How heavy is your baggage? 

Dr. Fred R. Lybrand

by Audra Jennings Friday, October 01, 2010
Have you seen the commercials for Jerry Springer’s new show on the Game Show Network? Maybe you’ve even stopped by to see what it is all about. Springer’s new show is called, “Baggage.” The show starts like the “Dating Game” of the 1960’s in that one “dater” chooses between three contestants as potential dates. Instead of answering questions, each contestant reveals three secrets or hidden flaws that usually aren’t talked about on a first date; each revelation is bigger than the one before. The idea is that everyone brings “baggage” into a relationship, and some secrets are just too big to overlook.

I have to admit, it is actually pretty interesting to see contestants work on a decision to go on a first date as they learn a few secret flaws in one another. I also confess I haven’t been much of a fan of Springer in the past, and I don’t know that “Baggage” will win me over. I’ve always thought we should have a bumper sticker based on Springer’s original show. The sticker would simply say, “Dysfunction is not a competition.”

In keeping with his game, we have a new form of dysfunction-is-competition from Mr. Springer. But first, on the good side, Jerry always tries to bring some moral lesson to light in terms of tolerance, forgiveness, and remembering we are all flawed humans. I honestly think he believes what he’s saying, but his delivery system for the message is pretty much just entertainment with a generous portion of hype.

The Point is Good

The point of telling the truth and learning the awful secrets we all (supposedly) have is right on. Surely we should all do “due diligence” to find out what kind of person we are moving toward building a life with. Surprises are great when they are good, but awful when they are bad. Getting couples to tell the truth makes sense and seems harmless enough, right?

The Point is Bad

Unfortunately, off the bat most of us can understand that divulging our “baggage” to people we don’t know on national television is, to say the least, bad form. To do so with an eye on deciding to go on a date is just downright silly. The silliness is multiplied by the artificial nature of a TV show.

Some Perspective

There are two things that go into a great long-lasting relationship, chemistry and basis. Chemistry has to do with whether or not there is any attraction or connection with the other person. Basis has to do with the shared values needed to build a life together. Basis is really about understanding if there are any deal-killers in play. For example, if you don’t want to have any children, but your spouse-to-be wants lots of children, there’s a problem! It really can be anything, and it is important to tell the truth. Yet, on a first date and on national television; don’t you have to wonder if it’s a fair shake? People actually grow sometimes and yet, some do not! I watched an episode that had as the “baggage” a final unveiling that our contestant would never move out of his momma’s house because she cooked, cleaned, and could babysit the kids as they grew up. Obviously, this contestant will not be able to leave and cleave.

Some of the questions that may arise in how to properly reveal your “baggage” might be:

• How soon is too soon to tell the truth?
• Do you freak out the other person on the first date?
• Is it OK to keep some secrets (even if you end up getting married)?
• How is the best way to discuss “baggage” without overreacting?
• Should some things be “deal-breakers”?
• How do you know if you honestly want to know?

There isn’t much of a point in freaking out the other person on the first date; only a person with issues would like that! I do believe the more truth, the better. However, I would offer a couple of boundaries: The other person honestly wants to know the truth and it’s private (respectful).

Forcing information on someone who doesn’t want to know the gory details is not actually showing much respect for their freedom. Blabbing it out in front of a crowd does show much respect for the relationship. Of course Springer’s show is a gag, but people can turn gags into grandiose experiments. Why not just ask if they want to know? They may not, but you are better for offering.

A real, long-lasting relationship involves being true to yourself and truthful to the other person. You’ll never get there without the truth, but Springer’s approach overshoots the runway by two canyons and a bottomless lake.

You can watch Springer for one simple reason; there is a macabre comfort in seeing that your baggage isn’t as bizarre at least one other person. You might also see why the person you’ve got (or may have soon) isn’t so bad!


Fred Lybrand is the author of Glaen, the unfolding story of someone learning what real relationships are all about. To view Lybrand’s video blogs about the “7 Fatal Mistakes of Dating” and more, visit the Glaen blog at www.glaen.wordpress.com.

Audra Jennings is Senior Media Specialist at The B & B Media Group. Since 1987, The B & B Media Group, Inc. has used its broadcasting, marketing and advertising experience to provide the specialized and strategic publicity necessary to achieve the public relations goals of each client. The Barnabas Agency, a division of The B & B Media Group, Inc., is a proven provider of exceptional public relations and personal management services for authors, speakers, ministries and organizations.

0    submitted by Audra Jennings
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