I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
We had been talking for an intense twenty minutes. It was short ride, and I looked down at the map on my phone and noticed that we were only about five minutes away from her destination.
“So, if you only had one thing to tell me about relationships and dating and break-ups, what would it be?”
I had been asked that question dozens of times before and each time I fumble around my words. The thing is, I almost feel obligated to bestow some sage advice. I mean, after I make the claim of one thousand first dates, you would think that I would have gained one solid piece of advice that I can drop in a few minutes on a mildly tipsy 20-something desperate for answers.
“Almost exclusively, the problems we face in any relationship dynamic be it brother/sister, parents/kids, wife/husband, teacher/student, boyfriend/girlfriend, is that they all stem from feeling like we are being treated unfairly. Whether you agree with their claim or not is irrelevant. The most important piece of knowledge I have gained is understanding just that. As in, truly internalizing that the person I have upset or offended believes I have treated them unfairly in some manner.
When you realize that the person sitting across from you, on the other side of a screen, or a room away is upset with you because they think you have disrespected them in some way, it will inevitably change the way you interact with them. It changes the way you argue, the way you touch, the way you reason. It changes YOU for the better.”
“So what you’re saying is that the greatest bit of advice you gained was about you?” She asked.
“Yes.” I said, “The greatest thing you can learn is how to treat people better and in turn, will magnetize more respectful people to you.”
“I never thought about it that way.” She said as we pulled up in front of her apartment building.
“I heard a saying that it’s impossible to hate someone if you know their story. Similarly, when you know that a person is upset because they feel like they’re being treated unfairly, you will immediately treat them differently than if you didn’t have that knowledge.” I asked, “How many times have you gotten into an argument only to apologize the next day for the shitty way you acted?”
“All the time.”
“And even when you’re right, oftentimes you will regret the way you handled it.” I said, “So when you understand that someone feels like they’re being treated unfairly, it helps to seriously reduce the likelihood of you acting a fool. Because you will subconsciously do your best to minimize making them feel like they’re being treated unfairly even more. Does that make sense?”
“I feel like I should pay you.” She laughed.
“Because if you truly love someone, you care about their feelings. And if you care about their feelings, you want to understand them. And the only way to care and understand someone’s feelings is to do your best to be fair.”
She got out of the car and shut the door and said, “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome.” I said, “And hey, just try to remember to be careful. That’s all.”