We all have some type of baggage that we carry into relationships. We may bring our own insecurities that were originally caused by an unforgiving adolescence, or perhaps we’re on high alert due to a previous partner’s infidelities. We might bring our people-pleasing that was taught to us through an improper discipline structure, or perhaps we bring a need to be validated, curated by the constant praises we were once offered as nourishment. Then there are things we bring in without realizing it, such as abandonment issues due to the loss of a loved one (often a parent), or the propensity to be codependent. Add the obvious baggage like divorces, failed relationships and kids from previous relationships, and we have a melting pot of baggage.

We don’t get to choose our baggage, but we do get to choose how we interact with others and what we present to them.

Know Thyself 

Before you begin to share your space and energy with someone, you need to learn about yourself and the baggage that you bring. I brought abandonment issues to my relationship that manifested as me wanting to literally be in the presence of my guy every moment I got. I had just lost my mother and wanted physical reassurance. That’s a whammy. Once I realized my issues and how they weighed on my partner, I gained a perspective and worked through them. I did the work. No one wants to date someone who is unaware of the work they have done or need to do.

Know What You Can Deal With

If you’re not whole, then wanting to date someone who isn’t whole or has baggage that may be cumbersome for you is not the smartest assessment. Also, knowing what you desire and dating the opposite of that isn’t ideal either. If you do not want children, then dating someone with kids is not the route to go. If you know you want to get married, then dating someone with a jaded perspective about marriage would be difficult. 

Be Transparent

Be upfront about your expectations and what you can and cannot deal with. Also be as forthcoming about what you are dealing with on a personal level. Dating shouldn’t be a “surprise, guess what you learn today” thing. It should be a “I am here at this point. You are at that point. We share core values, so let’s learn about each other and build from there” thing.

Give Grace 

Because we all have baggage, we should try to extend grace when the opportunity arises, as long as it does not encroach on our comfort or boundaries to do so. Grace is the understanding that we all aren’t perfect and that each time someone does something, it isn’t intentional. It’s a mere reflection of where they are in their life and what we are aware of at the time. It’s their frame of reference that is determining their actions, not you or what you represent.