Social Question

Unbroken's avatar

Dating, when do you mention your baggage?

Asked by Unbroken (10257 points ) December 9th, 2012

Say you start chatting with someone in a grocery line, and later bump into them at a coffee shop. This leads to a couple dates.
Your interested but you really don’t know the person that well and same the other side.

You have been casually evading anything that comes off as baggage. Keeping things light and fun. But when does it become misleading not to mention baggage that could potentially affect the relationship.

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28 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I would discuss baggage early on. This is self protective. I would not want to even begin getting interested in someone without knowing if my baggage would be a problem. It would be so much worse to start caring for someone only to find they have a policy against people with mental illness.

Coloma's avatar

My baggage is so old now it’s disintegrated. After being divorced for 10 years this month I have practically forgotten I ever had any. haha
I don’t think you should even worry about some sort of timing, unless you have conditions that require total disclosure asap.
I would say any STD’s, mental health issues/medications/ongoing therapies, prison time….lol etc.

I would want to know these pertinent facts very early on.
Otherwise the why’s of past failed relationships and divorces etc. can wait a bit.

Mariah's avatar

It was hard for me to figure out too, especially because my baggage directly affects my ability to have a sex life. Fortunately I started out friends with my guy, and being pretty open about my medical experiences he knew going into a relationship that things were going to be a little trickier than average. He didn’t realize the extent though, and figuring out when to drop that bomb was tough.

I waited awhile mainly because I felt I would come off accusatory if I mentioned “oh by the way I have physical problems that might make it impossible for us to have sex” early on in the relationship. Felt too forward; I didn’t want to accuse him of having sex as his main goal in the relationship. But obviously I knew I couldn’t wait around forever, and when we started getting physical whatsoever (kissing and whatnot) I felt it was time to let him know.

It was hard, and awkward, and I felt guilty for not saying anything sooner, but there hadn’t been a good time. I guess there’s probably never a good time for talks like that. But he took it well and has been very flexible working with me learning how to figure everything out. I’ve learned he’s good at working through issues like this, and honestly I feel closer to him for having experienced that together. Things have worked out quite nicely.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Depends on what said baggage is. If it’s an integral part of your life, then do it early on. No reason to waste both your time and theirs if it could be a deal breaker.

ucme's avatar

Ted Bundy spilt the beans right from the get go, the naughty boy.

Coloma's avatar

@ucme LOL…yeah
” Hi, I’m Ted, and I feel I should let you know that I have a little problem with strangling women and savaging their corpses.I hope we can work around this.”

ucme's avatar

“I’m just dying to get to know you better, i’m all choked up with emotion!”

augustlan's avatar

I don’t usually have a specific talk about baggage. It all just comes out as part of the ‘getting to know you’ phase. Talking about our lives, our interests, our pasts…it all has been a very natural progression, for the most part. If there were something really major, I might handle that differently, but I’m not sure. I just naturally tend to be very open very early on, and I probably would be in that instance, too.

The only time I’ve ever had a specific conversation like this was when the guy I was seeing had a specific fault he wanted to tell me about, one that might affect the relationship in the future. When he he told me, I gave him my potentially relationship-affecting faults in a nutshell, too. They weren’t deal breakers for either of us, and we ended up married to each other. ;)

Bellatrix's avatar

I think mentioning whatever the ‘baggage’ is early on is a good idea. I wouldn’t go into any extreme detail too early though. So, “I am divorced. I have been for xxx years/months and we are still finalising some of the details”. Not that I think my children are baggage but some partners might so “I am a single-parent with three children, you?”

I just think spilling your guts to any great detail would be very off-putting but better to get the facts out in case they run a mile. Of course, my husband who has no children did tell me “he didn’t do children”. Since he had known me since before I ever had any I firmly pointed out that I came with three so if that wasn’t going to work for him, the door was that way——>. We have now been together 12 years so obviously he got over his child issues.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

In my current relationship, I waited about 2 months before I revealed one thing. That was after half a dozen dates. I then waited another month before revealing my only other bit of baggage.

I’ve been badly burned in the past, so I’m cautious with whom I reveal what to.

creative1's avatar

You ease it all in slowly thats what dating is for, getting to know each other more and more with each date which includes what you consider baggage. I tell people about my children right off and slowly add the medical issues with one of them not that I consider them baggage but some may not like children especially one with special needs so its something I feel has to come out sooner than later before your too invested in someone that doesn’t want that in their life.

wundayatta's avatar

If I were dating, I would put all my “baggage” in my description on my dating site of choice. Then the people who didn’t like it would self select out, and I’d never have to deal with them. The people who were interested would know up front and it wouldn’t ever be an issue.

