Dec 28, 2004

Sometimes, no answer is your answer

(Yes another post inspired by He’s Just Not That Into You" and subsequent conversations with a good friend of mine)

“Do I look fat?”
“Was he better than me?”
“Do you love me?” (more often than not phrased as “I love you”)
Questions questions questions.
Most questions have answers.
And, the way I see it: people are apt to feel insecure at times, and are bound to ask questions that are actually prompts, and it’s probably best, if it doesn’t happen too often, to just grant them the validation and pick the obvious winner.
No, she doesn’t look fat. No, nobody is better than him in the sack, and yes…yes…a thousand times, yes, your love is eternal.
Sometimes we all face questions in which we know the right answer and the wrong answer. Sometimes we, ourselves, ask those questions. It’s silly, but its common and in the name of reciprocal relationship idiocy, and kindness we buck up and do our duty. No harm, no foul.
But sometimes we are asked questions, or ask questions that have no right answer. Or, at least no right answer apt to be the truth in a thousand years.
For example, the question: why did you never call again?
What is the right answer to that? I mean, sure there is a chance in hell the person is truly curious and on some self discovery kick and wants to hear “because I just don’t like you and here is why.” But probably not, right? And sure there is SORT OF a right answer if you want to please them, some permutation of “because I got too busy” or “because I COULDN’T”
But what if you dated for a month, said you loved the person and then just never called again…what is the right answer then. What is THEIR answer? The excuse good enough to appease and suffice and make you look good and sympathetic and take away whatever demons they are carying around that would make them ask such a prideless and pointless questions? “I was in a Turkish Prison that did not allow phone calls and every moment I thought of you, I just got out ten minutes ago, I missed you like mad?”
Come on. Listen, my point is: sometimes we ask questions that are really really stupid or crazy or unfair. Not stupid because the answer is so obvious, or crazy because they are bound to illicit an unpleasant conversation or unfair because they are confusing. But stupid and crazy and unfair because we are looking for an answer that is “our” answer…the elusive solution to whatever dilemma that is driving you nuts or upsetting you but only really can be resolved by coming to peace with the situation through yourself. And no other answer will do. And sometimes we, ourselves, don’t even know and can not imagine what it is that we hope someone will say to make things make more sense or the big bad go away. We just want to hear it. And as fucked up as this is for the querier, it’s also whacked for the person being asked: I mean, sure they might have done something dishonorable or bizarre to end up in the situation, but in the end they are really being asked to lie, and live creatively at that, and usually they are being emotionally bullied in the process, because face it, nobody likes to see another person get more upset.

And really, we can do nothing about ensuring that we aren’t asked such questions. All we can do is answer them as kindly and honestly is possible so as to end the insanity.

But we can make effort to not search for unreasonable, unpredictable answers or validations in others. To not put people we like or respect in the position of feeling they must lie or fish around for an unlikely solution to get out of an uncomfortable situation. We can endeavor to ask difficult questions for the sole purpose of discovering the honest answer. And we can ask ourselves first: am I ok, with not liking the answer? We can exercise some control over our own discomfort so as to make communication effective. And most importantly: we can understand that questions are an important part of communication, but should, like all communication, be used wisely, to come to a solution, not entrap or delude or confuse or manipulate the person you are with.

So yeah, ask me if those jeans make you look fat or if that looks like ten inches. What a relief. Hell, I know that answer.

But do yourself a favor and learn to live with the truth before you pursue an answer that just does not exist.

1 comment:

cordelia said...

I came across this today. I do not really remember reading it before. Today it is very helpful.