Dates & Nuts: Check or carry on?

One man’s relationship baggage begs the question
Baggage Datesnuts
Lissa Mathis

Dear Stacey,

Over the past year, my ex-wife and I finalized a very messy divorce. We have two children together. After the divorce, I tried dating through several apps and online sites, and met a couple of nice people but nothing really clicked. I recently went through a corporate layoff, and while I am finding freelance opportunities, I do not have a full-time job yet. Needless to say, my confidence has taken a bit of a beating, and I’m concerned women will question what I can bring to the table as a recently divorced, unemployed man with two children. How can I overcome this hurdle so I can move on with my life and have a chance to start a new relationship?


Luggage Rack


Dear Luggage,

When I was younger and used to travel for business, I used to pride myself on my ability to cram everything into a small carry-on. Of course, this was before TSA started restricting fluid ounces to a quart-sized Ziploc bag (read: toiletries and makeup). I also didn’t need much in the realm of cosmetics and cream in the first place because I had nice, young skin without fine lines and dark eye circles. You’re probably wondering where am I going with this, but you named yourself Luggage, and now you’re just going to have to remain seated until I turn off the “Fasten Seat Belt” light.

As I got older, I found myself checking my bags more often to accommodate the rules and my increased need for fancy night cream and plumping lip gloss. As a result, my carry-on became smaller and lighter. Airlines started charging extra for checked bags, which meant a lot of people were trying to get away with schlepping quite a few carry-on items—some quite large and cumbersome—and this meant a lot less space in the overhead cabins. There were times when I had to check my little carry-on at the gate because others were abusing the policy. I couldn’t grasp why these people had to bring so much crap on the plane with them in the first place. I mean, planes serve wine, and I had my passport and a book. Aside from clean underpants, what more does anyone need? It was a very frustrating time for me. I had adjusted to the changes. What the hell was everyone else’s problem? Did this make me an intolerant asshole? Maybe, but as a paying customer, I felt I had very basic expectations that needed to be met. That was not happening.

Now, you’re admittedly bringing a lot to the gate—basically, cramming a hefty suitcase into the overhead compartment and making a lot of boarders behind you wait to sit down. This is going to be annoying or downright intolerable to certain kinds of passengers. You might even consider another means of transportation. However, there will be some who will be patient and ride alongside you. There are people who won’t get as ruffled. Your job is to eventually find one of those people and that may take a little time, and that time is exactly where the magic happens.

“When everything is going against you, remember the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it,” is a quote that has been widely attributed online to Henry Ford, and I presently can’t find a source to dispute it. At any rate, you’ve just come out of what I assume is a fairly long-term and committed relationship. You have two children who need your attention. Your job loss has undoubtedly handed you a financial burden as well as a blow to your self-esteem. You’ve asked how you can overcome this hurdle to help you start a new relationship. My answer, unfortunately, is another question:


How can you overcome this hurdle and start to improve the relationship you have with yourself? 

At the risk of sounding cliché, you have to practice a little self-love—and a little common sense—in order to get the kind of love you want in return. Why do you want to be distracted with meaningless interactions on a dating app? Why do you want to spend money on dates when you are currently out of work? You have the time right now to be selfish, lick your wounds, and eventually heal. You have the time right now to focus on your career and the rest of your life. You have the time right now to be a solid role model to your children. Once you are in a relationship, you aren’t going to have the luxury of time because you will be focused on the other person. Right? 

It’s time for you to put yourself upright and prepare for takeoff. Yes, you’ll be sitting in discomfort for a little while. However, in the end, I think you’ll appreciate the journey more than the destination. 


Stacey Rowe is a freelance writer based in Rochester. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @ladysensory and at

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