As much as we like to walk around saying that we don’t care about what other people think or say about us…..we do. And even though the constant mantra of not caring what other people think sounds good to say, it is nothing more than a false sense of hubris and a manufactured sort of haughtiness that helps us to actually defend ourselves from and overcome the harsh criticisms of others. A better way to honestly speak to the issue of exterior criticisms is to say that, “I don’t really care about what other people say about me……that much”. And even if you find yourself in a position where you can handle critical words and speculative talk of the people around you as it pertains too your personal life and choices, it still does not mean that the people close to you are not affected. Especially the people that we date.
I think that as a defense mechanism through the years I have built up a tolerance to criticism. To people having speculative things to say or just have anything to say at all. But I have had to learn that I cannot entirely transfer that sort of attitude to the woman that I am dating. I have to be aware of how the things that I do are going to affect a woman. I know that as a guy I am very much aware of the perception that other men may or may not carry towards women. That being the case I have rightfully been accused of at times being a little rigid when it comes to my girlfriends wardrobe choices. Ok, ok, ok…… I can be a little controlling on the Joe Jackson-ish tip…………without the extension cord. And not because it bothers me to see a beautiful woman who I am dating is showing her skin, but because when other men see that it immediately draws their minds to sexual thoughts. Anytime a man sees a sexy photo of Niki Minaj or Trina they are immediately thinking of her in a sexual way. And the last things guys want to have floating through their minds is the idea that other people are thinking about blowing out the back of your girlfriend. It just makes a mans skin crawl. But…in the interest of fairness, I have learned to suppress the anxiety. At least, after we get out in public. But while I’m in the house I am definitely hiding dresses under seat cushions.
But for myself, I have had to learn to be more careful about my choices in hangout spots and company I keep. A lot of times people live to point the finger at other folks as being insecure and immature when they feel uncomfortable with the circumstances that people so seamlessly walk through. It doesn’t make a woman insecure to see her boyfriend surrounded by women hugging on him and giving seductive looks at the camera and feel a little twinge of disgust by such images. A small moment of uncertainty. Now of course that is not worth a woman flying off the handle and calling her boyfriend a cheater, but it is indeed worth her casually mentioning. And even more, it is important enough for him to give that some consideration the next time he steps into a party and encounters some old classmates, co-workers, old flames or whatever and they are feeling picture happy. There is a fine line between being insecure and just a little bothered by something at times.
Now none of the things that I have mentioned are in any egreegious water marks of deep seeded issues or problems in someone’s personality that makes them unfit to date. This is normal sort of stuff that people feel and that couples help each other through….or don’t. But the worst part of dealing with this sort of stuff is having the ever-present chirping of a friend’s opinion in your ear. The sound gets deafening from people. And while it can be internalized by the mindset that my friends are just concerned about my well-being, it becomes harder to silence when that son of a bitch that you can’t stand has something to say. As a man, I can admit to having to suppress my territorial nature at times. And allowing a thoughtful approach to dictate my actions. But the beast damn sure lives within me. And for me to see a man who I consider a personal “rival” in any sort of way takes a less than respectful picture of my lady it infuriates me. So, f I see a guy that is not one of my favorite people taking a picture with my girlfriend when she is in her tight red, short, Beyoncé freak-um dress, you had best believe that I am going to be pissed. And no amount of, “We were just all there and taking pictures. It’s not that big of a deal” sort of excuse is going to make me feel any better. All I know is that not only do I hate that mutha$%&*@, but all of my friends who know that we are adversaries get to click-through the Facebook albums and see you in a picture with him wearing that “I got Jackson’s Chick” look on his face. Because of course this prick made it the album cover picture! And now, even though I am trying to suppress the feelings of anxiety that I have, I can only do that but so much when my damn phone is blowing up with text messages. I cannot escape what other people are saying and thinking.
And what can I expect my girlfriend to say or think or feel when she sees me at lunch with an old co-worker that I dated. Who cares if it was two girlfriends ago and that I just happened to see her at my favorite lunch spot one day around noon time. I should have known better when I also saw my girlfriends 3 sorority sisters at another table. It doesn’t matter that those old relationships have been discussed and explained and devalued by comparison to what you are now involved in? Because at this point it is the embarrassment that she has to deal with. The explaining of a circumstance to her jaded girlfriends who already have a suspicious eye to every guy that they know. Getting rid of her girlfriends and painting the picture of them as bitter busy bodies could be a route to take but that is always a crap shoot. You are just better off treading a little bit more carefully in these circumstances because you just cannot get away from the pressure that people feel under the weight of other people’s words and perceptions.
We all have shoulders that are capable of baring some measure of weight. But how much that is, varies from person to person. So why can’t we just lighten the load a little bit for each other? How much….. is up to you. It is up to you to figure out what is you making to many concessions to deal with someone elses insecurities or how much you are willing to suppress your life or lifestyle to make someone else happy. But the understanding should be that, simply telling someone that they are insecure and shouldn’t be paying attention to what other people have to say is pretensions and smacks of the sort of selfishness that never helps a situation. Because if you really are the type of person that is totally unaffected by the words of the people around you then you are more than likely also the type of person who cannot even recognize or internalize when friends are trying to help you see that you are an asshole.