off the balance of the car. She has to keep her hands on the wheel at all times and constantly make corrections with little tugs left and right. The second she takes her hands off the wheel... SCREEECH! She's off the road and headed for a tree. Disaster.
That's what baggage is. It's all the shit that happened to you in the past that WILL have a negative impact on your life and relationships with others... UNLESS you recognize the baggage for what it is, live in reality, and take steps towards remedying the situation. If you don't live in reality and say you have nothing to worry about... SCREECH... you're running right off the road and into danger.
Here are some real-life ways in which mature adults "deal with baggage" successfully:
"My entire family are alcoholics. I watched my mom and dad drink themselves almost to death and it ruined my childhood. Because of that, I have vowed never to touch a drop of alcohol. I don't need it and I am fine without it."
"I was sexually abused at a young age. Because of that I have intimacy issues and see a therapist on a regular basis. As a result, I recognize that I have issues with impulsive promiscuous behavior, and don't want to threaten my current relationship... so I don't put myself in compromising positions. No drinks after work with colleagues. No sexual talk at work. No girls' nights out drinking and going to clubs. I tell my boyfriend about all of the men that contact me and hit on me at work... I don't want to leave anything a secret no matter how small. Trust and transparency are important."
"My mother was abusive to my father. She would always hit him and belittle him and call him names in front of me. Because of that, I vowed to never do that to my man... but, I recognize that I'm also attracted to guys like my dad and find myself later loathing them and sometimes acting like my mom. I need to get to the bottom of this and talk to a therapist. I need to learn to better control my anger."
But, of course... it's never that easy, is it? It's VERY tempting to take your hands off the wheel for just a second. "I shouldn't HAVE to always be steering the car. This is stupid. SALLY doesn't have to stear HER car all the time! I should be able to take my hands off the wheel whenever I want!" - This is not a good thing. This is what we call a broken woman. Mature people recognize that life isn't "fair". We all have our own little crosses to bear and we all overcome and navigate through life in our own way. We each have our own special prescription bottle with "take these if you want to be healthy and not hurt yourself and others" pills. We take our medicine every day and we deal with it.
So with all that being said...you'll hear me preach abundance and not tying yourself to one woman to the point of ignoring red flags. I still believe that 100%. If you see things that make you say "uh oh" repeatedly, you don't walk away... you run. Listen to your gut. If you are repeatedly running into the same issues that means that your woman, with all of her baggage, has taken her hands off the wheel and you're about to be ejected through the windshield and end up as a quadriplegic face down in a mud puddle. Broken people bring down and destroy all those around them if they have the chance.
Don't give somebody repeated breaks just because they otherwise make you feel good. This is your life partner we're talking about here. This woman is potentially the mother to your kids. If she repeatedly crosses the line into inappropriate or destructive behavior, you're in for big time trouble. Recognize it and get out of the damn car.
If your woman slips up and says "Alright... that was wrong. I'm sorry. I'll fix this" and she GENUINELY tries to fix it... and DOES fix it? Then bravo to her. You have a winner. She's an adult and she saw shortcomings in herself and saw a way to improve. There's nothing more admirable than that.
Unless she screwed some other dude... then it's just over. Sorry guys.