Let me start this off by saying that almost everyone has baggage; whether it be emotional, family related, or from a past relationship. With that said, what do you do when someone close to you tells you their baggage? When your significant other tells you about their past? How do you deal with it?
Firstly, I think it is critical to recognize the importance of this situation. If your significant other is telling you intimate things about their life; things that are difficult for them to open up about, then this means your relationship is getting pretty serious. Your partner obviously feels very committed to you and wants you to know not only the good in their life but also the bad that they have experienced. Thus, them telling you is a huge step in your relationship and should not be taken lightly.
Once you have recognized the significance of this situation, you have to understand how your partner is feeling. Opening up about sad or difficult times in your past is an extremely vulnerable and anxiety provoking thing to put yourself through. Therefore, your partner is probably feeling very scared and nervous to tell you about some of their secrets. When you realize how much your partner is going through to open themselves up to you, you will then understand that having your support and understanding throughout this process will help put your partner more at ease.
At this point, you have both recognized the situation and accounted for your partner’s feelings. But what about you? This is where things become a little less straight forward because it all depends on what your partner is telling you and whether or not you can relate to what they are saying. In the event that your partner has experienced things similar to what you have experienced, you will naturally know how to deal with what you are being told since you have gone through it yourself. In this situation, having empathy and reassuring your partner that you understand and will be there for them would be one effective way to handle the situation.
On the other hand, what if your partner tells you something that you cannot relate to? In those situations, I believe it is important to stay true to how you feel. It is okay to feel overwhelmed or sad or confused with the news you are hearing since this is the first time you are exposed to this information about your partner. I truly believe honesty is the best policy so you should not pretend you are okay with everything you are being told if you really aren’t. There is no set amount of time it will take you to process what your partner is telling you. Thus, react as honestly as you can and take your time to go through the different things you are feeling.
At this point, if you partner is comfortable, I believe asking them questions to help you process what they are telling you could be beneficial if you are someone seeking clarity. If you cannot ask questions, doing some research on your own time can also be a beneficial way to better understand your partner. While you are in this process of understanding, do not forget to go through this with your partner. You cannot forget to involve them because they were the ones who opened up to you in the first place. Reaching a better understanding of each other while you go through this process will definitely make you a stronger couple in the end.
To conclude, telling your partner your baggage is an extremely difficult and scary thing to do because you never know how your partner is going to react to a part of you that maybe they never knew. Thus, it is important for the sharer to be as open and honest as they can be. On the receiving end, honesty is also the best policy. Be true to what you are feeling and make sure you keep your partner in mind while you process what they are telling you. No matter how you feel after they have told you their baggage, know that they trusted you with that information because they love you and that puts the responsibility in your hands now.
They trusted you with this information and thus you must do your part in ensuring that the accepting and taking care of this information is done as smoothly and lovingly as possible. Dealing with your partner’s baggage is hard, but if you truly love them and want to make it work, you will find a way to use this new found information on your partner as a way to enhance your relationship, rather than hurt it.