How to date when your baggage seems heavier than others

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Lane 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #816775 Reply


    Hello all,
    To make it short and to the point, I’m 30 and my mom has had a mental sickness since I’m a very young kid, of which I barely know anything because my father decided it would be better for me not to know much (and similarly I discovered he even did not try to understand what she had). They divorced at the time. I have always known my mom as under medication, with weight issues, can’t work, living under subsidies and in a quite bad area (for the low rent). My dad on the other side, is someone very negative, anxious who hardly ever kept a job and was the one to say he would not take a job that is less than what he thinks he deserved. He eventually made his life with someone becoming a bit dependent on and which he had problems then to escape from, still had a child together….

    But don’t take me wrong, I still love my parents, we still have a good relationship and see each other once in a while. But I have never been supported financially more than getting food at home. I did manage really long studies and a great job. Yet I’m only 30, and most of it did by myself.

    Family dinner outside for me doesn’t exist. It is me going out with my father and his son, and paying for the three of us. But in my environment, all children even if they are still 30, are still children to their parents. For me it has been mostly the opposite.

    So when I want to date someone, I find extremely hard, cause I can hardly dissociate my family and story from myself, yet it is part of myself. I never had a boyfriend. I am really afraid my past would make me look darker, although I did not choose my story. It stays part of me.

    I probably have a new date this weekend, we have been chattingand it’s really nice. I already mentioned to him a divorce, that my mother is sick (it could be also a physical sickness), without more details, he said i don’t have to say everything directly, but we both judge it important to be open.

    But again he is part of the “family that goes out”, i saw pictures of his nice siblings and even just told me that he is going out for dinner with his family tonight. I try to stay positive but I feel like I ‘m constantly drawn to hiding things. I don’t ever go for family dinner.

    I basically made it to a level of society where I think problems are less, I’m just a lovely girl who’s trying to find love, but I’m being prone to being secretive because i think my story is not very healthy. Nor they are parents that you can simply visit “oh we are going to visit my parents and be hosted there”

    How to date in these circumstances, advices?? If someone recognizes himself/herself in my story, could you share how you deal with it?

    I think I would be much less stressed if I could just do like “them”, the people around me, and talk of my parents and their house and their job, without feeling like I do every day. Or being afraid to be judged because someone may think I may turn up like my mom…

    Thanks for all positive advice in advance :)))

    #816778 Reply


    I think you need to try getting out of this mindset that you have more baggage than others. You don’t really. Most people are messed up one way or the other.

    And no you won’t be able (or shouldn’t) detach yourself from your family in the long run. They are part of your story and part of who you are. But that is in the long run. When you first start seeing someone try to focus on yourself and letting him getting to know you.

    Once you find someone you are compatible with you can share more and I am sure he will be understanding. Always remember there is no perfect family and no person without baggage and a perfect life. We are all flawed.

    #816779 Reply


    @cupcake I completely agree, I am happy you say more people than I thought may have a baggage. (another thing to the baggage my dad just reached out to me to come and visit him but it’s always related to his son, because he has school holidays and wants to provide a family to him. While i feel neglected. But my dad is very “blind” to all those things and not someone you could talk to about his behavior)

    The only thing I see is that guys who are serious in my environment will quickly talk about meeting the parents of the other, or just simply ask about their jobs, where they live.. and I am very honest, so I would be forced to say the truth, but that’s also then having an impact on how I am seen.

    What could you recommend answering to all those questions about jobs/house/status of the parents? Bad boys don’t ask for details, good ones do. And I too rarely had this to know what to answer . On chat it’s easy, live.. is stressful.

    #816786 Reply


    The thing is any potential partner is interested in you as a person. He is dating you not your parents. I don’t think you need to lie or anything. Just be honest and say your family situation is complicated/difficult. You can even disclose some details but try to tell them in a “matter of fact” way and try not to dump too much emotional baggage onto someone you ve only just started to get to know.

    Put yourself in his shoes. If you dated someone and he told you his family/parents situation isnt ideal, would you think lesser of him? Would you be less likely to continue seeing him if you really liked him? Would you insist on meeting his parents? I doubt it

    You are (naturally) very emotionally affected by your parents behaviour, but i don’t think it looks as bad to someone who is on the outside. So i wouldn’t worry about what a potential partner will think about it. I do think that the whole situation has gotten you into a state of insecurity that will def. show with potential dates.

