Relationships and hypocrisy

Masks on a table

If one thing is hard in this life is to have a real connection to another human being. I’m not talking about significant others, romantically, but any kind of connection, to be real, fulfilling. Some people call that to have a “good relationship”. Having a good relationship not only means that both are comfortable with each other and that stuff, but that you both trust each other, help each other when in need and so on.

Feels like too much? I’m going to guess your best relationship is a good one, a very good one, and I will ask you to think about your best friend, significant other, or family member who’s closest to you (mix them all, as there are no distinctions here). Do you help that person when he or she needs it? Does she or he help you when you need it? Do you trust each other? Do you fight regularly? Most of the time or barely ever? If the latter, do you feel like you need the fight or the discussion? Is it an open relationship (in matters of no secrets and hidden feelings)?

People are weird, and that’s something I learned even before elementary school, only to be proved right every single day until now. People around me is weird, to me, as I just don’t understand them. I can’t know how they think or what they are thinking, even when I know the person for years; surprises might come along. Even when their behavior is “normal”, predicting an action is just as much improbable as to be able to control it.

The unknown is weird

As I’m not unknown to myself, I’m not weird (being both things not even totally true). So while other people really do feel weird to me, I forget the fact that I feel weird to them. They can’t follow my actions like I do, because I do them, and not other people. The don’t think inside my head, but inside theirs, so no one really gets in here.

And yet sometimes, someone seems to have broke through, or had a glimpse of what’s going on, or what’s coming, and they tell you, and you get shocked. Why? Because you and only you know what you’re doing and about to do; they don’t, and yet, they got it right. How? They know you, it seems. Statistics tells you at some point this would happen, someone would see through you for a second and know what you’re thinking. For some it might be scary, for others, a moment of happiness, but for the one who saw, just happiness (or pride) from being able to decipher (even if it was just luck, chance) another person’s actions.

People change, so knowing them becomes harder (if possible)

People change, that’s a fact for me. Others think otherwise. I do think people change, in a regular basis. It doesn’t mean that people change for good, it just means their thoughts, but mostly their actions, change. Personality and belief are harder to be changed through time, at least after being set right into one’s mind; a “regular” teenager has it hard to stay the same, as beliefs and moral don’t exist in practice (curious, as I just read something about teenagers being “followers” by nature), and yet an adult do have moral and beliefs well established (even them subject to change due to traumas or in a long term transformation).

In a way, this tells us that starting to know someone at one point makes a “first impression” be key; not really the first encounter, but the first “stage”: Imagine the first months of the relationship where you get to know who this people gets along with, what are his or her likes, among other things that will be “written in stone” in your memory and “relationship database”. That is, after a while of treating someone, you start to “know them”, which is an illusion of actually knowing the insides of that person. In reality, you know that at some point he or she liked ice cream, that she or he believed in honesty more than anything, and so on… It doesn’t mean they don’t anymore, but it doesn’t mean they still do, either.

Because we change, along with the relationship itself

Not only I believe humans can change internally, as to what they tend to do and think, as to what they believe in. I also believe the relationship can change; that is, the way one treats the other: The way A talks to B, the way A helps B, the way A behaves around B, and the other way around (B -> A). If you think about it it’s obvious. You’re not born friends, for example. You started to get closer, started joking a little bit, and after some time you started calling each other friends, the relationship was changing. How it happened? Most people don’t bother to ask themselves, or the other person.

At one point, that constructed friendship crashes against a tree, another ship, or anything bad happens. A fight, a discussion. It puts in danger the bond between the two. In some cases, there’s even a breaking point, in which you stop being friends at all. My question is, how could that ever happen in the first place? Weren’t they supposed to be friends? What’s friendship? Even following the trusting and liking rules, how could that happen? The only simple explanation is that one or both changed, and that pissed the other off (or they were just set apart).

But did they change? Or was it just the way they treat each other?

People is just person plus person plus person…

Other people is not always just “other people”, as most would like it to be. Not everybody is the same, not even in groups people is the same to one another. A person is never the same to another person, in thoughts, physics, actions, beliefs… And as so, not everybody sees the world as you see it. That being so, you need to think about people individually to fully understand (“fully” being a bad joke) others.

What does this matter? Because like it or not, we all treat different people as… different people. We don’t treat friends the same, even if we think and believe we do, we don’t. Unconsciously we know the difference and we know, or at least believe there are different behavior, actions, thoughts, words, allowed according to who you’re with.

In short: We are all hypocrites.

But instead of blaming yourself, understand that this use of the word is slightly wrong. Being an hypocrite is to act different from claimed moral, beliefs. What I claim here is that we all behave different depending on the situation. It’s something natural, and accepted if one’s actions are “supposed to be”, like acting formal in a formal reunion, and yet it’s not accepted when you talk to a “friend” in some way you don’t talk to another “friend” (to put both in the same status relative to the subject). It’s mostly not what you talk, but the way you talk, the way you behave.

Who’s the real you? The one who has fun in some way with some group of friends, or the one who has fun in a different way with other friends? That’s hypocrisy, I believe, to pretend. But are we really pretending? Or are we always acting? Is there a way, or a moment, or a person that can let us be ourselves? Or is it that society has taught us not to? Well, how self-destructive is society, then!

Relationship-building are ruined by social masks

Because that’s what they are, masks. Everytime we go out we choose an appropriate mask, depending on who you’re going to meet with, just to please everyone. Or is it to please yourself? Why are you someone you’re not while away? Or why is this you from outside not part of you from inside? Your relationships are at risk, for the simple fact that you’ll treat different a “new friend” than a “formal friend”, but most importantly, because you’ll behave different. It won’t be you the problem directly, but your image in their heads. The fake image you made them create of yourself. The image that time in the future you will by yourself prove wrong without noticing. The friend of your will notice. The mask, the reality, the confusion.

Put on a mask. It’s what we all do. Just try to choose right on when to put it off. Don’t make it too late, or damage will be done. Don’t try to leave it forever, or the construction will be stopped. How many masks do you recognize on your face right now? Today? In this week?

Photo by Joe Penniston.

4 Thoughts

  1. Hmm… I really didn’t know where you were going with this at first, but I ended up liking the idea. Is being formal at a formal event vs being informal at a casual gathering wearing a mask though? Or it it ok as the situation is influencing everyone’s behavior, so it’s understandable?

    • It’s ok, as social conventions say so. Is it ok for you to wear a mask? Is acting casual at some point and formal at another equal to using a mask? Or are you and everybody else a little more complex, being able to be yourself at both gatherings? Think about when are you being someone you’re not.

  2. Julia says:

    I always hate to get too close to someone and believe “I know him”, and then be proved wrong. My solution has always been not to get close to anyone… But it doesn’t always work… I like to… Even if it hurts… Because it does…

    • I understand that feeling. We naturally need to establish connections with other people. It’s a natural rule for humans to need to interact with someone. You can shut down connections, but you can’t simply convince yourself every connection is bad for you. Is not that it is true or not, but that you won’t ever believe it, really.

      My advise is to get the best from every relationship and work your way to maintain a healthy and amusing relationship with someone. On the other hand, don’t be the only one trying to maintain it: It’s the worse case of unhealthy relationship.

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