Allow me to ramble a bit about relationship baggage, dating, and why it never gets easier.
I remember the good old days of dating. I was 19, open to meeting anyone for any reason, no expectations, and most of all, no baggage.
As life changes though, I found myself start adding more options to the dating profile.
- Wants kids and marriage.
- Has children.
- Wants marriage, maybe more children.
- Has Crohn’s Disease.
- Maybe wants marriage, but no more children.
- Doesn’t want marriage or children.
- In a relationship.
- In 4 relationships.
- Wants something between living together and marriage, but no children.
- HSV2 positive.
- Wants anyone who isn’t afraid to touch me.
And on the other end, my tastes have narrowed. I feel a lot more judgmental about how other people come across. Am I still into BBW? Am I still into lots of sex? Am I still into “adventurous” people, or do I want to relax more.
And as I add my own baggage, I open my messages from people who find ways to contact me, either by finding my blog, my FB page, my Twitter, or even track me down on dating apps after reading my book.
And they ask questions like “How do I find polyamorous people to date?”
I dunno, how am I supposed date with herpes?
With each change in my life, I find each preceding change to be trivial.
I used to have the hardest time dating straight, monogamous women when I decided to put “bisexual” in my profile. FYI, that doesn’t work well for 21 year old manly man dudes living in the Midwest.
I didn’t even admit it to wife #2 until almost 9 months into our relationship, because of one comment she made the first night I met her about how she just never wanted to run into one of those perverts, like a bisexual.
I’ll admit, I promptly shut up, because in monogamy, it wasn’t her business anyways.
Now, something like my bisexuality feels trivial because my baggage kept getting heavier.
And that’s life, building up baggage.
Don’t worry, this isn’t some frou-frou article about how you decide what baggage to carry, and what to put down, and not taking emotional pain with you.
Most baggage can’t or won’t be put down. My son, for instance, isn’t going away. And neither are my ex wives or my herpes. There are no cutesy inspirational messages about how you can just “let it go” or “it all get’s better if you just hang in there”.
But I’ve also noticed a trend. While I’ve been more judgmental about what I want, I’ve been less judgmental about other people’s baggage.
If someone told me at 19 that they had a very major mental disorder, I’d have thought twice. I now only give it some slight consideration. I’ve dated many wonderful people with mental disorders.
I also have relaxed on being the uptight asshole who wouldn’t touch those “420 friendly” people. I didn’t wanna hang with, or be, a lazy stoner.
Then I grew up, and realized that my idea of that particular person was because I knew over the top stoners in high school, and that caricature created a bias with me that lasted for a very long time.
With Crohn’s cramps that feel like a hot butter knife slowly disemboweling me, and herpes outbreaks that can put me in bed for a week straight, and with both now happening at the same time… and having lost almost 20 pounds this year due to being unable to eat… I’m quite 420 friendly myself, in measured doses, 3 times a day.
Having incurable pain on the level of cancer will change your attitude real damn quick on drug use and drug users. And I watched my dad consumed in his 70’s by opioids to manage back, leg, and shingles. So I think my choice is a hell of a lot less dangerous. You ever seen a 70 year old man go through an opioid withdraw in the hospital after surgery to correct a brain aneurysm?
So while I used to be a baggage free dater, and could get a date in under 5 minutes notice for just about any day of the week, I’m not that man anymore.
Today, I’m lucky to get a quality date. I realize how each and every date is very fortunate.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t made small changes in my favor. Without shoes on, I’m 5'10". That’s 1" above the average American male height of 5'9". I should be happy, right?
Nope, I wear shoes like a normal civilized person. And I usually wear boots. So when you meet me, I’m 6'0". So now now put I’m 6'0".
For those of you who think that’s cheating, I’ll be happy to put my real height when all women stop wearing makeup and high heels, and all dating profiles pics are random “just woke up” shots with stark bathroom lighting.
I also have changed how I date.
On the first 100 or so partners, I had sex on the first date with all, and I mean all, but 2 people. But as I neared real adulthood, which I now think of as the age 30, I stopped doing that for the most part. And for the past year, I don’t do it at all.
