Back in 2010, Jerry Springer hosted a popular dating game show called “Baggage.”As the name implies, contestants featured would reveal their inner-most secrets, unresolved issues, demons, and even quirky habits for the opportunity to find a compatible mate and win a date.
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Not only was the show entertaining, it was enlightening. The premise behind it? That airing our “dirty laundry” and providing full disclosure fosters relationships that are based on honesty, acceptance and trust. For example, one man confessed that he cheated on a former mate, while another adventurous soul ‘fessed up that she was deathly afraid of the dark. Secrets shared ranged from the size of an overnight bag to an oversized trunk.
Clever concept for a game show. But is it really wise for relationships? Let’s face it: we’ve all got baggage. It may vary in size, style, and content, but we’re all “carrying” something from our past that could potentially impact future relationships. Which begs the question…When should we “unpack” our things and reveal what we’re holding? You know: the failed business ventures, the fear of abandonment, the bad credit, the “crazy uncle“, the medical challenges, the emotional scars that have yet to heal from childhood. Though each situation is unique, and should be evaluated accordingly, here are some general guidelines.
There’s great truth to the expression, “Timing is everything.” Sharing too much too soon can make you seem desperate or turn off the individual you‘re dating. Not to mention, you make yourself vulnerable for the information to be shared without your consent, (violating your privacy), if the person with whom you’re sharing has not yet earned your trust. Better to go slow and unfold like a good mystery novel, in layers.
Equally important in determining what to reveal is your motive.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Are you trying to become closer?
- Trying to rid yourself of past guilt and seeking empathy or forgiveness?
- Attempting to assess how much the person really cares for you?
- Are you doing it for them or for you?
- Does this person really have a right to know?
- Is it worth the potential risk of losing a partner?
Just like medicine administered in excess can be detrimental, so can a heavy “dose” of the truth.
Here’s a case in point. In a previous episode of the hit reality show, the Bachelor, one woman revealed after being on the show for a very brief time, that she was ready to have babies right away and that her biological clock was ticking. That was a classic case of too much too soon.
It’s no surprise that she was eliminated from the running shortly after. The reason? The Bachelor felt intimidated and pressured. So proceed with caution. For proper “baggage handling,” share on a need-to-know basis, until you’re both serious and you’re both sure you can handle the weight of the truth.