Sunday, September 24, 2006

More odd conversations with Evan

Evan periodically confesses something to me, although "confesses" is not the right word. He reports things to me. He reports that he does something that he knows I will find to be unethical. He seems to want to talk about it, and wants to defend it to me.

Okay, sometimes I am the initiator of the conversation.

Evan has owed me a little bit of money for a while and never remembers to pay. Yesterday after we shopped I told him that if he payed for our lunch we would be even (a terrific deal for him given that half of the money was going towards his own lunch and a fair deal for me because I would have paid for his otherwise). While we were eating I asked, "so how many guys are you seeing right now?"

He thought and said, "Only two."

I did not say anything and he volunteered, "Of course, it would not be okay for them to do that."

So we had a conversation about behaving in ways one would not tolerate in others. He attempted to defend it. He told me he only lied by omission, for instance. Of course nothing he gave as a defense was something that he would accept from someone else. Like all of our conversations about such things, it was light and even jovial. Someone at the next table might have thought we were talking about a movie we had both seen.

Later last evening he said that he was getting better telling each boy exactly what that boy wanted to hear. "It doesn't bother me at all. Do you think that's bad?" As the conversation continued he told me that it was okay because he could usually believe what he was saying in the moment, but that it was a little troubling because he gets confused and is not really sure about what he really believes and feels.

These conversations are disturbing, but probably healthy too. Evan seems to be genuinely uncertain about what I would think, or maybe that is not it. He must know what my position will be. I think he wants to hear the argument for it. He wants the rationale.

Our conversations could be scripts in a science fiction movie. The alien from the far off planet says, "Why do you speak truth even when it causes you pain?" The local tries to explain the nature of friendship or honesty and why she values it. "But would it not be simpler just to enjoy each person while you are with them, saying what makes you both happy in the moment, and then move on to the next moment?" The local struggles to explain the greater value of relationships grounded on trust, on what it means to know that the people you are with really know who you are and still want to be with you. She tries to explain why she thinks it is important to be honest even when doing so causes her pain. The alien is not certain that she is sane. The alien wonders how many other humans really think this way. Is this human somehow deviant?

Except that the alien sees why she would want other people to be honest with her. The alien would like for other people to give him what the alien does: acceptance and love even knowing his faults. He has come to enjoy it.

What he wants to know though is, does he really have to treat people that way in order to be treated the same? He knows, and knows well, that offering that treatment is risky. It does not guarantee comparable treatment back. In fact, among some from his home world it would invite very bad treatment. He would be the one tricked. Would it really be so wrong, he asks the strange local, if he continues to treat people in the way that comes naturally to him, while wanting them to treat him like the alien does? Perhaps it is better to play by his own rules. Is it not more likely that people will like him if he appears to be what they want him to be? He has always believed that that was the best way to secure the affections of others.

But he likes the idea of someone both knowing and liking him. That is attractive, but it means taking risk. He wonders, "Is it worth it?"


  1. He says the different stories he tells these boys don't bother him. Yet, he's telling you about it. I wonder if it does bother him or at least he believes it should bother him.

    He's struggling to find his conscience in relationships. It's no small task, and he has a long way to go, but I applaud his trying to find his way.

  2. This may be more a reflection of the male friends I have, but I think I've had that conversation with each of them at one point or another. As recently as three years ago, after being hurt too much and shutting down emotionally, I felt that way for a while too. I think it is more about Not Being Ready to be with someone but Wanting The Benefits/Being Lonely/Being Bored at the same time, and the easiest way to do that is to take your cues, make up who you are to suit your partner while you're with them, and then drop that version of yourself when you it is time to move on (for me, it was three weeks).

    It is selfish, it is immature, it is hurtful, but it is what it is, and eventually it stops being fun, at least in my experience and my friends' experiences, which lead to conversations like the one you've described. Conversations like yours and Evans, when they happen in my life, usually result in looking for that "good" partner a few months down the road. And, yes, coming out of that mindset is like landing on another planet, and you do need to figure out how "normal" people do things.

    From reading your posts for the last few months, I really really think that Evan is trying to figure out what normal is, if it is worth it, if it is even possible for him. I think he's trying to figure out as much as he can from you before he leaves.

  3. Thanks Margaret and Maerlowe...

    I think it is really good that he is having these conversations. I hope he does make good choices. I do.

    Thanks for the encouraging words.


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