Baggage isn’t bad; it’s practical.

Emily (The Bachelorette) threw a fit this season when one of the contestants referred to her child as baggage. His honesty also drew the ire of female viewers as they hissed every time the camera was on him. He was pressured into apologizing, which came off as inauthentic and made things worse.

Em, while it was cute to hear you assert yourself by saying, “Get the fuck out,” you need to check your shit. Everybody has baggage; that doesn’t make it bad. If you meet someone without baggage, that person is hiding his baggage in the closet. If you meet someone who says he is blessed by having the opportunity to handle your baggage, he’s lying to gain your approval.

Baggage needs to be considered when you enter into a relationship. Some baggage is light and insignificant and some baggage is bulky and ever-present.

This is baggage:

  • children
  • pets
  • overbearing relatives
  • exes who haven’t let go
  • debt
  • jobs that require long days or travel
  • smoking
  • church/politics
  • furnishings
  • obsessions about exercise, diet, or TV shows

This list goes on.

The person carrying the baggage may be perfectly capable of carrying it without imposing on you. Other people may be actively seeking someone to help with baggage handling. It’s up to you whether lending a hand will be worthwhile (appreciated) or painful. You must consider if you’re willing to make this person’s baggage your baggage.

I find as I get older, my capacity for handling others’ baggage diminishes. If lending a hand causes stress, it injures me because stress kills. If I see it as an investment, it’s almost twice as bad because I’ll be hoping she returns the favor, which, if she does, will probably cause her stress.

We should each take inventory of our baggage, and become aware of what it takes to handle it. The better we can handle our own, the more attractive we become. That doesn’t mean stuffing it under the bed and acting as though it doesn’t exist. It means being able to admit, “I have this baggage, I’m handling it, and I still have a free hand to hold you.”

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About the author

Author of humorous essays about relationships and lifestyles.