    If i were you i would maybe seek therapy to start dealing with your family situation. It clearly weighs heavily on your heart and mind and a professional might really be able to help you cope a little better and build up your sense of self and self confidence

    #816788 Reply


    Also really never forget that everyone has baggage. He is probably this moment worrying how he is going to tell you about his without sending you running…just saying

    #816790 Reply


    Thanks for the advice, and I’m glad you say that from the outside it seems okay. That’s what I worry about the most. My mom is so little “presentable” (to me, she looks ‘sick” and I can hardly get off that image, but it’s also probably true, as much as I love my mother and her positivity (the medication?) compared to my dad, who is healthy) that most of my family whether my dads or her own has taken her story as a ‘big drama” which added up to the fact I feel a lot of shame. Because as soon as there is an issue with her, they look for me.

    About your last message, this new guy told me after he asked me the same, that he has nothing to hide to anyone, but is just not someone who talks of him easily. So I take it as there is nothing special, and still he is a bit shy.
    While I hide these things to most people, and I would be less shy if I didn’t have things that are ‘different” to the standard.

    I am pretty sure he really knows nothing of the least not in a direct parental or sibling circle.

    #816791 Reply


    PS: I was told by a guy once that he had expectation for the family of his future girlfriend, that at least they should be able to provide financial help in case of problem. So some guys have expectations. Then one could say it’s not everyone, but it does not mean it’s not a majority?
    In my situation, it’s the opposite, I’m the money provider, but I am not sure who would help me if i lost my job.

    #816792 Reply


    You are projecting your insecurities. You have no idea what goes on in this guy’s life or environment. Stop putting yourself and your family down. Hardly any family is without their share of complications ( lack of a better word).

    But honestly to be me issue here isn’t dating per se but that you really seem to struggle to come to terms with your family situation. It clearly affects you greatly and hence you have built the situation up to be way more out of the norm than it actually is.

    Neither of your parent is a serial killer or genocidal dictator or anything like that. A lot of families have pathological issues. You can’t fix your parents but you can take action putting yourself in a better place to cope with it.

    Your mum struggling with mental illness and being unable to cope shouldn’t be a cause of shame for you. Feeling neglected by your dad will always hurt but shouldn’t keep you from living your life. Those are all issues a professional can help you with

    #816800 Reply


    Its time you divorce your family in an emotional tie kind of way. Everything you said was about your parents and none about you. Im really sorry but you clearly missed breaking away from your parents and become your own person. And its not even like you inherited your moms illness for instance. So stop thinking you have so much baggage. Yeah you probably have some like the rest of the world (like my mom was an alcoholic and my dad a sexaddict) but if youre sane, have a stable nature, can converse, hold a job you are the privileged kind really

    #816801 Reply


    Honey, your issue is you. You define yourself by this sad story. Until you don’t … this will be an issue. There are many people who suffered more with worse parents by a long shot. There is no reason why a man needs to know anything about any of this until long in a relationship.

    My mother is a narcissist and I do not engage with her much. I simply tell men the truth and show by my relationships that I am not the same.

    Until you choose to untangle yourself from this story… which is one of poor me, my parents are bad…. this will be an issue.

    #816802 Reply



    I live in a different country and none of the guys I dated met my parents as they do not live here. Some did ask about my parents some didn’t like you said bad guys don’t ask haha
    I would say you shouldn’t be worried about what they think of your family , you are not your parents, I know it can be difficult like you said having no financial support from them, but they are people in much worse situation, you said you have a good job , went to school etc.

    when someone ask about your parents just say it is too early to talk about it or say it is complicated and you’d rather talk about it another time

    #816848 Reply


    I agree with others in that the issue is not in your circumstances but in how you choose to see them (and decide that they are somehow bad or feel ashamed because of them). When I read your story I did not feel like ‘yuck i would not go near that person’ but more ‘ok, sounds realistic and lots of people have worse!’) All of us have baggage. I also have a lot of things to feel ashamed of from my past, not like yours but I could have made a long post of those here as well, similar to yours :) – and for me, therapy is really helping in untangling myself from these stories. You are not these stories from the past, and you choose what your focus should be on. You are lovable and deserve friendship and romantic connection and happiness. End of. Other stuff is just your ‘stuff’ – everyone has theirs! Please do not let these thoughts lead when you are out there chatting with guys x

    #828136 Reply


    Hi all,

    I’m back. I think that took a toll on me again.
    The date was extremely nice, and we dated for a while…

    I eventually rapidly told him what my mom’s sickness was, how sometimes few I saw my parents..he saw me alone at home when he got to visit his own family and despite the good dates we had, he became distant.
    Eventually, next to me seeing him a lot active on dating apps and letting him know, next to the rest, he rejected me without even letting place to actually a real conversation.
    I’m left a bit without answers. The only idea I got (indirectly) is that we had different interests and that I’m rather inactive in my life and non ambitious, while from the start I decided to be open about this and I’m actually super ambitious for the background I have. And only willing to be doing stuff with him…

