“Have you ever been abused?” was the question my friend got on her third date out with a non-baggage handler.
It was out of the blue, apropos of nothing, and it stopped her in her tracks. He clarified, “A lot of women seem to come with baggage these days.”
The dream date: the baggage free human. It’s an aspirational goal. It just so happens that as you age that dream date starts to look more like a white whale, a unicorn, a yeti — rumored, but unconfirmed by sight.
My own theory is that after 25 there is no one who is baggage free. By the age of 25 it is impossible to avoid having things happen to you. By 25 life has treated you, shall we say, unfairly and you are no longer the pristine blank-slate dream date of someone else’s fantasy. Or even your own fantasy.
You’ve been married and then divorced, you’ve had kids, you had one long-term relationship that ended really, really badly. You made mistakes, you were the victim of mistakes, malicious action, idiocy. Life.
Let’s face it, dating in your 30s looks nothing like dating in your 20s. In your 20s I’m not even sure we’re real people yet, we’re just opportunities and options and ignored advice.
By your 30s you’re stocked up with the baggage of recovering from your 20s.
Odds are that by your 30s someone out there is recovering from you, and you are recovering from someone else. Baggage.
Of course, not all baggage is created equal. It’s all about if you’ve learned in that time how to be a grown-up. Some people come with a lot of seriously huge baggage, and yet they’ve sought help for it, they’ve learned from it, they’ve grown, they’ve adapted, they now have character.
Character, good character, is what you should look for in your 30s.
Because those others? The ones who can’t be bothered to look at their baggage, process it, handle it, get help, get advice, change, well these poor morons are the ones you actually want to avoid like crazy. These are the people we fear when we’re talking about baggage.
So maybe the divorcee is not damaged goods, and maybe the dad with kids is not a trainwreck, maybe maybe someone who’s been sexually assaulted is the grown-up in the room.
Find you someone with character. Good character. After that, everything about them will be fascinating, not draining, amazing and not terrifying.