Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Not All Men Are Jerks – Vanessa Tai

When a relationships sours or if you’ve been betrayed by someone you love, it’s easy to write off the entire opposite sex as callous jerks. But that’s just a one-way street to Bitter Town. Vanessa Tai suggests another way of viewing the situation.

As much as I love my friends, sometimes I hesitate to tell them about the problems I’m facing with whichever guy I’m dating. Why? Because of the inevitable judgment that will follow.

“He’s such a douchebag.”

“You’re better off without a jerk like him!”

And so on.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why they would say such things. They’re my good friends so they’ll naturally get affronted on my behalf when they feel I’ve been wronged by some guy. I, too, do the same when my girlfriends confide in me about their relationship problems. However, lately I’ve been wondering if this is really the best way to deal with relationship woes. Sure, if you’re all out to have a no-holds-barred sobfest with your best friends, it may help to have them rally around you and have a common “enemy” to hate on.

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But what happens when you’re alone in your bedroom late at night and mulling over the failed relationship? Will you also continue to stew in rage and resentment? Sadly, many people tend to fixate on these feelings of being wronged and this seeps into the way they interact with others. I’m sure you know of people who’ve been hurt badly in relationships and became cold, standoffish, or overly cynical as a result. In fact, I used to be one such person.

However, I’ve recently come to see the flaws in this line of thinking. When a relationship fails, it fails for a myriad of reasons and yes, it could even be because the person you were dating was careless with your feelings. Does that make him a bad person? Not really. If that were the case, aren’t we all guilty of being “bad” at one point or another? The thing is, I sincerely believe nobody (save for the truly callous or sociopathic) sets out to deliberately hurt another person. I believe most of us embark on a romantic relationship with the best of intentions. Nobody wakes up thinking, “Okay, I think I’m gonna hurt so-and-so today.”

It’s just that along the course of a relationship, Life gets in the way. It could be unresolved emotional baggage from the past, or it could be an unexpected situation that throws everything out of loop. The thing is, people are unpredictable, especially when it comes to love. Most people are just bumbling along, trying to figure things out as they go along, winging it and trying to make it all work out. So when they screw up and end up hurting you, it’s most likely unintentional. Nobody is perfect. We, too, have been guilty of hurting the people we love, despite our best intentions.

That said, people are responsible for their actions and should still be held accountable for whatever they choose to do (or not do) in a relationship. I’m definitely not advocating that we condone bad behaviour. However, there’s a difference between holding someone responsible for their actions and blaming someone. For the former, you’re simply recognising this is who they are and how they’re choosing to behave. If you don’t like it, the choice is yours to cut them out of your life.

When you blame someone for their bad behaviour, however, you’re dodging any responsibility of your own. When you blame someone, you’re essentially saying that just because you didn’t like how someone acted, you’re entitled to attack them however you please. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how destructive this line of thinking is. Instead of finding ways of improving the situation or even seeking out a way you can learn or grow from it, blaming the other person simply creates a breeding ground for resentment and bitterness.

I reckon a healthier way of dealing with feelings of betrayal (or abandonment, or any other horrible feelings that emerge from a breakup) is to carve out alone time to figure out what you learned from the whole experience. It’s important to figure out why things didn’t work in the past so you can make things work better in the present and future. It won’t be easy, for sure. There’ll be days where all you want to do is scream and cry or burn all his things. Yes, you can allow yourself a period of time to do that if it offers you some form of catharsis. But there comes a day where you have to pick yourself up from the floor and just let go of those feelings of hatred and animosity. Take it from me, there’s really no point holding on to those bitter feelings of being wronged. It will only serve to poison your future relationships and become a vicious self-fulfilling cycle.

Every relationship we embark on is different and deserves to be treated with equal fervour and guileless enthusiasm. Well, that’s what I choose to believe anyway!

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Vanessa Tai talks about navigating the often-confusing world of singledom. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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