Monday, October 19, 2009

I want to wring her neck, but you can't say that about women

She wants help so badly, but she's unable to ask for it.  She can't even admit that it's something that people might occasionally want -- "A shoulder to cry on?  Psh, whatever, weirdo!"

People do want it, though.  They are socially retarded enough to scoff at it, but they still yearn for it.

I know this because I'm a card-carrying member.  To me, it's one of the best things about being in a relationship with a partner -- being able to bring issues up in committee to get a second opinion.  You can do it while being single, too: it's just easier when there's a "go-to" person.

My friend hates appearing weak.  She's fixated on being strong and under-emotional.  Part of it is a family thing.  Part is the relationship legacy.  Part is just her own bull-headed pride.

I have to bully her with wanting to help.  Were we in a relationship manual, this would be an admission that earns a giant red X, with an accompanying paragraph about how women respect a solicitous man less than an aloof one.

Luckily, we're not in a relationship book and I have no desire to date her.  Being "just friends" gives me a lot of latitude to behave as "un-date-able" as I could possibly want.  I give her hard truths.  In return, I collect acknowledging sighs.  And occasionally arm-punches, but it's been almost a year since that's happened.  Knock on wood.

There are days when getting anything more than the quality of the weather out of her is a massive excavation worthy of Lord Carnarvon.  These are days that make me resolved to just let her be, stewing in her own ... stew.

But I think I've figured out what it is: she doesn't like to owe anyone.  I have a longstanding policy with friends of mine regarding meals involving two.  Basically, we alternate buying the meals so that one of us always eats for free.  It's like a 50%-chance lottery, except not really.  This plan doesn't work with this particular friend, because she obsesses over whether or not she's paid me back, and eventually I get stopped in the hall and handed cash to settle the account.

Our personalities clash when it comes to helping.  She would rather lose a leg than ask for help.  If I sense that help is needed, I become INCREDIBLY assertive, leaving her no room to complain or dissemble.  Fortunately, that's hardly ever necessary. She recompenses me by demanding I seek medical attention when I need it.  Both incidents occur every 18-24 months, so it's hard to see them in the light of "secretly relying" on each other.  We're just both stubborn, responding mostly to people getting in our way, steering us by the shoulders, and generally caring about us.  Under protest, of course.

1 comment:

  1. It is true that a sizable portion of women AND men find it is easier to carry their burdens inside when faced with the prospect of sharing their thoughts, feelings, and emotions aloud. The thought of an audience (even if it totals one) proves to be the most powerful of locks.

    General consensus is that when presented with a lock, one can safely assume that there exists a key. You can look look no further than the classic tale of "Ghostbusters" to see that even in the land of the spirits & specters, you can't have a gatekeeper without a keymaster.

    I have found that sharing and communicating with one another is a vital component of relationship health. Yes, it it unpleasant to have any form of toxicity, malcontent, or strife. Why would you want to share it with anyone? Could it be that we are all just sentient beings, each with our own thoughts, feelings, and emotions?

    Vulnerability, mortality, and fear. They are unique emotions. Wait a tick, everyone experiences their share, don't they?

    There is so much to gain from the simple act of opening up. Granted, just as with any other life skill, it takes practice and experience to see fruitful gains.

    No day like today.