Friday, July 30, 2010

Familiarity Breeds Contempt.


First things first: to those of you who are sick of the advertising via Omegle and MysterySeeker...I apologize for making you upset, but those are really the only ways to advertise for free. Someone on MysterySeeker today was directing vague hate messages at me today. Awkward and kind of sad.

To those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, all I do is post the URL and a tagline like "for something new" or "for something different," etc. Just getting the word out. No harm in that. I think.

All right, here we go. On the subject(s) of familiarity and contempt.

It's funny that I'm writing about familiarity, I am, writing anonymously, to a bunch of (mostly) anonymous readers. Gotta love the situational irony.

Look at it this way: the more you know someone, the more you love them, and the less you like them.

Think about it.

It's not always true. Sometimes you get to know someone, realize you are completely incompatible, and sever the ties. But, for the most part, the closer you get to someone, the more you realize that you can fuel a relationship based solely on the fact of the relationship's existence. Sure, you might have a lot in common with this person, but...there's at least 6,697,254,041 people in the world. (That was 2008. It's still rising, of course.) At least one other person in the world probably shares your interests. So why do you spend the bulk of your time with people with whom you might disagree...a lot?

(Side note: to find someone registered in the U.S. Bureau of Census (or something like that), go to 1,451,698 people in America have my first name...and only 99.9% are female. Hmm... .1% of American mothers were disappointed to have given birth to a boy. Fewer that 115 people in the country have my last name...and I think I'm Facebook friends with all of them.)

I'm no expert, but I'd say it's the contempt factor. (Contempt: lack of respect or reverence for something.) Successful relationships are founded on respect, yes? If you disagree with someone close to you, but you respect his or her side of the argument, you're all set. If you're listening to the argument with imaginary fingers in your ears and a constant mantra in your head of "that's wrong, you nincompoop, that's wrong," (or worse...not listening at all and saying that out loud) chances are you're tearing your bond to pieces.

That makes sense, doesn't it? Well, there are more subtle types of contempt. You might not even recognize that you are contemptuous of someone. It happens every day.

I just read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, and he wrote about a study done on married couples. This scientist/psychologist took video of couples talking about something relevant to their marriage, but not the marriage itself. For example, the pet dog, or the electric bill, or the overall lifestyle. A couple could look completely compatible, but this psychologist could watch just a few seconds and tell you that they wouldn't last a year. It came down to the single most destructive emotion present in a relationship. And what is that? Say it with me: contempt.

The most obvious sign of contempt is probably the eye-roll. You might think you roll your eyes in a playful way, but think about the reasoning behind it next time you start to shoot your gaze heavenward. We do it too much, without realizing its destructive consequences.

Why are we such a contemptuous people? And why analyze contempt among married couples, and not just random people off the street?

It's all about familiarity.

The more familiar you are with someone, the more reasons you have to be contemptuous. The average person will marry someone they know very well, and love very much. Others are like the characters in "The Proposal." (Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds...ahhhhmazing.) But we won't go into that.

So I guess what it all comes down to is respect...even if you know something about someone that might make them a lesser person in the eyes of many, don't let it strain your relationship(s). We're all guilty of contempt. (I'm smacking a giant imaginary inflatable gavel on my keyboard. Feel free to do the same, it's oddly satisfying.) Let's try to be less critical and more complimentary. It'll do the world wonders. (All that awesome alliteration! Good grief. I'm incorrigible.)

Like you for always,
Aretha Poisenoke.
(In response to a comment on the last entry. This is the first name that came to mind. Do you get it? I know, I should do stand-up or something. Hardy har har.)

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