Edward Hopper, 1926.
I called one of my closest friend a fucking useless cuck (short for cuckold), and not just once, but multiple times within that singular conversation we had a few months ago.
I did it out of love.
Don’t get me wrong, I know me. I throw out profanities way too freely at times, especially when I’m talking about something I have a burning passion for, but I don’t actively go out and insult people.
He told me to wake him up, and it’s funny in a way, because sometimes I feel like I’m the last person who has the ability to truly assist people I care about.
I mean, I’m an oddball.
I’m a creature of habit in a way, yet sometimes I do the most unexpected things. Well, let me clarify – some of these actions may seem and be outrageous, but anyone who really knows me would probably say something along the lines of, “on second thought, that does seem like something she’d do though…”.
I’m overtly emotional at times, especially when it comes really touching books / films / TV shows / videos, animals, and people I care about…also depending on what part of the month, too. My tears flow out too quickly – but fret not, I cry alone almost all the time, because I’m too proud to do so in front of anyone else. I believe I’m also extremely empathetic (to a point that it might actually be a fault, because who wants to put him / herself in everybody’s shoes?). I’m also too objective and calm at times to the extent I can point out the logics behind actions & behaviors and act way too appropriately / devoid of emotions to the extent that it’s ice cold. The right way, so to say.
So yeah, definitely a perfect candidate to be anyone’s wake up call over here.
He told me to be ruthless, because he needed to get out of a funk he’s been in for while, and I was the only one who knows about the entirety of the situation.
We’re all just part-time perpetrators and victims in different ways within our own different love stories, no matter what tense they are in.
I started recording messages to send to him, which probably evolved into a call, and I truly insulted him without any filters as per his adamant request. He had zero boundaries, and was essentially acting solely upon his emotions and desires for her. Our favorite philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, would definitely be sorely disappointed in him during that time. And probably look at him with the expression like the man on Hopper’s Sunday painting.
He placed her above anything and anyone, and that included himself.
“Can you fucking give yourself some dignity and respect? Because it even hurts me to see you this way.”
First of all, what do dignity and pride mean? They seem similar off the bat with subtle yet substantial differences, so here’s the definition of both of them, courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary:
[Note: In case you were lazy, I underlined and colored the main points.]
1 The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect
2 A composed or serious manner or style.
2.1 A sense of pride in oneself; self-respect
1 A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
2 [often with modifier] Confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of the group, typically one that has been socially marginalized, on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience.
Essentially, the main difference between dignity and pride is internal versus external.
Dignity is something that no one else can give you except for yourself, which goes into the same category as happiness. It’s a sense of self-worth / self-esteem. If you are incapable of thinking highly of yourself, why should other people? Why would someone treat you like treasure when even you believe that you are trash? It’s hard to sell something to others when you don’t even have an ounce of faith in it. If you think that your dignity doesn’t reflect upon your interactions with other people…well, it actually does.
We determine our own worth by following through actions that align with our beliefs. The more you conduct in ways that are congruent to your values and cores, the more respect you have for yourself. This also builds onto the esteem level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which I believe translates to the relationship you have with yourself.
Obviously, there are a lot people who do the opposite. They are aware of how their actions do not reflect on what they believe in, but in a way, their fears, insecurities, and whatnot come in the way to fuck everything up (most of the time it really boils down to those two factors though). It’s a defense mechanism in a sense, and to be fair, I don’t blame them. I mean…I’ve done it before. I’ll probably do it in the future despite knowing how conflicted I’ll feel. It doesn’t justify their actions, nor does it make them excusable (because some are straight up cruel, let’s be real here), but I can relate to the reasoning behind it. Jumping out of the comfort zone is terrifying, and a lot of people choose to delay that. Or never do so. Then they live in this consistent level of angst and struggle that they accustom to until they decide to change one day. You can’t really blame them on that, can you?
Pride is something that you can obtain through others and yourself. You can even find bits and pieces of pride through materialism, and, well, other people.
Think about the smug smirk of the Maserati / whatever car brand that’s expensive (sorry, not my realm here) owner when everyone gawks at his / her (no gender bias here) slick drive.
Think about the just engaged woman who just can’t wait to show off her diamond ring to everyone else, including the random five-year-old next to her in public.
Think about the playboy whose arm is around his newest (yet unfortunately, replaceable) foxy lady and how he’s deluged by envious glances.
I’m pretty sure you get the gist of what I’m referring to, but these are just stark examples of pride someone can get through others.
This is probably one of the reasons why some people who are more well off tend to possess some sort of superiority and pride over ones who are not. You know, those specific rich (not necessarily even wealthy) assholes who think they’re so much more important than others just because they have more money in their bank accounts or more property and stock. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty fortunate, too, but it irks me when I see people getting judged based on the background they’re from. It doesn’t happen as often, but it still does. Honestly, a lot of this entitlement actually comes from…well, spoiled kids that get everything and their ways almost all the time. Once they are primed to this behavior, they will wreak havoc when things don’t go the way they expect. Typically, it gets worse when they’re adults.
To be clear, a lot of people who build their wealth from scratch are actually quite humble. It’s usually the children who are more likely to possess an issue if the parents coddle them too much. It really depends on the upbringing of each individual.
There are definitely more wholesome ways to gain pride though, and they can be through personal achievements such as an advancement in your career, overcoming some sort of fear / taking a chance, or improving at a hobby and / or skill. Some things will give you more pride than others, based on the impact and significance they have on you, which also varies depending on your values. See how almost everything is a full circle?
Sometimes the things you do might not necessarily garner any pride from others except for yourself. That is completely normal and okay. I’ve done quite a few things I’m proud of myself that I haven’t told anyone about (or only to a few close friends), because I feel like I am trying to fish for admiration or just bragging when I mention them. On occasion, the most significant actions that induces personal pride may not be the ones that are recognized or known by anyone except for yourself.
And yes, in case if you were wondering – the pride you extract through others are usually the unimportant, fleeting ones, but I’m sure you figured that out already.
Did you notice that both of the definitions mention self-respect?
This is going to blow your mind…or probably not.
Self-Respect: (courtesy of Oxford Dictionary, again)
Pride and confidence in oneself; a feeling that one is behaving with honor and dignity.
It is the combination of dignity and pride. It’s important to realize that both of these qualities are essential to every individual. However, the existence of excess pride can be dangerous as it can unnecessarily inflate one’s self importance, which in turn in colloquial language translates into being an arrogant asshole. Don’t be one – there are a lot in this world already.
Room in New York
Edward Hopper, 1932.
He asked me countless times why she did this action and said certain things to him.
What does it mean? What does she want? Why?
I mean, don’t get me wrong. I ask him a ton of questions, too, about why certain people behave in some ways as well.
I don’t think I can ever get annoyed at him, because he’s genuinely a great person, and I care about him. Whenever he mentions her, love emits out of his words. I even told him that I wish someone will love me the way he loves her…one day. Obviously, there’s self love, which is important (and something I need to improve consistently on), but there’s romantic love. There are elements in each type of love that cannot be emulated.
I tried to explain to him what she might be thinking from an objective view, but the truth hurts sometimes.
I chose to hurt him every single time.
“She doesn’t give that much shit about you. Just enjoy the moment, but if you’re going to get burned then think about whether it’s worth it or not.”
There’s a difference between temporarily putting one’s pride aside in a relationship and being a doormat.
A doormat is a description for someone who’s easily walked over. Basically, he / she tries to appease to…well, I guess everyone, but especially his / her significant other to the extent that is unbearable. There are poor or nonexistent boundaries for doormats, and they essentially allow people to do whatever the fuck they want with disregard to themselves.
Sounds healthy, doesn’t it?
I mean, in a doormat’s defense, it’s an act of love, care, and indulgence. Fair enough. However, has this ever worked on anyone? I mean, even our parents don’t say yes to us all the time, and I’m pretty sure in most cases our parents are the ones who love us the most in the entire world.
Humans are a bit weird sometimes in a sense that we’re…sadistic by nature.
Let me explain.
Go back and think of the times that you’ve done something for someone you had / have feelings for. Yes, that time (or the times) that you’ve bent your back, twisted your schedule, and ditched your friends and family for that person. From hindsight (or well, now), you damn well know that your crush was / is aware of your feelings.
What did / does your crush do with this knowledge?
Chances are, he / she probably did absolutely nothing. If your crush were to do something, you’d probably be heading towards relationship-ville with him / her (okay, it sounded so much cooler in my head, but I’m keeping it). Yeah, I know, it sucks. If you’re lucky enough to never experience this, well…then, that’s damn fortunate. I hope you never go through this bullshit.
Why did he / she do nothing about it?
It’s pretty simple if I boil it down to you, because I’ve reiterated throughout my other posts repeatedly – we are not that different. Here are the following reasons:
- He / She is just not that into you.
- He / She is playing games and liking the chase, the mystique, and is bored and killing time.
- He / She is insecure and does like you, but also has personal issues he / she prioritizes over being in a relationship with you, which also translates to he / she is just not that into you. (Haha, sorry, we always feed ourselves this excuse, so I had to put it on.)
- Okay, fine, here’s the 0.01% where he / she is that dense and unaware of your feelings. Does that soothe you a bit?
So…you do all these nice gestures for your crush – for what? Just so he / she can notice you a little bit longer. Just so he / she can text, message, or call you for basically anything. Just so he / she can think of you and miss you. Just so he / she can reciprocate his / her feelings back to you. It’s normal. We tend to do favors for people we like to see if we can gain their approval and liking. Ironically, if you want someone to like you more, ask them for a favor. It’s a psychological phenomenon called the Ben Franklin Effect. Pretty neat, isn’t it?
We tend to want to test how much someone likes us unconsciously. Don’t even deny it. It doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person as it’s natural for us. However, it does make you a sketchy person if you tend to lead people on, making them believe that there’s a potential when you know clearly that there’s none.
Think back on the time someone you felt lukewarm about do something for you to earn your affection. It was a sweet gesture, and you did appreciate it, but at the same time you wanted to know what else he / she might do for you to prove his / her fondness towards you. Perhaps you were passive in situations like these, and that person pursued you more until you got bored or overwhelmed by the charades. Perhaps you baited a little to see if you could fish and reel that person into doing what you want him / her to do just because (this isn’t okay though, if you’re not planning to be with that person, just because is a shitty reason; karma goes around so be aware of that it
might will happen to you one day). Either way, it’s always an ego / pride boost when someone likes you in a romantic sense.
Imagine the reverse now, when you were the one who was guessing how someone felt about you.
Were you a doormat who kept on pleasing despite the fact that some of these actions affected you negatively? Did you continue your actions despite being aware of the very possible fact that he / she was just not that into you?
We tend to like to lie to yourself and believe that we might be the exception, or how he / she will finally notice one day how well you were treating him / her and come back to you. Sorry to break it to you, but it usually never happens. If someone wants to do something, he / she will actively try to change. If someone wants to be with someone, he / she will present it with actions. Words are as empty as my consumed wine and whiskey bottles. There’s the aroma, there’s the allure, and there’s also nothing. Expecting something substantial out of sweet nothings will break your heart even more. Believe me. I know it’s hard. I’d buy you a shot if I could (unless you’re underage, then come back to me when you’re 18 or 21).
Then there’s the kind of people who put their pride temporarily aside in relationships.
I believe that there’s always a boiling point in all sorts of relationships. In this case, I’m still referring to the ambiguous crushing state relevant to the example above. It’s either to stay or to go, with or without that person. In a sense, it feels like you’re cutting a part of your heart off with a knife in that precise moment, because you don’t want to let go. You truly gravitate towards that person, and despite seeing the good, bad, and everything in between for your crush, you still want to give a relationship a shot. However, we can only accept stagnancy for so long. It’s virtually impossible for anyone to keep their lives on hold for someone else, especially when they’re hanging in uncertainty.
If anyone is going through this right now, well, I don’t feel sorry for you. I can totally relate, because I know how it feels. I don’t sympathize; I empathize in this case. No matter how many words of encouragement from friends you receive, it just doesn’t seem like the situation is any better.
