What does it take to walk away from relationships?

I have always wondered what it is exactly that prevents us from walking away from toxic people and troublesome relationships. Why do people sometimes endure bad treatment, dishonesty and shallowness? I know that humans are irrational and that everything we do needn’t have a reason. But, sometimes, it is hard to see why people stick to some people voluntarily despite them being a nuisance or at least of questionable value to them.

In long-lasting friendships, people would have done a lot for each other, sacrificed many things and gone to great lengths for the happiness of their friends. Sometimes, they may have denied themselves opportunities simply because it might have struck them as selfish or because exploiting them might have hurt their friends.

These small gestures create a feeling of indebtedness that is difficult to shrug off easily, even when it later turns out that the relationship is proving to be an impediment to one’s own progress.

I have always considered any opportunity to help any one as a privilege. But, recently, I also realized that it is a good way of giving something back to your friends. If you have always given lavishly to the people around you and never expected anything back from them, then you will find that you have a lot of freedom. If one day you decide to just leave it all behind, you can walk away without any qualms. Without any worry about feeling like a selfish/manipulative person. That freedom to walk away without even turning back to say goodbye is a precious one.

Guilt and feelings of obligation are two of the biggest factors that entangle people in useless relationships. If you are free of them, then, that means that the friends you have are people you genuinely like and want in your life. Being surrounded by such people is of more worth than any small discomfort you have to endure for it.

I am not implying that you should be wary of asking your friends for help. Just that you should not look down upon any opportunity to be of use to someone… Always give more than you take (an incredibly wise saying… even for a selfish person). It can bring immense satisfaction and peace to the fair-minded among us.

Whatever I wrote here was inspired by a book I read recently called The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. In the book, the author talks about how some people can misuse our fundamental tendency to reciprocate by doing us unwanted favours. Though what I have written is not directly related to it, I think, that our innate sense of fairness can constrain our actions and force us into negative relationships if we let ourselves grow indebted to other people.

No secrets between us

Is it wise to confide things of a personal nature to a person who is in a relationship with someone? Who do we trust when we need to just to talk to someone without fear of what we say becoming public?

I was wondering about some of these questions. What set it off? I was just thinking about an  incident that I happened to witness once… maybe more than just once.  One person was in an extremely distressing situation and under extreme emotional and psychological pressure. The person felt that it was absolutely necessary to talk about what happened to someone. (Since it is difficult to keep on using “one person” I am going to use “he” everywhere. Pardon me if it, at times,  sounds gay. )

So, he chose someone who he thought was a very good friend and would provide a sympathetic ear to his troubles. Immediately after he puts down the phone, the friend dials his “love” and quickly shares the secret. Why? Well, that is an easy question!

Because, they are in such deep love, the highest and most noble of all emotions. That pure and exalted quality that can solve all of the world’s problems. There cannot be a barrier when people are in love. There cannot be secrets. When someone tells one half of a couple something, there is simply no way of keeping the other half from it. The partner of the friend, since it was not his secret to keep, nor was it directly entrusted to him, immediatly flashed it throughout his hostel.

Why? Because teenage love is more of a tool that is used to bolster an evolving personality which does not yet have the foundations for a solid and versatile ego or an unshakeable sense of self esteem. The boost that one can get from having a backdoor access to secrets happening on the other side and from showing it off to friends is addictive and to resist the temptation is too to much to ask of young love.

I have asked some people why they do it. Always the answer is “Because honesty is absolutely vital to (puppy) love.” When I hear that, the sadistic devil inside me gives a little giggle. So, it is honesty…. They tell absolutely everything to each other!! Really!? Well, maybe not everything. They  obviously don’t tell their own shameful secrets to each other. They don’t recount tales of all the really humiliating and embarrassing episodes in their life to each other. They don’t tall each other their own little efforts at infidelity.  The market is already tight enough. No one would want to make themselves look less desirable. Not unless there is a sympathy angle to be exploited or if they feel that the other person might be feeling a little beaten in the face of the magnificence of their own achievements.

In any case, no person in a relationship would knowingly upset the power/image balance with dirty secrets involving themselves. Not if they can help it! If teenage love is as much about maintaining an image, playing it “cool”, showing attitude and being a “fun” person(even if it is not the real you)  as it is about showing respect, then how does deep honesty with regard to other people’s secrets have anything to do with it?

Well, again an easy question. Instead of any deep appreciation for the other person, more often than not, what drives these kinds of relationships is the desire to feel loved and the feeling of adulthood and responsibility that it brings with it. I have seen people discuss these “lofty” matters in secret and immediately shut up when they seem me. Why? Because I am a boy and not yet mature enough to handle/understand such weighty matters.  Here are a bunch of guys who only recently crossed puberty sitting around discussing such small things while ignoring their studies, national and international affairs, questions concerning their personal ethics and morality and other things that would be directly beneficial to themselves and their society.

The digression aside, the really important point is that, image is everything. Who would miss an opportunity to share ghastly things about a peer to his loved one? Just imagine how good it makes the person seem in comparison? Never mind that whether to share the secrets or not is not their choice to make. Never mind the dishonesty and cruelty you are showing to it’s real owner. All that pales in comparison to your “love”. Its really sickening….

Most people eventually outgrow such relationships and walk away with important lessons that will be useful to them when the time comes. Some get hurt irreparably. Some follow through with it and of these relationships  a vast majority end up on the rocks. There is a time for everything. When you are flaming with passion you will be blind to a huge number of faults and will be struck by the talent, beauty and ability of your mate. Only time and cold reasoning combined with actual experience can teach a person that what is really important is simplicity, a good heart, a kind disposition, a good handle on emotions and real and suitably mature honesty. Beauty and talent doesn’t really do anything to make relationships work  over the long term.

So, what will happen to the guy who confides his deepest secrets to such friends? Well , he is screwed! If it doesn’t immediately become public, it is only a matter of time before it does. If the couple stays together, they both will know and probably others will too. If they break up afterwards everyone is going to know for sure. The shallowness and petty cruelty of youth takes time to die off.

So, who can you really trust. Well, the easy answer is people who are paid to do it and just maybe… your parents. But, that is like a touch and go thing. Sometimes, even parents might spill the beans, maybe to try and teach you a lesson or to shame you into submission or something like that. You can always count on them to have your ultimate well-being at heart. Never mind the feelings of hurt and betrayal. I am not saying that they love you less. But, they just might not understand you completely. After all, humans are frail and weak.  Love doesn’t make people smarter. In fact, I would bet on the opposite.

People who you can really trust and are emotionally secure enough to be open with are really hard to come by. They are the real friends and lucky are the ones who find such people. The rest are all friendships of convenience. Sometimes, I wonder what the sad people of the world would do if there weren’t shrinks or priests sitting inside wooden boxes who have promised themselves eternal hell if they spill the secrets…