We all have our own baggage — skeletons, if you will — and navigating these imperfections in the tricky waters of dating is tough. Take me, for example. I have emotional scars from the abortion I wish I wouldn't have had (but sometimes am very glad I did have) a few years ago. I have anxiety now and again, and am prescribed medicine to take when I need to just chill out.
My family life is not perfect. I'm 27, and although I have a full-time career that I love, I struggle with money and keeping myself afloat. So, do I spill these closet skeletal beans to him on the first date? Do I lay it all out on the table? Or do I feed it to him slowly, bite by bite, letting him in on another "not so pretty" fact about my life during each new Netflix and chill session?
Or do I avoid it altogether? Do I wait until we have gotten passed the awkward "getting to know each other" phase to confide in him my innermost demons?
Well, my lovelies, I can tell you from experience there is no right answer to this. But there are some guidelines I believe can help answer this question:
1. Honesty is the best policy.
We've all heard this one before. This doesn't mean you have to say, "Hi, my name is Lynzie, and I had an abortion," the second you meet someone.
What it means is, if these deeper topics come up in conversation, whether it's the first date, or two months into the relationship, be honest. You never know what this thing you have will turn into. And if it does turn into something, you will regret not telling the truth when he asked you the first time. Trust me.
2. We all have baggage.
Believe it or not, your date has baggage, too. And maybe it's just as heavy as yours. I asked several men about this while writing this article, and their responses were all the same: They have baggage.
They have issues they're afraid of putting on the table, just like us. So rather than being hard on yourself and assuming you have more baggage than him, think of yourself as equals. We all have our own problems. And who knows, he might even have more skeletons in his closet than you do.
3. Don't judge.
Would you want him to judge you for your past? Would you want him to judge you on current issues you're going through? No, you wouldn't.
So when he finally opens up to you, whether its after you've told him your innermost secrets, or out of the clear blue sky, be understanding and compassionate. Because in reality, we are all just trying to make it through this life and deal with our own problems in the best way we know how.
Being judged, or judging someone else, just complicates things and hurts your partner, and eventually yourself. When you're transparent with others, nine times out of 10 they're transparent right back with you. This I have learned from experience, and it has been proven to me time and time again. So, listen, be patient and be kind. Because one day, you will be telling him (or someone new) your own problems, and you'll want to feel acceptance, understanding and compassion.
There is a quote I heard recently that says, "If we all put our problems into a big pile, once we saw everyone else's, we would take ours back." I believe this is true. We all have skeletons in our closets. You have them, and so do I. He has them, and so does she. It's the way we handle these issues — the way we move forward with our dignity in tact and our hearts not jaded, the way we respond to others when they share their darkest secrets with us — that really define how we handle our skeletons.
In a world full of people who are quick to judge, and are dishonest about their own past in the spirit of "being more attractive," be the person who is compassionate, honest and caring, despite what you have been through. Let your skeletons make you more beautiful and compassionate, rather than cold and judgmental. Because in reality, is it not what we have in our closet that dresses us each day?