Human relationships make the world go round. Psychology teaches us that interaction with fellow homosapians (or for all you crazy cat ladies out there, mammals) is essential for well-being and good mental health. Social interaction is unbelievably complex; women are said to never say what they mean and men never mean what they say, people pretend to dislike you so someone else likes them, a boy and a girl who call themselves friends apparently always have secret feelings for one another because lord forbid a penis and vagina being in such close proximity so often would ever lead to anything other than sex. We’ve been interacting with other people for so long you’d assume we’d have it all sussed out by now, yet communication breakdown seems to be the number one reason for relationship failures.
Imagine a world where everyone was open and honest all the time. I believe I am quite an open person – which fairs well with my male relationships and not so well with the female ones. If I want the last slice of pizza I will duel to the death in order to claim it. I don’t do so well with the girly pleasantries of “you can have it”, “oh no, YOU can have it” unless I genuinely don’t want it. Unladylike, you say? If being unladylike means I can be honest and quit the faffing chuck me a Yorkie bar and be done with it. Although I have yet to perfect this technique, I consciously try to be as open and honest as possible. I’ve seen too many good things go bad in the past just because I can’t ever say what I actually mean.
I wish I could pretend this example I’m going to use is a hypothetical situation but embarrassingly I’ve been here with a guy I was sort-of-seeing. And don’t make a face like this is weird because I’m certain we’ve all visited Awkward Alley before at least once. The writing in green is what is being said and the writing in red is what is actually meant.
X: Do you want to hang out tomorrow?
Do you want to hang out tomorrow?
Y: Um, it’s up to you.
X: Well I don’t mind.
If you’re not bothered I’m not going to show I’m bothered.
Y: Well do you have anything else on?
You have nothing else on so why would you not see me? Is it my thighs?
X: No, just chilling.
I told you I have nothing else on tomorrow so why would you ask?
Y: Ok. If you fancy it just let me know.
We both know we’re going to hang out tomorrow but I’ll pretend like I don’t know that.
X: Alright, see you whenever.
Alright, see you tomorrow.
In an ideal world, wouldn’t that conversation have gone something like this?
X: Do you want to hang out tomorrow?
Y: Yeah that’d be nice.
X: Cool, pick you up at 9?
Y: Sounds good, bring lube.
The frustrating thing is that both parties know exactly what is going through the other person’s head (aka the writing in red), yet still both come out with what’s written in green. WHY?! And look, I do this all the time too. I’m not pretending to be some kind of revolutionary communicator. I am aware of this and try very hard not to do it but I am just as big a culprit as the rest of you. It’s almost as if we can’t help doing it. Once you become aware that the red writing is happening there’s all this blue writing scrolling across the bottom of the screen that is your mind saying “why are you saying that?” over and over. We’re constantly fighting an inner battle with ourselves, but I feel sorrier for those people in denial of the red writing. They don’t even realise they’re chatting bollocks; at least we accept we’re stupid.
If you sit and think too much about nothing anyone says making sense it really does feel like your brain is going to implode. So I shall leave you with this: a llama in a scarf.