Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cruel To Be Kind

Here’s the scenario. You like this guy, and he tells you he likes you too. What’s more, after going out with him several times, he reveals that he has fallen hard for you. But after getting to know each other more, the two of you realize that, despite the obvious and genuine attraction to one another, you two cannot be boyfriends. So the two of you agree that you’re better off as friends.

Now here’s the question. You know the other guy is so into you. Will you continue to see him and engage him in activities? Or will you, of your own volition, step back and give him the space he needs?

Speaking from painful but earned experience, I have been in the position of “the other guy” for so many times in the past, I’ve actually turned unrequited love into an art form. My mind was helpless once my heart took over. The option of moving on was unthinkable, so my mind made creative logic leaps to justify hanging on. Believe me, the mind is great at making sensible the impractical. (After all, Love is not practical.) So I knew what it was like to be the one carrying the torch. And I was so skilled in finding ways to keep the fire burning. It took me years to realize was that I was the one being consumed by the flames.

So when I graduated from being the unrequited lover-slash-fool that I was, I vowed that I would learn detachment. The back-to-back-to-back deaths of my grandmother, my younger brother, and my best friend from grade school helped instill in me the value of letting go.

As for me, it only happened once before that I was in the position of rejecting someone. (I’m not that desirable, so sue me.) I went out with someone who lived all the way somewhere down South. I slept over at his place almost every other weekend for about 2 or so months. But when it became clear to me that I was more in love with the travel and the provincial air than him, I knew it was time to lower the boom. I made it as definitive as I could. One can’t make it painless, but one can lessen the pain by being more decisive. That way, the other can see that you’ve made up your mind and is moving on without him. The clearer it is for him, the earlier he’ll be forced to accept the facts and move on.

So for those of you who have to break-it-to-him-gently, gentleness is a firm “No.” And part of that is allowing physical and emotional space between you two. How to achieve physical space will depend on your circumstances; that’s why there’s a saying, “Never shit in your own yard.”

How to achieve emotional space is a little trickier. The key is to air out all the issues between the two of you so that both of you can achieve emotional closure. But in practical terms, airing out the issues will take time, and the other person may continue to return and dwell on an issue even after it’s been discussed to death. A firm decision, wrapped in patience and kindness, will help you get through the process of emotional closure.

If he pleads and begs that you don’t leave him, that he want the two of you to be friends, tell him: “It’s not possible to be friends while you still have feelings for me. Come back to me when you’re over me, then we’ll see.” Of course there’s a possibility that you two will end up as just acquaintances, and that’s okay. You already have friends.

Remember this: You have the upper hand. You are not as emotionally invested (and hooked) as the other guy. Until he’s over you, you are more in control of things than he is; in fact, he has effectively turned over the controls of his life to you. So you have to be the one to decide for the both of you. You have to be the mature one. More importantly, you have to be the kind one. Because you two are in this tangled weave together, but you are in a much better position to untangle one another. If you can’t (or you won’t), well, then,  good luck to the both of you.

Nick Lowe’s song goes, “You got to be / cruel to be kind / in the right measure.” What is cruelty in the eyes of the other is kindness to you. What is cruelty now is kindness in the future, when the dust has finally settled.


Mac Callister said...

Mahirap to! And i dont want to be cruel haha but i dont wanna be the one madly inlove inlove either!

Ronnie said...

Love this entry, Sir Joel. Definitely one of my faves.

Oh, thanks for the advice. We'll surely master 'em lol.

JapaneseAdobo said...

ouch! i think i can relate to the position of the other guy's guy... lol... sakit nitong entry mo. tagos... lol