Spend some time saying “I like you” – Avoiding Emotional Promiscuity Part I

Why is everyone in such a rush these days to express every emotion as it is being felt? Our technologically ‘advanced’ society has instant access to everything. It’s easy to blurt out a bunch of nonsense in an email, text or a Facebook message and hit that Send button without a second thought. But maybe we need to take that second, or third, or even fourth thought.

I’ve spent years trying to teach kids that if they don’t have something nice or encouraging to say, it might be better to keep it to themselves. If it’s not constructive, it’s not worth saying. But what if it’s positive AND destructive? I mean, what’s wrong with telling someone how much you care about them? A lot if it is ill timed, premature, out of place for the setting (you know, wrong place, wrong time…). This is true whether someone is a friend or a person you’re considering dating.

I have a visual for you to illustrate my point. Stop for a moment and gather some materials. Find two pieces of very differently colored construction paper and some glue. The two pieces of paper represent the two people entering a relationship. The glue represents intimacy. When two people are getting to know each other, they stand on their own, and even when they spend time together (put your papers together for a moment without the glue, then separate them) they are able to part one another’s company whole and healthy individuals. However, when we share deep parts of ourselves, we begin to enmesh ourselves in each other’s lives. At this point, take the glue and dab it on one corner of a piece of paper, then press them together. While it is still wet, you can pull them apart and have fairly minor damage, maybe some discoloration and dampness from the glue. The paper is forever changed, but still whole and useful.

Now spread some glue around one paper and press the other to it. Allow it to dry. This represents giving our whole selves to another, in this case emotionally (although this could also represent a physical relationship as well). When dry, pull the papers apart. This will not be easy to do. Do you notice how the paper tears, how some of one paper ends up on the other? The papers have bonded together and permanently left parts of themselves on the other. Repeat this with a completely different color paper. Can you see how this would completely change the composition of the original paper if you continued to do this?

This is exactly what happens when you share yourself with another person. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing in general, but it’s all too common to be too quick to reveal yourself and give your heart away, then when it doesn’t work out, move on to the next person and do it all over again. You leave bits of yourself behind and end up with scars, eventually no longer the whole and healthy person you started out to be. So go slowly, enjoy the moments of getting to know each other, and take your time. This is not a race, and you have your whole life ahead. You’ll have a much more stable and lasting relationship!

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