Roger: I’ve been trying, I’m not lying, no-one’s perfect, I’ve got baggage…
Mimi: Life’s too short babe, time is flying, I’m looking for baggage that goes with mine!
[If you don’t know what this quote is from, go and educate yourself immediately. Go on. I’ll wait.]
How often do you see dating site profiles and personals ads staying the owner is looking for someone “low drama” or with “no baggage?” Whenever I see this, I smirk wryly to myself, close the ad and move on to the next one.
Look, I hate unnecessary drama as much as the next person (though not as much as I hate people who use “drama” as a stand in for “has opinions” or “doesn’t tolerate my shit.”) But I’ve got baggage. And, I’m willing to bet, so do most of the people reading this post, to a greater or lesser extent. And you know what else? So, I am sure, do most of the people writing that they want to date someone with “no baggage.”
Unless we’re supremely lucky as well as immensely socially privileged, very few of us make it to adulthood with no baggage at all. With an estimated one in 4 women and one in 6 men suffering some kind of abuse in their lifetimes, and approximately one in 4 adults suffering from some kind of mental health condition at any one time, the odds of any given person having “baggage” of some description is high to say the least.
When I got together with Mr CK, he knew about some of mine and I knew about some of his, and more came out as we fell in love and learned to trust each other. With every turn, one or the other of us feared that the other would decide our baggage was too much to handle, turn tail and run. So why didn’t we? Lots of reasons, but one of the fundamental ones for me was simply this: he gets me. We can relate to each other’s experience, and we can speak to each other on a level that says, I understand.
I can’t relate to people who’ve had everything easy. I can’t relate to people with no baggage, no trauma, no scars. I relate to survivors, to people who have had difficult times, to people with their own struggles and hang-ups and anxieties and brain weasels.
I keep telling my newish sweetie, The Artist, that they’re dating Ms. Trust Issues. They are supremely kind and supportive about this while also not in any way denying or downplaying that my trust issues are, in fact, very real. Because I am more than my baggage and, for now at least, they’ve decided my baggage is not beyond their ability or desire to handle.
There are people with baggage which would absolutely not go with mine. Think about (not an example from my life) this situation: a survivor of childhood abuse due to an alcoholic parent, and someone who struggles with substance dependency issues. These two people should almost certainly not be in a relationship, because their respective baggage clashes in such a way that it will likely just amplify the issues for both people and make them thoroughly unhappy.
I’m learning to recognise the things I simply cannot deal with in another person. Someone with anger management issues, for example, should absolutely not ever be in a relationship with me, a girl who has a panic attack at yelling and shouting. Having baggage that is incompatible with mine does not make someone a bad person, too fucked up, or any other gross judgement you can think of. It simply means we will not be good for each other and one or both of us may be harmed more if we try to have an intimate relationship.
So, Well Meaning Person on a Dating Site who wants a relationship with as little unnecessary angst and conflict as possible: you’re not actually looking for someone with no baggage, unless you’re looking for someone who’s barely into adulthood (ugh, I hope not) or you’re looking for a robot.
What you’re looking for is someone whose baggage is compatible with yours.
The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons licensing.