For dating in person… well, this is why I have never done that and never will. Dating is not a good way to get to know people. I get to know people doing other activities, and by the time we start getting romantically involved, they already know a lot about me just from talking to me and others in non-romantic situations.

Dating is so artificial and prone to gamesmanship. I don’t even know how people get to know each other, unless they are really pretty bland people and there’s not much to know. But if you have differences, and you are always worrying about how to present them or whether to present them and when to present them—how can you be natural? How can you be yourself?

When I was a teen, I thought I had to pretend to be someone else in order to impress a woman. Money, brawn, being impressive—that what I thought you needed to be successful at dating. I wasn’t impressive. Not by a long shot. So I never dated.

But that turned out to be a good thing. A few women actually liked me when they got to know me in a natural way. I may not be impressive, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to like. Later on, I even discovered that showing your flaws can be attractive. There are women who like men who aren’t anywhere near perfect. I’ve even been accused of being interesting.

So I don’t think dating is really a good thing to do, and if you have baggage, whatever that is, it’s probably a really unfortunate way to meet people.

Be flawed! Don’t date! ;-)

Hmmm, I wonder if you could set up a non-dating dating site on this principle. J-don’t-date!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@wundayatta I don’t know what you consider a date, but I believe it’s really the only way to get to know a person. Of course, I consider hiking to a lava flow a date. Hot! Hot! Hot!

As for what we did as teenagers, what was natural? Didn’t we all spend the vast majority of our teenage years pretending and trying to impress?

Dating doesn’t have to be artificial. I’m experiencing open communication in my current relationship that I haven’t had in a very long time. I put an ad on a dating site stating plainly I was in the market for a husband and not a one night stand. I mentioned taking it slowly. We’re doing that.

My favorite date with the person I had a 14-year relationship with was studying grass around several neighborhoods. We still smile about it today.

blueiiznh's avatar

For the serious answer:
It comes out when it comes out. It is not like there is a rule that says “On the 4th date, you dump all of your past in their lap” They really may not care. Some others make too much a big deal of your past that they are not looking at what is in front of them now.

You talk about it when any questions arise. You answer honestly with no shame or anything to hide.

What is in a persons past may or may not be reflective of who they are now. Certainly there are details that are important as you move through getting to know someone (kids, wifes, ex wifes, criminal background, STD, martian, zombie, etc), but again those come at the right time.

If someone asks questions that are uncomfortable, then take it for what its worth. If you want to know something and the person is evasive, then also take that for what its worth.

Just be yourself !!!!!!

Coloma's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Haha, I love it! Studying grass.

My favorite date was going Goat Packing in the Sierras.
The goats carried in the picnic fare and wine and scampered around while we ate and drank and made merry along the a fork of the river. Great date!

wundayatta's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake A date is asking someone to do something specifically for the purpose of getting to know them for potentially romantic reasons.

If you are doing something together for the purpose of doing that thing, then it is not a date to get to know the person. It is about doing the thing. That’s quite different. There’s no pressure in that situation. No secondary agendas. If you’re just getting together as friends, that’s not a date, either.

What makes a date is the agenda. I’m glad you are taking it slowly on your husband search. That takes some of the pressure of the agenda off. And perhaps that works for you. Which is fine, of course.

It would mess up my head. When I get into that headset of getting to know someone instead of just doing something with them, it makes me think about extraneous stuff and then I get unnatural, and oh I don’t know. I hope I never have to do it. I just can’t play that game. I hate playing games where I don’t know the rules. I’m just really bad at it.

blueiiznh's avatar

@wundayatta I disagree that a date has to be tied to “potentially romantic reasons”

If I want to spend time with someone or ask them some place or event, it is to spend time with them because I want to spend time with them. Simply put, there are no expectations. They are a person that I enjoy spending time with or simply want to. To me, that is how your get to know a person.

I think however we agree on the rest.

wundayatta's avatar

Yeah, @blueiiznh, we define the term differently. I would not consider that a date. Either one of two things is happening if I’m in a situation like that. One, we’re just friends and we’re spending time together. Two, I’m in denial about looking for a potential something else with this person.

Judi's avatar

I haven’t read the other answers yet, and this might be an old fashioned answer, but I would say somewhere between the first kiss and spending the night.

Coloma's avatar

@Judi Yes, especially if your name is Lola.
Looola, Lo, Lo, Lo, Lo, Loooolaaaa…....

