prev : next : index SPEW

April 28, 1999: so how could we see the same one?


Ok, I should be a little more clear about yesterday's entry. I don't mind the stuff in the described rant--it's not something anyone would be likely to identify as me, and moreover there's no claim made that the description is accurate. The point of the rant is "if the relationship is as crappy as you say it is, why are you in it?"

And my explanation at the end of what bothers me isn't really on the nose. It's not dishonest, either; I just haven't been able to quite put my finger on why the whole thing bothered me so much. I think it bugs me because the impled view of the inside of my then-girlfriend's head is disturbing. Why, if there were certain problems, was I the last one informed, six years later, and only accidentally? It seems depressingly like the classic "mind-reading" scenario--that there was no way I could have acted to correct the problems without knowing about the problems, and she wasn't telling me about them, and they weren't exactly things I could figure out for myself. (No doubt she thought I should be able to. There's the rub.)

It bugs me too because I know I had spent a lot of effort trying to stress how important I thought clear lines of communication were to a relationship. Not honesty--not trust--just making an effort to communicate. (Not that I mind honesty and trust. But trust takes time to build.) I've seen too many other people's relationships run aground because one party or both thought they were on the same page when they weren't. When you assume you know what somebody else is thinking, you can misinterpret everything they say and do in that light.

It bugs me too because I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but this sort of thing makes me feel like I'm not getting it in return. Of course, I know that most people aren't like that. I'm sometimes perceived as a social misfit because I ask too many questions. People say I must lack common sense if I need an explanation clarified, because "it's obvious". To me, things are too often incompletely specified--reliant on an implicit context--and I'd rather not have the chance of ambiguity and confusion causing problems. The worst is that the problems can propogate down the road, until the details of the initial miscommunication are forgotten, and it becomes nearly impossible to every clear it up. Except, like I said, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I'm constantly reassesing my understanding of other's mental state. "Maybe she thinks that because I'm..." or "maybe he has something he has to keep secret and therefore..." I can remember times in college when people seemed to be treating me poorly. And I said to myself, "Well, maybe there's more going on here, and there's a good reason why they'd do this." And sometimes it's true. Somebody doesn't call you because they had a flat tire. Somebody disappears for the weekend because they had to go to a funeral. It's almost always possible to find a possible explanation for somebody's behavior that doesn't involve them being heartless, mean, or just a jerk. So I tend give them the benefit of the doubt. Of course, sometimes they are just being jerks.

It bugs me too because I have a list of women who've mysteriously stopped being friendly with me. (Well, ok, that's not true, I think there's only two.) It's unfair, and I hate it. They just refuse to communicate. They won't listen to a thing I have to say. And I don't know what to say anyway. They decided I was a jerk, or something, based on something that happened presumably, and have decided never to communicate with me again. The problems with this approach? I never find out what I supposedly did wrong, so I can't act to correct it, even with other people. I'm never given a chance to defend myself, to explain why there was actually nothing wrong with what I did. I'm not given the benefit of the doubt. In the most heinous case, it was someone I knew online. I was forced to switch to a new nickname in that community, because she would log out the moment I virtually walked into the room--no doubt partly because at first I had kept trying to ask her what was wrong, and she was tired of being "pestered". Once I realized I was never going to find out what happened, I changed my online name and never tried to talk to her again. At least I could stop feeling guilty about her "having to" leave when I walked in, this way.

It would be nice to know if I was actually a jerk, or if there was simply a miscommunication somehow. And that's part of why I'm bugged in the ex-girlfriend case--because I confirmed my suspicions that at least part of the problem was poor communication. So it makes me wonder. Indeed, I later found out that the woman described in the previous paragraph sometimes shared her character with her boyfriend, so upon some occasions there was a totally different person controlling it--someone without the same memories and shared knowledge pool. And you know what? This sounds like a recipe for miscommunication to me. Indeed, it sounds like I know where the blame probably lies. Or should I give her the benefit of the doubt?

The world revolves around you
But it revolves around me, too
So how could we see the same one?

prev : next : month : index : : home
attribution dammit: Small Heads Lisa Germano