In my five year experience with *real* dating—sorry freshman year relationships that lasted a few months—is that, you really need to be open with your partner.
I have some "baggage" as people like to call it that, while I have grown from the situations and am over them, I still carry them with me because they are apart of my life. I don't let them eat away at me day by day. But I will have my days where I'm going to be struck with emotions. When those days come, I always want my partner to be prepared.
So I told my now boyfriend, every little piece of my "baggage" on our first date.
Yes, all the bad stuff that most people probably don't want to talk about? I did on the first date.
I learned that if someone seriously wants to be with me, and for the long run, they should know my past. So I gave it to him on a silver platter. I looked him in the eyes and said I want to talk to you about something serious. After agreeing, I advised him that I had never taken this approach before, that I knew it was really early to bring all of this up, but that I felt it was necessary for him to know before we take the relationship further.
While most people who I've shared these experiences with, it was later in our relationship, their reactions were generally the same. Awkward, didn't know what to say or how to act. It mostly led to a few awkward encounters after that, but nothing further.
This time was different.
He held me after I was done saying every detail and told me "I knew you were strong, but I didn't know you were this
strong." No words have hit me like those did. He looked me in my tear stained eyes and said that he was so glad I felt comfortable enough to share that with him so soon. That, he's glad he knows those pieces of me because they are what shaped me into who I am today.
Is my "baggage" rough? Absolutely. Are there days where the memories flood over me and I can't help but let the tears fall? Of course. I'm a human and not every day is going to be perfect. But, sharing that with him, warning him in a way, gave him the opportunity to know how to handle it when those days did come.
So, my "baggage" actually landed me the second date. And not only the second date, but almost a year's worth of dates.
If you want to find that one person, the one you want to share your life with, you need to share the past too. If you share it with them and they can't handle it? That's their loss and your gain. You're onto the next potential candidate. One that will love you for all of you, just like mine does for me.