I watched a TV show the other day anchored by Jerry Springler. Intresting show. (I use the word interesting loosely to mean ‘holding ones interest’). The show I watched was essentially about three women competing for the interests of a guy but they had to reveal in ascending order, their baggage. After the man has picked one of the three women he wants to date, he then reveals his biggest baggage and the lady decides whether she can, or wants to live with it.
While watching the show, it occurred to me how much baggage we carry over from previous relationships and I don’t mean only sexual ones. I also came to redefine the term baggage.
Before now, I used to think baggage was something inherently negative. Like some deep dark secret that you so do not want anyone to know about. But, I have come to learn that a baggage can also be something positive in your life which the person you are getting into a relationship with percieves as negative because he cannot live with it.
For instance, a girl who has kept her virginity before marriage has done a good thing. But, she might meet a guy who wants ‘experience’ in that area and to him, her being a virgin or wantng to wait till she is married might be a baggage he cannot deal with. On the other hand, a woman with kids may consider herself as too much baggage for a guy who has never been married but he just may not even see this as baggage. What is considered baggage is therefore based on individual perception.
Everyone has baggage, but some people’s baggage is bigger than others. Again, how big or not a baggage is, depends on the person managing it. It is just like a person working in an organisation. While some people crack under very little pressure some pleasure in it. While some can only work 9-5, others would rather be entrepreneurs while yet others can run 14 to 20 hour shifts each day as long as they enjoy what they are doing.
The big question then is: can you manage their baggage? Then another question: how can you manage what you do not know? Which raises a further question: at what point should you reveal your baggage?
I think the answer to the final question is: share your baggage when you are good and ready and when you feel the relationship has progressed enough for you to be that vulnerable. And if it is baggage you cannot absolutely deal with, be upfront about it.
For instance, at the start of a relationship, there are upfront baggage that should be dealt with- will the relationship involve sex? Who will handle the finances? If the relationship leads to marriage, will you have any children? How many children will you have? What will be the relationship with in-laws? Questions like these reveal the baggage that a partner is bringing into the relationship. A man who is overly attached to his mother will probably insist that she visits often or even comes to stay with you. Can you as the woman deal with this? It may not be necessary to drive all the way to the bridge if you know you can’t cross it.
Some baggage will be unknowingly revealed by your partner. You just have to be observant and ask questions when you see a red flag. Does he bottle up emotions? Is she a big spender? Is he prone to anger? Is she overly aggressive, controlling? These traits can be observed through words and actions.
So, can you deal with their baggage? Honesty and openness on the part of both parties along with a measure of tolerance will provide the best answer.