Ah, how easy it is for us to categorize people. It is, in some ways, an evolutionary trait that gives us the advantage of thinking more quickly. This means danger. That means safety. React quickly based on information presented at the surface, and keep yourself alive.
But problems arise when we attempt to live our lives based on generalizations. Especially when we try to build relationships while keeping these things in the back of our minds. Men are jerks. Women are crazy. Everyone seems to start behind the 8-ball.
The first thing that happens here is that the worst is automatically assumed.
Women: How often have you been approached by a man and immediately thought he was going to say something inappropriate? Why do you think this, and not “I wonder what interesting qualities he possesses that I have never encountered before?” Generalizations.
Men: How often have you seen a beautiful woman and immediately assumed she is going to have an attitude if you get anywhere near her because she is tired of being smothered by men – yet why not have the thought that perhaps the exact opposite is true because maybe no other guys approach her for this exact reason, either? Generalizations.
When we draw these conclusions with no evidence to back them up, it not only defines our perception of that person, but it changes how we act towards them. Women will have attitudes towards men for being jerks who are being jerks towards women because they have attitudes towards men because men are being jerks because women are…well, you get the idea.
The problem is that very few people take the initiative to break the cycle. We allow our instincts to get the best of us and justify our reasoning to ourselves. Good men don’t talk to the woman because she would have had an attitude anyway, and she continues to have an attitude because no man has proven to her that he is different than the rest.
Let’s be honest about this – just as many men have been hurt by women as the other way around. Maybe even more. There are plenty of good men out there who would want to commit to a woman, but she just wasn’t attracted to him. But women don’t think about those men. And men don’t think about the women they did the same exact thing to.
“There are no good people out there” needs to be adjusted to “I have not yet found a good person who I want to be with in return.” This simple change of wording provides a drastic shift in how we represent the state of the world to ourselves, and therefore how we act towards it.
Neither gender holds the monopoly on being a jerk, or on being crazy. Some women are jerks and some men are crazy. Some are neither. Some are both. It all depends on the person – but we will never learn that if we keep generalizing.
If we keep generalizing, we keep our walls up because we think we have it all figured out. But the truth is that while you are potentially keeping out people who will hurt you with those walls, you are also keeping out people who could make you happy. Good, kind, caring people are attracted to others who show the same qualities. If you are trying to shield yourself from pain, it can very easily come off as being cold, which will turn warm people away.
Each individual person who enters your life is just that – an individual person. A clean slate. Unrelated to anyone in your past. And they should be treated as such. As Jim Rohn famously said about life – “The same wind blows on us all.” In the context of this article we can adjust it to mean that the dating process is the same for each of us.
We all need to risk being hurt in order to find love. We all need to give someone the benefit of the doubt every now and then. We all need to adjust our sails the best we can to navigate the winds we are all experiencing.
We all need to stop assuming the worst about people. Everyone wants to be loved and to love in return. He might not be a jerk, and she might not be crazy – but you will never find that out if you don’t give them a chance.
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