The Fine Line Between

The past decade, and more recently, the past year has shown me that there is a very fine line that marks the boundary between caring about someone… and threatening your own self respect while caring about someone. I’m not talking about a romantic relationship. I’m talking about any relationship in general… be it friendship or be it family (or anything outside of those two boxes). A scenario arises wherein someone becomes upset over their interpretation of a situation, makes assumptions, and doesn’t make an effort to understand the other person’s perspective. Most of the time this happens in high school, but unfortunately some people bring it into adulthood… likely because they don’t actually have any real issues or responsibilities to deal with. But regardless of how entitled a person is, this self-centered behavior is not okay in adulthood.

First of all, if you’re older than 25, you have no business creating drama and dragging it out for years if the person you have an issue with has made any attempt whatsoever to reach out to you and figure out what’s wrong. Even if that’s only once. If you’re expecting them to reach out 10 times before you respond, or you want them to do things a certain way before you agree to cut the silent treatment, you can expect to lose that person from your life all together. People as adults have their own lives to tend to, and no one has time to deal with a tantrum or cater to another adult’s intricate demands. Most of us can hardly keep up with our own personal needs to then try and tend to some external person’s.

Secondly, as an adult, you’re expected to communicate whatever your need is. No one is going to read your mind unless it’s your spouse – and even that’s a big fat *MAYBE*. Most people as stated above have their own lives to deal with. Their own issues and exhaustions to deal with. They don’t have time to sit around wondering how to walk on eggshells around you. You see, on a regular basis, normal adults aren’t sitting around intentionally trying to sabotage and hurt other adults. Most of the time if something goes wrong it’s unintentional. They don’t even know they’ve done anything to upset you. So, the onus is on YOU to communicate your feelings.

You can’t be mad at someone, not tell them that you’re mad, and then become madder at them because they didn’t ask you why you were mad.

There is a fine line between caring for someone (so you reach out a few times to ask what’s wrong), and losing your self respect (where you keep begging someone to tell you what’s wrong despite them continuing to ignore you).

I have a rule of thumb for myself – if I feel, empathetically, that I have done something to hurt someone’s feelings, albeit unintentionally and possibly for a VERY good reason that one may be unaware of, then I’ll reach out a couple of times. Once, twice, maybe three times. I’ll wait a month, two months, maybe 3 months. But beyond that… if the tantrum continues… then I am well within my rights to decide that the other party does not have any respect for our relationship.

That they expect me to lose all self respect by continuing to desperately seek their attention and good graces while they continue disrespecting me by ignoring me.

And that… I just simply won’t do. Luckily, I’ve only really had to deal with this once in my life so far… but the point is that we’re all adults here. Drop the adolescent act and start communicating. As an adult, either learn to behave like an adult, or people will have no option but to eliminate you and the negativity you bring from their lives.