Maintain Safe Distance

I lost a friend once. I had asked her for advice related to a guy who was a little younger than me and wanted me to be his girlfriend. She told me to not go for it. The guy was very sweet and good to me–my reasons actually are immaterial to anyone else, or they should be–so I still did, and she stopped talking to me, saying, “If you didn’t want to take my advice, why did you ask me?!” Aren’t we free to make our decisions even if the entire world tells us to act otherwise? Are we obliged to do what someone else says we should just because we asked them what they think of it? What about the people who offer their opinions, unsolicited, and don’t stop voicing them? Or those who cannot stop talking about the cracks they see in your relationships? Their perspective on it is that of an outsider.

The truth is no one really knows a relationship besides the people inside it. Have you ever wondered why that couple that always seems to argue still stays together? Or why your favourite couple, the one you thought was so strong, is breaking up? You’ll never really know. And even if you know, maybe you won’t understand. Only the people forming the relationship will know the true reasons they don’t let go of each other or can’t stand each other anymore. Only they will be able to understand why they’re inseparable or why they’re separating. Maybe you will never understand the emotional chemistry between them, or the reasons they’re drawn to each other, or the lack thereof. There’s isn’t much sense in analysing relationships you aren’t a part of. It’s very likely that nothing will come of it. You won’t discover the truth behind it and all you will have is speculation.

Then again, why are you so interested in their life? And if you are curious enough about their reasons, talk to the involved people about it. Perhaps this is a family member you’re trying really hard to understand, to know what to think and what to make of their activities. If it’s bothering you and affecting your life, talk to them. Otherwise, leave it alone. You have to let them take care of their relationship their own way. There are feelings and pasts and histories and emotions which cannot be explained to you. There are fine, intricate details which you cannot see, and which maybe even they aren’t consciously aware of. Let go of their relationship. Don’t try to understand it. You aren’t a part of it, so you probably won’t. Remember, with respect to that relationship, you are an outsider.

But if it’s a friend, then at what point must you, as a friend, draw the line? At what point do you cross it? Is it when you keep telling them the person they’re in a relationship with isn’t worth it? Or is it when you have a million opinions on how your friend should spend time with the person? There’s no denying that sometimes that reality check is needed. Sometimes the people involved are in so deep that they cannot see their dysfunctional relationship for what it is. But sometimes, if you’re a true friend, you’ll see that they are happy with what they share. It’s so easy to judge them by what it looks like to you who’s on the sidelines. But you don’t know their story. A friend summarised it in six easy words last night: You won’t understand, you weren’t there.

3 thoughts on “Maintain Safe Distance

  1. Friends will always try to understand you; one has to recognize and differentiate between “friends” and people you may know and even spend time with, but who are really not “friends”. Friends stand by your heart and will at least try to understand your actions, even when they disagree with them. They will support you and be there for you when you are hurt and when you are happy, that’s what friendship is. You may not see them for days on end but you know they will be there when you need them. True friendship is rare to come back, and when it does your heart will know.

    1. You’re right, and basically people in general–friends, family, acquaintances–try too hard to analyse relationships they aren’t part of. But the truth is, unless they’ve been through similar circumstances, it’s usually impossible for them to understand the intricacies and it makes them too opinionated and judgmental too. The people who don’t even try to understand us are the ones with whom we have to reconsider our relationships.

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