Have you ever met or dated someone who has openly admitted to feeling inferior to you in some way? A couple weeks ago I had a strange interaction with someone that I dated for a very brief amount of time late last year. We were talking about being friends despite our differences and seeing if that could work since dating simply wouldn’t. Somehow during our conversation we stumbled onto one of the main reasons that a relationship wasn’t possible between the two of us: his feelings of inferiority in my presence.
Like most people I felt bad for a moment; I felt bad because I never wanted to make someone feel like less than me either directly or indirectly because I don’t generally view the world in terms of levels where any one person is above another. Yes, some of us may have very different circumstances, but that does not determine worth in my eyes and to think of the world in levels is to needlessly separate ourselves from others.
I was ready to tell him that I never meant to make him feel that way and that by inadvertently doing so I felt badly about it. I probably would have even apologized for it had he not cut me off and taken the conversation in a direction that still leaves me in awe. I tried to calmly explain that nobody could make him feel inferior without his permission and that it’s an individual issue of worth that we all have to deal with on our own at some point. Before I could say anything else he jumped down my throat because he was under the assumption that I “never thought to apologize” to him for it. He then told me that the number one key to a successful relationship is being able to work with someone else’s problems and helping that person with said problems. If you’re anything like me you probably have the same thought running through your mind right now: da fuq you talking about?
What left me in awe about the interaction was the very clear notion that to him a “real” relationship consisted of emotional support teetering on a crutch to keep him upright and his unspoken desire for me to dull myself down to make him feel at ease. Being the direct person that I am, I said the following: Emotional support is one thing. Needing someone else to consistently lean on because you can’t stand on your own feet emotionally is something else entirely.
When did it become okay to rely on somebody so much that without that person you can’t even stand on your own two feet? When did your personal feelings of inferiority become something that I have to deal with because your self-worth is clearly lacking? Maybe this sounds harsh to some of you, but the reality is that if you cannot emotionally support yourself, how can you ever expect to be in a functional relationship? This is especially true when you think about how a relationship should function. It should be balanced and emotional support should go both ways. If one person consistently uses the other as a crutch, however, there is no balance to be found. Furthermore if the relationship doesn’t end, it will surely breed resentment. Either way it’s a failure.
The sad part about all of this is that he’s not the only person with this mindset. So many couples today are teetering on a very rocky foundation where emotional support is only going one way without any reciprocity. We have people who need others in ways that they shouldn’t. In my mind this foundation is the reason behind most failed relationships and it seems like it’s becoming even more prevalent these days.
All I can say is that I’m not a crutch. Yes, I care. Yes, I will be there if you need me. But you have another thing coming if you think that your issues of self-worth are mine to deal with. We all have problems. If you can’t emotionally support yourself, you have no right to be in a relationship with someone else. You are not only being unfair to that other person, but you are setting yourself and your relationship up for failure.
Obviously I’d like to know what other people think about this. Is this view too harsh? Or is it dead on? You decide.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry