A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a man who told me of a conflict with a female in his family. After months of estrangement, he negotiated a situation which forced the two of them to face each other in a restaurant. Once there, he attempted to address their issue.
“I asked why she’d been so distant,” he told me. “And she said it was because I ‘didn’t try hard enough’.”
“That makes sense to me,” I explained. “She wanted you to pursue her in some way. When your force didn’t match her standards, she concluded you didn’t care enough and you weren’t worth it.”
My friend looked bewildered. “But I don’t play that way,” he said. “When she said she didn’t want to talk to me, I let her have her space.”
“Yeah I get that,” I assured him. “Unfortunately, she doesn’t.”
Since our conversation, I’ve given this issue a lot more thought. And I think I blame Cinderella.
Little girls have been raised to believe that Prince Charming will tirelessly travel to every house for miles and miles until he finds his true love… this, after mice are magically transformed into horses. We’re programmed to believe that those who love us (parents, siblings, lovers, fairy godmothers) will do whatever it takes… whatever that means.
Example: Some time ago, Boyfriend and I endured some drama after an emotionally-charged weekend with the boys. Following a heated argument, as well as some allergy issues, he took an anti-histamine and went to bed… At 2 a.m. I was still awake, replaying the drama over and over and over. And I was sobbing. Hard. Looking at Boyfriend slumbering peacefully, I was filled with rage. How can he just lie there and sleep? I thought. I’m suffering! Why won’t he get up and comfort me?
When my powers of logic and reason returned the following day, I was able to understand how it was that Boyfriend had the audacity to sleep while I sobbed: he was asleep, ignorant to my tears and more importantly, he can’t read my mind. Yet, in that moment, I was absolutely certain that he didn’t care because he wasn’t performing some heroic feat. (Freakin’ Cinderella!)
When I look around, I can see this expectation/conclusion scenario everywhere. Especially when it comes to divorce… except, in divorce it can be projected onto the children too (“he must not care about them because he didn’t ….”).
Let’s all be mindful of the impact innocent fairy tales can have on real life. Men: keep in mind, that is her logic. Ladies: remember, he can’t read our minds and he doesn’t always equate emotion with action.
So far, the only cure I can see for this affliction is raw, honest communication. (Ouch! Sometimes I’d rather be violated by a syringe full of medication)