Why Dating “Baggage” Isn’t Really Baggage
What’s The Tv Series Yellowstone Got to Do with It?
For months, I resisted watching Yellowstone, the celebrated Peacock television series. But once I started, I can’t stop. What’s got me hooked – everything! Not only are the stories of the wealthy Dutton ranching family dynasty shocking and fast-paced, but the beauty of Montana also keeps me and all viewers mesmerized.
Each of the major characters has a gold mine of great writing to deliver. But the plain-spoken musings of Kevin Costner as John Dutton, the patriarch of the dysfunctional family, are the most acerbic and memorable. What John Dutton has to say about life, relationships, and lessons learned got me thinking about dating in mid-life.
By the time we have experienced and possibly transitioned out of long romantic relationships, we are adults in middle age. We have experienced many changes. And through them we learn about ourselves and the world around us.
The question is: Have we learned to outlive our past? Because if we haven’t grown from our past, we are weighed down by it.
What’s Considered ‘Having Baggage’?
Have you ever heard a friend in the dating world say: “Oh, I couldn’t go out with him. He has way too much baggage.” OR “I met man I really liked, but he told me I had a lot of baggage.”
So what is baggage? The dictionary would describe baggage as a conveyance used to carry our belongings from one place to another. We must have some form of baggage to get us from point A to point B. The problem comes when you (and I) overpack, and then suffer the consequences of lugging around the extra weight on our travels.
In the dating world, the term ‘baggage’ is usually meant as code to suggest people have attachments that make them unsuitable to enter into a relationship.
Commonly talked about examples of relationship baggage include:
- Children, particularly younger ones, who need fulltime care
- Ex-spouses who are contentious or difficult
- Families that are dramatic or meddle
- Jobs which require exceptional time and/or travel
- Personal circumstances including debt, illness, or geographic location
- Religious beliefs that are not in synch with a potential partner
But these “factoids” are just that. They are data points about who we are, or who we WERE in relationship to others, sometimes from a past life.
I admit that some aspects of our ‘life data’ can’t be changed. But so much of it can. Why? Because life itself changes constantly. Children grow, drama in prior relationships fades away, jobs change, belief systems are altered, and circumstances morph.
When someone is told they aren’t eligible to date because they have “too much baggage”, often what is really meant is that there isn’t a potential fit. “Having baggage” becomes a convenient label and cover-up to the truth about why this particular match isn’t right.
Can We Have ‘Good’ Baggage?
My experience as described by the funny stories in my book “Mom…You Just Need to Get Laid: The Adventures of Dating After Divorce” illustrates that what one person thinks of as negative baggage, another thinks of as a win-win. For example, one of the 15 men I describe in my book told me that my being a cancer survivor made me “risky to date because you might die”. Others appreciated the growth and courage that my cancer journey required of me.
I like to think of the good baggage we bring from our pasts as being what makes us MOST desirable, not less.
For example, are you the kind of person with the following ‘baggage’:
1) a sense of humor from the experiences you’ve had?
2) an appreciation for the stories of others as a chance to learn more about life?
3) curiosity and empathy for your dates which enriches your own compassion?
4) spontaneity and a sense of adventure because you appreciate opportunity?
5) a confidence borne of the lessons you’ve learned?
If so, you have very GOOD dating baggage to add to your dating eligibility. Write to me at Kate@KateSomerset.com and tell me about your dating baggage. I say, let it define you!