Unclaimed Baggage

Something that has become very apparent to me over the last 3-4 years is that age is not indicative of maturity.  I’m moving into my late thirties and while I am committed to dating, it continues to be a challenging process.  I think that most of that challenge revolves around the intertwining of two lives that are well lived.  By sheer virtue of time, most people between the ages of 30-50 years old have probably experienced a fair amount of heartbreak, trauma, and disappointment.  These adverse moments in life carry with them their baggage.

Every body has their ‘stuff’.  Childhood traumas…  Significant others that cheated or left suddenly… Dysfunctional families of origin that don’t know how to communicate…  Stuff… everybody has it.  The problem comes when we don’t claim it, begin to work through it, and grow from it.

One advantage of spending so much time observing the behavior patterns of people and digging into the psychology of why we behave the way we do, is you become a good conversationalist and you connect dots well.  I find people’s stories fascinating and I seem to have a welcoming presence that makes people feel safe to tell me things.  These attributes have made it where I don’t trust the first date I have with a woman.  Why?  If a woman is willing to talk at all, it usually makes for a good long conversation on the first encounter.  No surprise, small talk is hard for me.  Sports, new restaurants, vacations etc. just aren’t interesting to me.  People are interesting to me.  If we can’t go deep, I’ll lose interest pretty fast.  This may be at the heart of my persistent singleness but it’s hard to fake interest in things I feel are of little consequence.

Sometimes we can see blatantly when someone exhibits a damaging pattern of behavior that comes from some painful event in their past.  What’s more frustrating is when that individual can acknowledge the event but refuses to examine the patterns that came out of it.  I have been in proximity with people who trivialize their own painful past and insist on staying locked in shallow conversations as if ignorance will make the pain go away.  Willful ignorance because it’s too painful to face the ugliness of our lives sometimes.  It’s too painful to let our current story collapse in the birth of a new story that is both more accurate and more useful in facilitating deep connections with others.  But, isn’t that what we want in relationships?

So… I have this amazing human being sitting in front of me, but, I know that a relationship with this person is going to be frustrating.  Our conversations will remain on the surface because deep conversations threaten to go near that person’s unclaimed baggage.  They don’t want to do that and I can’t make them.  It actually has the affect of making me feel more lonely when I’m with that person and isn’t that the opposite of what dating/relationships are supposed to do?

What’s interesting to observe is the fact that women and men in their 30’s and older can seem incredibly shallow due to the fact that they won’t engage in deeper topics.  I know people in their late teens and early 20’s who have all the courage in the world to face hard things about themselves.  Maybe age causes people to think they have to hide from their ‘stuff’ because it upsets the ideal picture of life they had in their head when they were younger.  Those Damn Expectations!  Age is not indicative of maturity and unclaimed baggage can make the most physically attractive person merely a facade… I’ll wait for a person who has claimed their ‘stuff’.


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