The Perfect Catch
Managing emotional baggage:  Does yours fill a U-Haul truck?
My coaching has been deeply influenced by my own period of online dating. I think of that time as a "challenging and wonderful discovery point" in my life. Not only did I become an expert at online dating back then, I figured out how to have fun while doing it. And it led me to meet and marry my husband.
Dating and relationship coach Christine Baumgartner has helped hundreds of individuals and couples successfully through their dating and relationship processes. She is an expert at listening to who you are and then using that knowledge to help you explore your dating and relationship needs.
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I frequently hear from clients and friends, " I don't want to date anyone who has baggage."
Their statement is often about dating people who have emotional stuff from past relationships. But they might also be using the word "baggage" to refer to something like financial problems, physical ailments, or people with children.
I understand the sentiment behind this request... however, I just have to say, "That's impossible."
In this article, I'd like to focus on the emotional type of baggage.
If you're more than, oh say, 10 years old, you've probably started accumulating at least some emotional baggage. And the more years you're past 10, the more baggage you can accumulate. It comes from things that happened to you in your family, school, relationships, career - the possibilities are endless.
Here's what I've found for me personally and for my coaching clients - when we experience an unpleasant or uncomfortable situation in our lives we tend to stuff it down (we say to ourselves it really doesn't matter that much or it's too big right now so I'll deal with it later when it's smaller).
When we stuff it down, it becomes "emotional baggage."
At first - after my divorce, and when I started to date again - all I could see was the baggage my dates had. My girlfriends would ask me what I thought of the latest man I was dating, and I'd say, "He's nice and I wouldn't marry him."
It took me a few years to realize how little the reason I wouldn't marry him had to do with his baggage, and how much it had to do my own baggage I'd stored up over the years.
When I finally got an honest look at the amount of baggage I had, it truly could have filled a large U-Haul truck. What a startling discovery! A large U-Haul truck can hold the contents of a three-bedroom house!
So my first reaction was, "Oh crap! What does it say about me that I have so much baggage? How will I ever go through all of it? Does this mean I'll never meet a man I want to marry?"
After a while I started realizing how my own emotional baggage was causing me to attract the wrong type of men. I learned that, if I "cleaned the baggage up", I was more likely to attract the right man for me.
So, what I did (because I love visuals) is I bravely opened that U-Haul truck and took out one box. I imagined the contents of that box as old clothes that I had stored away, putting them aside to open another day.
Eventually, I found myself ready to open this box I'd unloaded. I might have been having a particularly good day (which made me feel equipped for the task). Or, it might have been one of those days where I was tired of the same thing happening over and over - and I really wanted to do something differently in my life.
So... symbolically... I opened the box. Staying with my clothing imagery, I started removing items from the box and trying them on. I knew I needed to decide which ones I'd keep, which ones I'd alter, and which ones I'd give away.
I knew I would need to sit with the feelings that each item of clothing would bring up.
And believe me, these beliefs and feelings were the kind that probably got their start long before I was age 10!
For example, the first dress represented my belief that no man would ever want to date me. I had left my marriage believing this was the truth. I sat there and asked myself, " Does this fit my life now?" I'd spent a lot of my life believing I was unlovable, so believing no man would want to date me fit this belief exactly. 
At this point, I'd been dating for about six months and had found plenty of  men who were interested in taking me out. It didn't take me long to realize that this belief didn't "fit" who I was any longer. So, in my imagination, I put that dress in the "giveaway box".
The second dress I tried on was the belief that I didn't know how to flirt. However, it turned out that I was very good at flirting and had been able to do it all along - I just hadn't known it until now. So, I had this dress "altered". I didn't want to give this part of me away - and I was certainly able to alter my belief.
You can imagine with a large U-Haul truck it took a while to go through all the boxes. Some therapy, some classes, some reading, some crying (well maybe a lot of crying), and many conversations with friends - and I finally got my personal baggage to a size that would "fit in an overhead bin on an airplane".
I figured this was a reasonable amount baggage, and that I'd certainly be open to accepting the same amount from a man.
I found the way I looked at men and dating changed while I was going through my baggage. I also found as I examined each of my old belief dresses and made a decision about keeping, altering, or giving them away - that the type of men I was dating were turning into better matches for me. And this ultimately led me to meet and marry my husband.
What size is your baggage? Do you think its contents are holding you back from meeting the right person for you (like it was for me)? If your answer is yes then let's talk... send me an email. I'd love to hear from you! 
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