You're in the airport and you're about to fly for the first time with a prestigious airline. You check your luggage in at the counter. With passport, boarding pass and carry-on in hand, you go through security, you walk through the metal detector knowing you might also be frisked. It's then time to hang out in the departure lounge and maybe browse the duty-free shops.
You find your departure gate and you board the aircraft first because you're travelling first class. Buckling up for lift-off, you soar to new heights. Levelling off, you bask in the ambience because you love being in the air. You get to your destination and the plane lands safely. Through the terminal into the foreign airport, and on to baggage claim.
We go through a similar process within a relationship. Who doesn't love that cloud-nine feeling you get once you embark on a new journey? You book that one-way ticket to a good relationship, getting to know your significant other, all the while hoping that you get security clearance for take-off.
Luggage is a natural part of the process, everyone packs what they think they will need for a long-term expedition into love, but how much do you go about dealing with the baggage involved?
Which ones do you claim or abandon at the carousel, declaring them toxic to your new union, and how do you execute it so that all parties involved are left happy?
Let's first examine the types of luggage packed into most relationships: family, friends, work or associates and ex-lovers.
Some families are very close-knit and it is almost mission impossible to get them out of your love life. If your family points out something you are yet to see, chances are they could have X-ray vision and you may be blinded by love.
Take that advice, however, with a grain of salt because they may be the ones, in fact are blind, not knowing what's really best for you.
Address both sides and state clear intentions for both, and strike a workable balance between the two. Your heart is big enough to accommodate both.
On the flip side, if you find that your new partner is close with his family, then use that to your advantage and turn that seemingly heavy baggage into necessary light, carry-on luggage. Get to know the people dear to their hearts and show them that you have only honourable intentions. This is only of course if you are serious about the relationship. It will be a bumpy ride, but be consistent and persistent without being overbearing. Just think, if the movie Monster-in-Law could have a happy ending, then so can you.
Friends are great to have, especially if they can impart knowledge beyond your scope of reasoning. Get to know your partner's friends so you can figure out who is who. You never know who is in your corner or who is out to snatch your partner if you leave yourself in the dark.
And while it's wonderful to have mutual friends (you hit the jackpot if you have coupled friends), it's OK to have platonic friends outside of your inner circle. And be clear that the friendship you share is strictly platonic. Girls' or boys' night out can be a healthy way of getting and giving some space and catching up with old friends. Work out a schedule that is suitable for both and you will be surprised at the outcome.
Friends of the opposite sex who seem too close may pose absolutely no threat at all because of the 'just friends' status that they hold. Give them the benefit of meeting up and knowing them before you judge.
Always be alert and keep on your toes and be that metal detector because you never know when their relationship might change from innocent encounters to guilty pleasures.
Busy with work
Some of us are familiar with the line, "Oh honey, I won't be home early, I have to work late." That might be a red flag because your partner may have other plans, may be leading double lives, or it may very well mean that he or she literally has to work late.
Now what do you do here? Try to get involved in their work. By that I mean ask questions and offer suggestions as to the way forward, even in technique. A block may have presented itself earlier and, you never know, in doing that you might have become his or her muse.
If that doesn't work, it's always best to check in with a text every now and then to remind them that you are thinking about them and you can't wait for their arrival. This is also a great way to lure them home with pictures (use your imagination and keep it spicy *wink wink*).
Associates are a different story. They may be up to no good, but this is where trust comes in. You know what they say, you can carry a horse to the water but you can't force him to drink it. No one can truly make your partner cheat unless he or she truly wants to. Again, keep a safe distance but make your presence known by checking in.
Now this is sticky. If you have had sexual relations with this person, it will be extremely difficult to ask the love of your life to accept them as necessary baggage.
If you find that they will want to pose a threat to your relationship, see how best you can minimise contact, or leave that baggage behind all together. After all, they were once in that position and I am sure they would not have liked external factors affecting the internal connection you both share.
If the past is truly the past and you are just friends, then the only way you can fly with that luggage is to 'check them' into your relationship. Let them know your partner, who should be willing to meet them, because this can sometimes reduce any possible tension that might exist.
It's always important to empty your luggage of any excess before you go the distance, because you never know what you will detect.
Sometimes you can get away with carrying things across the border without paying the hefty price with the right approach. And on the other side of the coin, maybe what you see as baggage has been luggage all along.