    So today I’m sad, back to the point of thinking that my background is playing a role there. I feel misjudged.. and most of all the fact he ignored my tentative to set a date to talk about this means he is refusing me in his life whatsoever (even as a friend)

    It’s not the first time it happens and that hurts…

    #828171 Reply


    Clearly the advice we gave hasnt helped or got through you. This is not an easy fix for you. If you go through life believing you always draw the short end of the stick, moping how heavy that baggage is (and its still unclear how heavy that baggage is) Meanwhile neglecting areas where you can actually improve yourself (i mean how can this guy view you as low ambition while you feel you did great things at 30: thats a big gap in perspective), that negative outlook will come to the surface. And will put people off. You say youre very ambitious seeing your background. What does that mean? Im pretty sure youre a product of the total of your background and im also sure that your own brain can mend that and reshape. So for instance if youre not that smart, dont date geniusses. If youre not athletic, dont date jocks. If youre the product of working class trying to make it, dont date priveleged people. Date guys were you share some social similarities. But In this case, was it necessary to tell about your family and what was the context? Because it looks to me he faded because he felt you were not compatible (from what you wrote yourself). Thats totally legit and not a fullfillling proficy about your family. I do suggest you spend time on becoming a more positive person before you start to date again

    #828230 Reply


    He was not privileged. Just standard.
    “You say youre very ambitious seeing your background.” That I made it up to a social category that’s a bit above the ones of my parents. But that’s doesn’t mean they are priviledged either. Rather that my parents had it more difficult than average.

    “i mean how can this guy view you as low ambition while you feel you did great things at 30: thats a big gap in perspective”

    Because he only got to know a few things (a surface) while there’s so much more to it.

    ” But In this case, was it necessary to tell about your family and what was the context?”

    Because we spoke of everything, he showed me pictures of family etc, we were really open, and so it was kind of mandatory to go through this. This is part of me, after all. This defines me every day, despite how I want to build my own life from it, it will always be me.

    #828233 Reply


    But you are way overcomplicating this and picking on details instead of the big picture. Like i stated before my mom was an alcoholic and dad a sexaddict. Not pleasant to grow up with. But i went to university,’made friends and became an autonome person. Not totally autonome but i got friends i could relate to and vice versa and found my own style. Never ever did i feel my background was holding me back. And it never did. The alcoholic mom actually worked in my favour telling stories about it.
    From you i get the vibe youre no fun at all (and i could be wrong) because youre in your head and overconscious. Up ti a point where you want to adress to the guy you feel missjudged and want a retry. Thats not how it works. Thats why my best advice is to adopt a positive character and go with that.
    Just forget about this guy. It wasnt meant to be but there are guys who would totally get you. Just be in a mindframe to recognize it when they do

    #828247 Reply


    I think some counseling might help you break some of the mental tropes going on in your head. There has been some great advice here but you haven’t picked any of that up. I feel like you fulfill your own failures and want to hold it up to the world and say see? I told you so. Maybe some professional guidance will help steer you in a more positive assessment of your self, your background. Your story is not written in stone and you have the power to change it. I think you need a little help believing that though. :) Good luck.

    #828696 Reply


    I UNDERSTAND, I grew up in a similar environment, to me it seems you are letting your past dictate your present… let your past teach you life lessons that you will carry with you… your small brother needs the “family dinners ” you might never have had them give him an opportunity to have on. when you meet a boy and you like them, share your story but also share the lessons learnt… they could help you form boundaries in relationships. don’t allow the mistakes of your parents to bound you for life.

    #828734 Reply


    I agree with others in that it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What really matters is the person you and if they are good and decent person then the other stuff (aka baggage) is irrelevant as long as you keep it irrelevant and stand on your own two feet like you have done as the right man will fall in love with YOU, the person you are, not your family.

    My ex husband and current partner grew up with a lot of baggage. Both abused by alcoholic fathers that had other addictions too, such as gambling plus had a lot of external family baggage but that didn’t hold me back from falling in love with them as they were able to escape from it, both joined the military at a young age and became successful in their in their own right, just like you have.

    Stop with the negative thinking. Don’t extrapolate or talk about it with men you are just getting to know until you really get to know them well enough that you feel safe to start opening up and talking about it more in depth. My current partner sprang his on me a bit too soon, within a few months of dating and I freaked out a bit. It made me take a few steps back and watch him far more closely than I already was but overtime I was able to see that he’s his own person and doesn’t allow his family baggage to interfere with his life. What I did notice by watching him is that he’s developed really healthy boundaries with not only his family members but other people, nor have I ever seen him drunk so I was able to fall in love with him even though many of his family members are dysfunctional lol.

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