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Dictionary of Whimsy: Pressuredox

Pressuredox, noan

1. Situation in which one person wants something from another, and they put so much pressure on the other person to provide it that they guarantee that they will not receive it.

2. Situation in which a person (usually a male person) is so desperate to have intercourse that he pressures another person (usually a female) into intercourse, and completely ruins probability of intercourse with that person, and all of the people she cares to tell. In many cases, the person was disposed to intercourse at some point, but is completely put off due to the pressure.

The acid test of friendship

When I meet someone I have things in common with, it all seems so easy.  I don’t have to censor myself around them. They understand me easily. It feels so refreshing. But is it friendship?

Possibly…

But I cannot say that it is yet, because friendship is not all about easiness. It starts with things being easy. It starts with things in common and easy conversations. Then life gets in the way.

Life is not easy. I am not saying that it is all bad. Life can give us wonderful things, but it can also give us challenges which are not always easy to react to in the right way. Sometimes, a person may hurt themselves and/or people around them, and not realise what they are doing.

I have had a few of these negative times in my life. And what did my friends do that others did not do? They told me the truth, even if it was not nice to hear.

To survive the acid test of friendship, you need two things:

(1) The guts for friends to tell each other when their decisions are hurting themselves or others

False friends can say negative stuff about while you are not present. (i.e. backstabbing) They won’t say stuff to your face. This is not being a friend.

Some friends stand on the sidelines watching you hurt yourself or others without telling you. This is better than backstabbing, and where a friendship is not strong enough, or a person is unsure of the whole situation, this can actually be the best course of action(*). If I don’t know a person well enough, this is the action I have to take. But I will want to be there for them if things go really badly.

However, telling someone when you see them hurting themselves or others takes guts, and if you are close enough friends with them, it is the best idea. Yet it can ruin friendships. It is not the easy thing to do, but it is sometimes the best.

Yet if you only have (1), it won’t be enough. I have been told that I am stupid/being dumb and a litany of other things by people within an hour of meeting me. This is not friendship. This is negging. I don’t like gender stereotypes, but this almost always done to me by men looking for sex.

Therefore you also need:

(2) A relationship where you respect each other enough to listen to negative feedback about each other

This means that constructive feedback can help, rather than make the recipient annoyed.

If you don’t have (2), what people say will be regarded as an insult, and it will be ignored. I have been in some situations where people thought they could tell me my real and imagined shortcomings, and I realised that I did not respect their words enough to actually listen to them, so it ruined bludgeoning friendships(**). This was not always because their words upset me. It was often because they were not even true, or showed a gross misunderstanding of me as a person.

I have received upsetting but true feedback, so I am still friends with the people who gave me that feedback. In fact, they could only give me that feedback because those friendships are strong, and are actually stronger because they cared about me enough to tell me the truth, even though they knew it would hurt me. I know they are in my corner looking out for my best interests. I know that they are not afraid of hard conversations.

To me, this is the acid test of friendship(***).

(*) If you don’t know a person well enough, you may not have all of the information to be able to make a judgement, and give feedback. It is a tricky balance.

(**) No regrets.

(***) And romantic relationships as well.

The right to sensitivity

Have you ever been in a situation where someone has been upset over something that is no big deal, or that they ‘should really be over by now’?

I know I have. I have wanted to tell them ‘get over it’ and/or ‘you are too sensitive.’

Yet I never do. Why?

Much of the time, it was a person who was frequent blow-ups. He was a highly strung fellow, and I worried about his shallow breathing and the shape of his heart. And for many other cases, I have decided I have no right to.

If I decide I have right to tell people how to feel, what else do I have the right to do? Tell them what they should eat? Instruct them in their career choices? Where does it end? I do not want to start with being the emotions police. That is certain. I have no right to tell people what they should care about or how they should feel about things.

These sensitivities, as I will call them, are not really about me. Some people may have stuff in their head which is making them feel sad, or angry. There are people out there with mental illnesses, or attitudes which will stop them having good lives. There are people who want to get angry and make placards for everything.

This is not my style of living. It is too tiring. I will get sensitive about violence, female genital mutilation, abuse of children, the treatment of Syrian emigrants, the plight of people after the earthquake in Nepal, suicides, and sexism in the media. There are some things like a late bus, a lost rugby game, cheating by a cricketer, a flag, a shop lacking jeans that fit, or an order messed up that I cannot be bothered caring about. As Mark Manson put it, I don’t give enough fucks.

But if people give fucks, I am not going to criticise them. I will be sympathetic to friends who are sad about rugby results, but I don’t care myself. If someone cries about not getting marmite, I may think they are being a wee bit unreasonable, but I don’t tell them that they are being oversensitive, or tell them to dial down their sensitive. Their things are real to them. They may be going through all kinds of shit I don’t know about in their own lives, but they only feel comfortable enough to me to bitch about Marmite. That is ok.

There are people in the world who do not have the same opinion as me. They have told me that I have been wrong to care about what I care about, or not find a joke funny, or be offended by how I treat them. This is usually men. The thing is, this will not change my opinions, or make me stop caring, laugh at a joke or decide someone is inoffensive. It just makes me annoyed. They are essentially telling me that my way of thinking, and my choice of what I care about is not acceptable to them.

I get where they are coming from. I really do. It can be annoying when people fly off the handle all the time for what seems to be no reason. Here is an option. If you think someone is too sensitive for you to deal with, work out why. Maybe, the joke has a highly offensive nuance which you didn’t think about, and you should say sorry. Maybe, they should get counselling for their issues (it is not your place to tell them this unless you are very close friends with them). Also, maybe look at yourself. If someone is being sensitive and it is really annoying you, this may be partially or even fully about you.

If someone’s conduct is really annoying you, you don’t HAVE to spend time with them. One guy who bitched and moaned about his life constantly asked me out. He did not get a date. I dated a guy for a few weeks who flew off the handle without any reason. I am not dating him anymore. There have been people in my life who have talked about their family issues in their teens and little else. This is not cute after 30 and I don’t spend much time with them. Yet I have some highly sensitive friends who I would not swap for the world. Sensitivity is a superpower when used for the right reasons, and their sensitivity makes them great friends. They understand and empathise with me at a level that other friends just don’t have. I love them for it.

Sensitivity of others can be annoying, but everyone has the right to their own sensitivity. Telling someone that they do not have this right is just a little bit rude in my opinion.

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