While I’m a highly sexual person, but seriously, they’re not all worth it. They’re REALLY not all worth it. It started to feel as though I were allowing people to use me as a cheap toy. More and more, I felt less respected as a person.
Being young, the sex drive was able to overcome the hit to my self esteem.
Today, nothing is worth taking a hit to my self esteem. If I can’t get a second date without my skills in bed, then fuck ‘em, they weren’t worth a piece of my soul.
I’m also a guy with his heart on his sleeve and used to fall hard for people fast. I could be “in love” at the drop of a hat. That was me at 20.
I still see people who are passing middle age doing this strange thing. They’re together less than a week, and their world suddenly revolves around this other person. I’m watching someone do this right now.
Easy killer, I’m not even thinking about the L word for the first 6 months.
Changing the way I dated also changed how I dated. I used to be a big advocate of disclosure up front because of the sex. I still believe that.
If you are going to sleep with someone, they need to know a few things up front. If you aren’t monogamous and have a partner, that needs disclosed on line 1 of your profile if you plan on sex on the first date.
If you have an STI, that needs disclosed on line 1 of your dating profile if you plan on taking your pants off on the first date.
Now, I put some basics at the bottom, and I don’t disclose everything until the first date. This allows me to do it in person with circumstances.
And I only do that if I know I want a second date.
Sex, for me, is a third or fourth date option now.
Some people believe in truth in advertising. But I believe in advertising. If I have a nice dinner with someone that doesn’t work out, I don’t need to go into how I’m very anti-religious for instance. I’ll go on a date with a Christian who isn’t ultra-devote, for instance.
I make it clear, the first date is just to have good conversation and see if anything is there. That’s the time for disclosure for me.
And because I now reject anything more than friends for 80% of people, I find I get to go out and pay for dinner, movie, walk in the park with someone interesting without them judging me based on a profile.
Is that not “playing by the rules”, or “getting their expectations up”? Trust me, there’s plenty of shit to get disappointed with on a first date. I’ve met people who can write very well, but are obnoxious in person. I’ve met people who didn’t seem like they bathed, but who’s profiles looked professional and eloquent.
If they don’t like the disclosure I give on the first date, well… shrug. I didn’t waste their time unless they are in a rush for marriage with Mr. Perfect, and good f***ing luck to them finding that in a profile.
Certain things are disclosed at certain times. I don’t disclose that I have a tiny scar on my chin which led me to having a goatee and then a full beard.
I don’t disclose that the reason I shave my head is that my hair line started receding at the age of 13.
I don’t disclose that I’ve been divorced twice until the conversation gets to why I take it slow in relationships now.
I do make it clear that I’m not into monogamy, or marriage. I do set some ground rules. And I do read profiles more carefully.
So what about the herpes? I disclose that during the talk about STI testing. A vast majority of people don’t know they have it. If they want sex with me, I want test results that includes a herpes test, which is NOT standard.
So, if we’re not having sex until testing, my disclosure in my profile is quite unnecessary. 20–40% of the population has herpes (depending on population segment tested) and 80–90% don’t know they have it.
In that conversation, I can explain that. Because A) they’re willing to a fresh test to see what’s really going on, B) they already know they have it too, or C) nothing.
If someone isn’t willing to test, I’m not willing to have sex. And they go in knowing that they could come back completely negative, but sex will still be off the table for us… which is true regardless of who you date.
But I still get to enjoy the Gen Tso’s Chicken and intelligent conversation, and maybe I made a friend. If they are Asexual, then it turns out to be a non-issue, and we can cuddle to our hearts’ content.
And if they don’t like my policy, again, 80–90% of people don’t know. And statistically, they’re safer with me than with someone who doesn’t know.
In a future article, I’m going to talk about what the ethical window is to disclose certain things which can be deal breakers in a relationship. We’ll also define being positive versus being a catfish.
Until then, I’ll not dump my baggage immediately on everyone, and I’ll remain 6'0" until they can talk me out of my boots… next to the bed.