Romance 101: Is baggage an acceptable accessory?
Baggage. It’s the one thing all of us have that no one will fess up to having. That time you were cheated on, the certain someone who broke your heart, the crazy ex who won’t leave you alone—it’s everywhere, but everyone tries to hide it. And, if we do decide that it’s worth knowing that new special someone’s deepest, darkest secrets, we generally never want to talk about it again. Honestly, a set of bad baggage is enough to scare off most prospective partners.
At least, so I thought. My summer roommate had just gotten out of a bad relationship with an alcoholic boyfriend when she started dating Adam, our new neighbor. She tried to keep her past a secret, in spite of the intense fear she felt every time we went out for drinks with her new companion. One day, she came up to my room, sat on my bed with a confused look and said, “He won’t stop asking me about my ex. And he wants me to…talk about it with him…about my feelings.” She looked at me, skeptical and confused. “Since when is it okay to have baggage?”
The question was one I had also been asking myself recently. After a terrible experience trying a long-distance relationship post-high school, I was absolutely petrified to embark on another attempt at distance with my current boyfriend, Ben, who graduated and is now living in Washington, D.C. But, despite my tendency to get teary whenever we discussed the future, and my sometimes paranoid calls on Saturday evenings, Ben is constantly calm, collected and reassuring.
So why does it seem that people are suddenly OK with baggage? It is by no means endearing to date someone who flinches after you have two drinks or who texts you when you are out enjoying a new city with new friends.
Some would say it’s about lower standards. Let’s face it: As we get older, the distance between us and the “real world” becomes alarmingly smaller. And, while people talk about dating around in their 20s, the ability to sustain a relationship with another person—someone who actually wants to be with you all the time—can connote stability and success in the real world. Or, so the cynic would say.
But I prefer to believe that people are finally realizing that everyone’s got something “wrong” with them. No one is baggage-free, just as nobody lacks some bizarre quirk or habit that can seem like a deal-breaker. And while that means your special someone isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean he or she isn’t perfect for you.
Bottom line: Life is more fun if you can share it with someone who gets you, regardless of whether they bite their nails, have a cursing habit or a crazy ex. And if they can’t handle your baggage, you don’t need to deal with theirs.