As a child of the ‘80s, I loved it when relationships were about handwritten letters, Archies gift cards, friendship bracelets and a different coloured rose for every relationship. It was all so simple, where I didn’t have to decode an emoticon to understand the tone of the person, all I had to do was look up and see what they actually meant. Emoticons have replaced real expressions and WhatsApp ‘last seen’ has replaced when you last met the person.
A very concerned person recently advised me, “If you want your relationships to work, you have to be the one who cared less.” Another said, “Don’t let the other person know what exactly you feel, they will take advantage of your feelings.” The latest advice was, “You should always have the upper hand in all your relationships, otherwise you will lose every time.”
I understand the sense of self-preservation that all these people were talking about, but what I don’t understand is, why do I have to compete with someone I’ve fallen in love with? Why should I weigh who cared more and who didn’t give a damn? How does it matter who said ‘I love you’ first?
This got me thinking, are all my relationships going to be a power struggle all my life? Where I am just filtering information so that the other person cannot figure out what goes on inside me?
Then how are my relationships different from my business deals?
Caring less is definitely appealing; you feel far more secure if someone needs you or wants you more than you need/want them. I’m sure it must be quite satisfying to have the upper hand in a relationship, but is it really the sort of satisfaction you’d want out of a relationship?
There’s always a power struggle between two people, but if a couple of lionesses can live in harmony, surely as humans we can do better. Why do we need to complicate things until the only option that remains is ‘quitting’? Why do we have to wait 15 minutes if the person took 10 minutes to respond to our texts? Why do we pretend to be ‘hard to get’ when we know what the other person feels for us?
Nobody wants to be at the receiving end of unanswered texts or cancelled plans, to feel unloved or loved less than they love others. However, we must show what we feel, not remain a saint while we calculate the other’s sins; it is bound to become an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship then.
Don’t miss out on something exciting because being aloof feels more ‘safe’. Let your guard down; not everyone is willing to tear down your walls. Not everyone will understand your defences. But if you continue to pretend you don’t care, people will eventually start to believe you.
Instead, wouldn’t it be nice to wear your heart on your sleeve, to show if you’re excited, happy or sad? Not to banish your emotions because of some societal norm? It’s scary as hell, but honest.
Not everyone is a fan of being an open book and I wasn’t, either. I thought I’d look too clingy, someone who needs too much attention and then end up being the poor soul who cared too much. But self-pity and sympathy are much more scarier and addictive than being out there is.
We’ve grown up with so many social inhibitions that we’ve almost forgotten to understand the wonderful world of feelings. We’ve been taught to believe that caring translates to desperation. We read the texts we have been waiting all day long for on the notifications screen and then wait to respond. Why wait in the first place?
Yes, it’s scary to show what we really feel, but if we take this first step, the rest is a journey worth experiencing. And if it doesn’t work out, that person was never meant for us anyway. It is probably time we show our true selves. Don’t be aloof or distant, be the refreshing and unabashed personality that you are.
Don’t waste your time comparing who cared more, because you decided to be with the person; now if you compete you will defeat the purpose and eventually you would both lose. So, do more. Care more. The person who doesn’t appreciate you doesn’t deserve to be in your life in any case.