“I Want Someone Without Baggage.” Translation: I Really Want to Avoid Doing Any Hard Work
Before the current BF moved into my house for an extended period this past May, I had spent a fair amount of time on various online dating sites. We were on and off for a decade, and in the off times we both were usually on Match. Interestingly enough that was usually where we would stare at each other’s photos and realize that ultimately, we missed each other. Invariably we ended up back together.
And here we are. In many ways, dealing with each other’s baggage.
That’s precisely the way it’s supposed to be.
In all the years I perused the profiles of male hopefuls across the dating spectrum, the above claim about wanting to find someone who wasn’t lugging around her fair share of shit was among the most common.
Here’s my problem with this.
First: this implies, as you demand someone without their Samsonite, that YOU of course don’t have any.
Bullshit, Sherlock. Your carry-ons are just as big or bigger, especially if you deny that you have any.
Second, what this telegraphs is that you want love to be easy, simple, marvelous, perfect, and no worries, man.
Love isn’t like that. Not one bit. And if it were, then you and I aren’t doing the real work.
Third, and stay with me here, what we’re really searching for is a matching, interlocking set. Your baggage and my baggage are perfect for each other.
Whether that’s for the time being or the long run is anyone’s guess.
The personal stuff I have to work on matches the life and parental junk that you have to work on. That means we load all our collective baggage onto the same flight, sit down next to each other and do our level best to figure this shit out.
Yours, Mine, and Ours.
That 1968 movie involved folks getting together- incomprehensively these days, as it were, as one partner had eight kids, the other ten.
Let’s talk baggage, folks. Eighteen kids under one roof and parents who are trying to sort out their own crap between themselves.
Look, compared to this, most of us have it pretty easy. Often it’s just the two of us trying to get along. And boy do we complain about that as though it’s just too much. Just, way too much.
Oh bullswocky. Get over it already.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s play here. Let’s say that in my case, I have a history of drug addicted parents, sexual assault and men who have left me for other women. Baggage? You betcha.
Let’s say my husband has a history of moving all over the country with a military parent, being bullied at school, and a vicious case of acne that made him the butt of school jokes. No girl would go out with the spotted school joke. Baggage? You betcha.
Turns out that as a result of these very issues we have an immediate and visceral understanding of each other. What rejection feels like. When we talk we feel seen. Heard. Valued.
Nobody signs up for life’s vicissitudes. Yet we all have luggage loaded with heavy rocks. Part of why we have partners is to learn not only how to deal with our own, but also to help those we love deal with theirs. Their stuff perfectly mirrors our stuff. The issues they bear tease out those we need to face. Deal with.
How we do that both alone and together takes courage. In this way we can inspire and uplift each other.
Nobody goes through life unscathed.
Thank God they don’t.
Why? Because people who haven’t paid some kind of emotional price are seriously lacking in empathy. Compassion. If they shot through their years without pain or hurt or loss, they often can’t conceive of why anyone else might experience sadness. They are devoid of understanding.
Kinda like dating a mildly attractive rock. Nice to look at but not much for company. Years ago Pet Rocks were a major thing. Personally I rather prefer a warm body, even if it does entail risks. The rewards are too great.
There’s an old ABBA song, Gimme Gimme Gimme Me (a Man After Midnight), which speaks in part to the times of anonymous sex and disco hookups. It also speaks directly to how some of us really just want the goodies without the work. Ultimately that’s as shallow and full of shit as a kiddie wading pool.
People who have empty luggage aren’t folks I’d choose to hang out with. Their souls are way, way too light on love. Love borne of the kind of life scars that teach us to listen. To hear. Bear witness. Offer solace, especially to those whose pain is similar in some ways to our own.
The moment I saw the demand for “no baggage” on a man’s profile, I knew that I was looking at someone who had no commitment to collaborate. To partner. Could be laziness. Or denial, more likely.
Folks like this are trying to swim the emotional “English Channel” with a piano attached to one ankle, in effect. People who are weighed down with pain, hurt, events, losses but who are in complete denial they exist.
Such folks end up lashing out, hurting, doing severe damage to others for that very reason: they aren’t willing to do the work on themselves. Blinded to the pain they themselves carry, they take out their resentment for past hurts on others. In other words, very nasty baggage. But of course, they don’t have any.
Of course they don’t.
My BF’s baggage is perfect for me. The flight we’re on, this journey we’re taking is bumpy at times. We encounter turbulence. We also have bright, sunny, gorgeous days. Every so often we pull something down from the overhead compartment and take a look at what’s inside.
Sometimes, not very nice. Others, damn, man. You curl up with that person’s arms around you and you radiate gratitude.
You just effing radiate gratitude.
To be born into this life, no matter how poor or rich, no matter your family conditions, is to accumulate “baggage.” It’s how we learn to live well. Every single person we meet, date, interact with is in some way our teacher. If we’re willing to see it that way we can develop an attitude of grace around anyone who shows up along our path.
Baggage is a large part of what makes us who we are, and who we can become. Being willing to help those we love carry their baggage, as they help us carry ours, is part of both the challenge and the fun.
Here’s to finding your interlocking set.