Can't Versus Don't

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This past week, I flew home to attend the wedding of a pair of high school buddies. It was a small, simple, quaint and quirky occasion, but for the happy couple in question, it couldn't have been more appropriate.

While in college, I flew home fairly regularly for holiday breaks and other necessary occasions. I would stay for a few days, hang out with my parents, go out with the gays a couple times, but I haven't spent a lot of time with my high school friends since graduation. It isn't that they aren't lovely people, but my hometown in West Michigan is on the conservative side, and many of my friends in high school were deeply religious. Meanwhile, once I moved to New York City, I picked up the hobbies of alcohol, profanity, and quasi-casual sex. Although I rarely let outside opinions affect me, I was a bit worried that they would have some things to say about my evolved lifestyle.

Well, in the end, they either didn't care or haven't checked my Facebook profile in five years, but we got along just as well as we had the day of our graduation, if not better.

After we sat down to eat, a few of us were discussing our own love lives, or lack thereof. Only a handful from my clique are actually married at this point, but the gradually increasing number can be threatening to some (I, the homosexual, personally couldn't give two shits).

On this topic, one particular friend elaborated on her poor luck with men, and punctuated her point with the classic philosophy, "Guys are jerks." To this, another friend, the token Republican of the group (I know, right?), replied, "My theory is more that these men are incompetent, not so much that
they are malicious."

I giggled at his unchanged habit of using unnecessarily big words, but I couldn't deny that he had a point - a simple one, but complex at the same time. I, of course, have had plenty of unpleasant experiences with men, but only the ones I've truly cared about have affected me in the long run. There was one boy I dated two summers ago whom I would say probably did not have my best interests, or my interests at all, in mind. He would have been considered manipulative if I was not already on my toes and manipulated him right back. But while I have been hurt by several since then, I would never say that I think any of them meant to hurt me. I would place most of them on various levels of ignorance or carelessness, and the rest under "just not that into me"

However, given this alternative light on the subject, it still doesn't change the fact that humans of all kinds have left others with damaged emotions. So now, the question is, what do we do about this? How do we avoid being both 'malicious' AND 'incompetent'?

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