However, what you’re doing is the right decision. It may seem like the end of the world, or at least, the doomsday of your dating world as you cannot envision falling for another person, because of how intense your feelings are for this person now. We all want things and people we can’t have, which explains why you feel nothing but bleakness.
You’ve placed your pride aside and accepted failure. You’ve always been aware of the fact that not everything works the way you want in life, but to have that actually happen to you is a whole other story. It stings more than just a little when that happens, because we are all struggling in some ways and this is basically another blow. There’s a huge distinction between knowing a fact at the back of your mind and acknowledging it.
It’s important to remember that despite the fact that you’re gently letting down your pride, you have preserved your dignity. You would have none of that if you were to stay and get stepped over and over like a doormat. You gain nothing but dirt and shit. Do you really want that? If there’s one thing that I can recommend you to keep, then it’s your dignity. I’d pick my dignity every single time over a potential, or a relationship.
The first step to getting back onto your feet is to recognize this failure directly. Only then can you really start walking away from it.
Excursion Into Philosophy
Edward Hopper, 1959.
“Would you recommend anyone to date her?”
“No. You’re right, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to do so.”
“If you had a son, would you want him to date someone like her?”
“Do you love your hypothetical son as much as you’d love yourself? Honestly, I’m guessing if you were to have a child, you’d love the shit out of him or her. And really, if you could love your hypothetical child like that, why can’t you love yourself, too? Clearly there’s some sort of lack of self love…”
It took me a while (okay, I really tried from the beginning) to shatter his rose-tinted glasses for her.
It doesn’t mean that he’s stopped loving her. Not at all. He still cares and wants the best for her, but within appropriate boundaries. There’s no overreaching, no random bailouts, and he also stopped acting as her vessel for boredom and attention.
The moment he stopped being a doormat (in hindsight, I should’ve called him that instead of a cuck. I did apologize to him more than a handful of times after that, because I felt really bad about it), he regained some of his dignity and self-respect. No one can expect respect from others if one doesn’t even possess self-respect. Remember that.
He used to run towards her when he heard her calls from a distance. He’d drop everything in the world if it meant that it would make her happy. It’s love, but it’s also overindulgence. She got greedy, and he got tired, burned out, confused, and heartbroken. She never wanted to change their dynamic, because she’s eating her cake and having it. My friend was doing boyfriend duties for her even though there’s no commitment on her side. He kept on trying in the past, because he thought fixing her issues for her would bring back their happiest moments and that would potentially salvage their relationship.
He asked me why she wouldn’t commit.
I told him I wouldn’t commit to him if I were her, too. I already have what I want without needing to put in any effort. Why would I ever want to change the situation?
I don’t think it’s a sign of weakness for anyone to express his / her emotions. It’s hard to talk about feelings, and the male gender gets a lot of criticism over expression. I find it comforting that my friend trusts me enough to tell me about his problems (don’t worry, he knows that I’m writing a post dedicated to him, and he’s my number one reader).
Sometimes we just need a bit more encouragement and perspective from others. In Mandarin Chinese, we have an idiom that directly translates to: seeing a flower in a mist, which means being incapable of seeing what’s around you other than the silhouette. He was so focused on fixing the issues in her life that he’s neglected his own problems until now. He was so engaged with his love for her, that he forgot to love and respect himself.
We cannot fix anyone but ourselves. We can lend a helping hand when needed, but it’s impossible to deal with other people’s baggage and insecurities constantly. It doesn’t work that way, and I’ve learned that the hard way.
No relationship is worthy enough for you giving up your dignity and self respect. And if you find yourself doing that, then that person isn’t a good fit for you (please don’t feed yourself excuses). One of the most important foundations of a robust relationship is respect. Of course, there’s other factors, too, but this one is occasionally neglected. Then when shit goes down, people suddenly become too painfully aware about the lack of it.
Never break your boundaries for anyone. Never fracture your dignity and respect for anyone. People come and go and most of them are replaceable, but those stay with you for life. Remember that.
To the friend I’m dedicating this post to: you have changed a lot and I am really proud of you. I’m also sorry (again) for calling you a cuck back then.
The Sunday painting is also pretty coincidental. Pretty cool though.