Baggage Claim

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There are two common analogies referenced in the dating scene. The first one involves “test-driving the car” and the second involves “baggage”. Both analogies piss me off beyond belief.

I’m not even going to start on the car analogy. Another day perhaps.

Singles, raise your hand if you have ever been asked, “Do you really want to date someone with all that baggage?”, or worse if you have ever been asked, “Do you really think that person would want to date you – with all your baggage?”

Why do these questions make me mad? Let me tell you.

1)      Everyone has baggage. Everyone. I don’t care if you’ve been married and divorced five times. I don’t care if you are like me – and have managed to dodge committed relationships for some time. Everyone has baggage. Different types, different sizes, shapes, colors, and so on. But baggage, nonetheless.

2)      Baggage is very vague. If I am going on a trip, a person cannot tell how equipped I am for the journey simply by eyeing my baggage. (We’ll say it’s a hiking trip. Something where a lot of heavy baggage does not seem preferable – as most people indicate a relationship is better without a lot of heavy baggage.) Without knowing what’s inside all of those suitcases – a person cannot say whether or not I’m prepared. They also cannot guess how heavy my baggage is. For instance, I may set a large piece of luggage directly next to a small piece of luggage. To the bare eye, it would appear that the larger bag is going to be heavier, and thus more burdensome. In all reality, however, that black bag may be full of cotton balls while the red bag is full of bricks. (I plan to build a house or something out of bricks and cotton balls on my hiking trip… obviously.) The person lugging around that black bag may appear to have “more emotional baggage”, but the person carrying that red bag may actually bring the larger burden to the relationship.

Just because the black one’s bigger, doesn’t mean it’s a heavier burden!

3)      Children are often called baggage. This is the big one – the one that really makes me seethe. How dare you compare a child [an emotional, valuable, vulnerable, and significant human being] to a carry-on at the airport! The reference is completely inappropriate. And yet, I hear it all the time. “You’re interested in a man with kids? Do you really want to date a guy with all that baggage?” It’s all I can do not to flip out at people who ask me these kinds of questions.

Ben and Benny: This is an old picture, but it is one of my favorites!

Instead I have to maintain my self-control and explain to them, “Parental skills are an important thing to consider in a serious relationship, and if the man does not already have kids, it’s really just a guessing game as to what kind of father he may turn out to be. To be honest, it’s kind of a turn-on to see that a man who already has a child seems to be a good daddy. Plus, just because I don’t have any children, that doesn’t mean I don’t have baggage. He would have to put up with mine as well.”

Just to add weight to my argument, I often reference my brother. Ben, I’m sorry if you don’t want to be referenced, but I often describe your relationship with Benny to others when we begin to discuss “baggage”. You are a great father! If anyone ever refers to Benny as “baggage”, they will have to suffer the wrath of his Aunt Sarah!!

Those are the primary reasons this subject angers me. There are a few other minor reasons. But I think those are the most important. Do me a favor, people:

  • Quit referring to children as baggage. It is never an okay analogy.
  • Stop calling divorce baggage. Ask the real question, “Are you okay with dating someone who has been divorced?”
  • Don’t forget that those are not the only two forms of baggage. Non-marriage relationships, family problems, and abuse, to name a few, could all be classified as “baggage” also. But don’t call them baggage.
  • Don’t ever use the “test-drive the car” analogy with me either. I may slap you.
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