An inevitable part of any dating career is dealing with baggage. We all have our hang-ups and shoulder-chips; there’s no denying it, but dealing with another person’s baggage can be difficult indeed, especially when they dump it on you at an unexpected moment. Sometimes that baggage is heavy; a veritable baggage bomb.
We’re talking revelations like “my ex tried to kill me” or “I used to be an alcoholic”. Heavy stuff that the bomb-dropper is really hoping won’t make you run a mile. Disarming said bomb can make or break a potential relationship, so here are a few things to bear in mind if the apple of your eye proves to have a worm inside.
Your reaction is key, so a crazily emotional response isn’t going to do you any favours. Don’t gasp, condemn, judge or get exasperated. Definitely don’t judge. Responses like that are just going to make them regret they ever confided in you. Keep your composure and remember that they’re hoping they can trust you enough to share this kind of information. Honour that trust and if at all possible, be supportive.
Don’t change the subject or act visibly uncomfortable. If you start fidgeting or fixating on the weather right after your sweetheart tells you they had an abusive childhood, you’ll give the impression that you’re either not interested in something that’s obviously meaningful to them, or terrified by it. Sure, there are some bits of info that you’d rather un-hear. Some moments of sharing can even be deal breakers; no one is encouraged when they hear that their date’s last breakup left them jaded and with a crippling fear of commitment. What’s important is that you don’t come across as incapable of dealing with a little drama. Besides, you’d rather find out that kind of info sooner rather than later.
Be comforting if you can, but don’t feel obliged to baggage bomb right back. It goes without saying that a supportive attitude is best when your date feels he can share with you. Even if you’d far rather not hear about how screwed up his last relationship was, a sympathetic smile and a kind word or two can immediately take the tension out of the air. If you really don’t know what to say, a good response is simply “I’m sorry. That must have been really hard for you.” You also don’t need to feel obligated to offload your own baggage right then and there. Comfort levels vary from person to person, so even if it looks like they’re expecting you to share a traumatic experience from your past you’re not required to do so.
Whilst revelations like this can often be shocking, uncomfortable or a total turn off, it’s always best to be supportive and non-judgmental. If the baggage bomb proved to be too hot to handle, you can always exit gracefully and start looking elsewhere. If however, your date’s sharing made you feel closer to them than before, that’s fantastic, and your support will definitely bring them closer to you.
Comments will be approved before showing up.