PeppermintBiscuit's avatar

@Coloma Hahaha!!!! That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week!!

Coloma's avatar

@PeppermintBiscuit Haha…NOW I can’t quit singing Lola to myself. Ear worm of the day. ;-P

Unbroken's avatar

Ya’ll are too funny…. Love that song. Or do I… Alll I ever seem to remember is that part.. Ear worm indeed.
@wundayatta so you would like a bunch of random women too know about your mental illness. I“m not saying I don’t see your point.
@Coloma Haha.. Disintergrate away.
@Mariah Yeah I am so with you there. I mean, people don’t understand sickness and I mean it can be a deal breaker but then again if it’s not going to work out in the long run do you really need to explain things to them and have to deal with pity and questions when you are just going to break up with them down the road later. Glad you found someone though.
@livelaughlove21 See your point, but then again if it is a deal breaker do you really want some stranger to run around with personal knowledge of you. If you can weed them out before hand…
@Coloma & @ucme the misellania you pick up at Fluther.
@augustlan Awwww Very sweet. Straightforwardness can indeed be refreshing.
@Bellatrix Yeah that would probably be the stalker boyfriend but not the medical issues… those people just have a ton of questions about and come back to the next date armed with knowledge and more specific questions.
@Hawaii_Jake I feel you. I am at the point where I pretty much have to intentionally mislead to continue at which point I would be guilty of creating a bad start. But on the other hand. I pretty much see his date face which is nice but it’s only what he wants me to see. So yeah.
@wundayatta The dating formula does seem flawed in that you can get a misleading sense of a person. You don’t see how they interact at work or meet their friends until later, they clean the house for you if you are going to stop by open doors and pull out chairs and are nice to the wait staff and are funny sensitive smart etc… You say ok yeah let’s do this date, have sex etc and then you meet a completely different person. But on the other hand should shutting the door on every opportunity because you might not like the results seem less then ideal.
@blueiiznh I used to think like and that is a part of my perfect world. But even if you point out you have no expectations, the other person probably does.
@Judi Not old fashioned at all. But when they come secure in the relationship is when all their flaws start popping out. And yes no one is perfect including me.

So thank you for talking me through this. I think I have a clearer idea where my fears and what my options are. Getting back on the dating horse, blugh….

wundayatta's avatar

@rosehips There are other ways to meet people and get in relationships besides dating. I’ve never dated and yet I’ve probably fallen in love more times than anyone here. You’re creative and smart. I know you can think of alternatives. There are ways to meet people with integrity, and in my mind, that’s the only way you have a chance of getting what you really want. That is, you are meeting with integrity, not necessarily that the people have integrity. Damn. It’s so hard to figure out how to say this.

mallei's avatar

Just speak honestly regarding how you feel and react as yourself to ongoing conversation. Your past and your baggage” will be reflected in who you are right now. Don’t hide anything, but don’t dwell on or try to anayze your past.

ucme's avatar

@rosehips You couldn’t pick me up baby, don’t touch want you can’t afford!

Unbroken's avatar

@wundayatta I need to get new activities for that… What do you recommend… Church ; )

@mallei You speak well. Honesty is a very a good trait. Helps if it is returned.

@ucme I wouldn’t be so sure.It’s been awhile but the last time I deadlifted I could do 230.. Since I am still active in other ways I think I could be up to the challenge.. Though I am not sure why I’d want to. Price has nothing to do it.

wundayatta's avatar

Personally, dancing has worked well for me. So did work. So did friends of friends. It all started off in college. It seems like these days, online works. Match.com is telling us one-fifth of all relationships start online.

And yes, even church. Although I’d go to a synagogue or a Buddhist Temple if I were going to look for someone compatible. Also the Unitarians. None of them require a belief in God, so I’d be cool.

And while we’re at it, I think support groups would be a good place to look. You’d get to know people slowly and you know they’d understand your issues. I think a feminist group would be great. Like I mentioned elsewhere, I worked for one, and I have to say that was the peak time of my life for lovers, most of whom came through my workplace. This was after we stopped working on the ERA (since it lost), and started working on other issues.

I’ve found there are a lot of special people in the world. So many to fall in love with. I wish I could love them all, but that isn’t possible. Still, I really admire them and feel love for them and would do whatever I could for them, as they would for me, simply because we like being around each other. It’s fun. Elucidating.

When I was young, love seemed so hard, but even then, I think if I had known how much harder it was for others, I would have felt better about who I was. I’ve been lucky even if I didn’t always appreciate it. Although I also feel like there’s always room for more love.

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