Seems like people are always looking to date someone who doesn't have a lot of "baggage." Many of the Internet dating ads and profiles I've read have specified "no drama" and/or "no baggage." I think what people mean is they are looking for someone without a lot of unresolved emotional issues from previous relationships. Additionally, not wanting to be judged or held to a higher standard based on previous partner's mistakes seems to be a part of this.
I'm having an interesting journey with this idea of late. I've always thought of myself as someone without a lot of baggage. When I report on the number of boyfriends I've had, I only count about 3 - that's my creative math at work - even though I've dated many more. These three are the ones that lasted a long time, that I was very emotionally invested in and are the only ones who broke up with me (read: broke my heart). I don't count those relationships I had overseas that I knew would end when I left the country, I don't count those ones that I ended and I don't count the ones that I just hung on for the ride knowing it wasn't going anywhere, but having fun nonetheless. Anyways, of the ones that count, I feel like I've really worked through those issues. I've had anywhere from 4-15 years to work through them and I've done a fair bit of emotional processing and personal growth work since then.
However, this weekend my baggage was put right into my face. I realize that I've reacted to a situation with my partner in an entirely justifiable way from a place of fear generated from the dissolution of my last relationship. Wow. My baggage, my problem, right? Wrong. So here's the revolutionary concept - it's not okay for me to lay my baggage on my partner's door, blame him, judge him or change the standards on him, but it is okay for me to acknowledge the problem I'm having and ask for his help in resolving it in our relationship. Just because a feeling comes from the bad effects of a previous relationship doesn't make it any less valid or any less important to deal with together if it affects our relationship.
We carry around baggage from previous romantic relationships, but also from our family-of-origin, our relationships with age-mates and basically any interaction that we've ever had that was hurtful. I would hope that my partner would want to help me, in as much as I am helping myself, to overcome any of those unresolved emotional issues to strengthen and deepen our relationship, regardless of the source. I guess I have to acknowledge that I have baggage to get us started though...hm.
"I'm lookin' for baggage that goes with mine."
(Mimi - RENT)