Boundaries in Relatability: Obligation Versus Honesty

This blog post is actually inspired by a conversation I had about 15 minutes ago. All of my blogs are automatically posted to my Twitter account. The inspiration for this blog follows my Twitter ( I think) so they may or may not read this. If they do: Thank you for the inspiration.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in the last ten years is that your life experience may not allow a person to relate and/or be empathetic to others’ life experience. Hence, my life experience may not allow me to relate, understand or empathize with every epithet of your life experience.

For context purposes, let me lay out the two types of relatability/empathy:

1. Similar life path empathy/relatability: A similar life path means a person has had a similar experience as you and as a result they can relate and empathize with what you may feel and experience.

2. Logical connection empathy/relatability: Logical connection means that a person may not have had a similar experience, but they can understand how your particular life experience may affect you. For example: let’s say a person you know has lost a parent. You never lost a parent but you went through a foreclosure on a home or an eviction from an apartment. Although you never lost a parent, you can understand how losing a parent would be tough because you have been through a loss before. Although it is not the same, you can understand and empathize with loss. Another example is when you have never lost a parent but the thought of you losing a parent invokes feelings of loss. That hypothetical feeling one experiences allows one to understand what that person may feel although you never experienced it yourself. As a result you can empathize with that person, even if you cannot necessarily relate.

There are some experiences in life that you cannot relate to or empathize with. Personally for me, if I can’t empathize and or relate to an experience, I am going to check out mentally. I personally do not believe that you have to entertain an experience just because someone is a friend. To be honest, I think it does people a disservice to entertain experiences you cannot relate to and/or empathize with.

Let’s be honest: How many times have you sat through a friend talking about something they are going through and you totally did not give a damn and you were only listening because you considered that person a friend?

You are listening to a friend out of obligation and that obligation is disingenuous because deep down YOU REALLY DON’T CARE. Why be disingenuous when you can be honest?

I have been through A LOT in my life. Over the years, I have experience friends listening to me and my woes out of obligation. I could tell they way they responded that they could not relate or empathize-they appeased me out of friendship and I HATED IT. I had built up resentment for years. I vowed I would be honest and NOT operate with people from a obligatory space.

The way I operate is considered self centered and fucked up. Honestly, I understand why someone would feel that way. I own and accept who I am-ALL of who I am. When you accept yourself, the consequences are than someone else may see parts of who you are as unsavory.

We all have rights when it comes to relationships, platonic and otherwise. I understand that someone may distance themselves because my code of ethics don’t align with their code.

This is the deal: I rather be genuine and perceived as fucked up then disingenuous and dishonest. When I engage with someone, I always want it to be from a genuine place. If I cannot relate or empathize with something another person may experience, I want to give them the space to make an informed choice on what they will share and it gives me the space to always operate in an genuine space without obligation. When I am engaged in hearing another’s experience, that person will always know that my responses and interaction is from a sincere place. They never have to worry about whether I give a damn because I already shared with you what my relatability/empathy boundaries are. You know whether or not I can connect to your experience.

Hey-it is what it is. I value honesty over sacrifice and obligation. Some may perceive me as a bad friend. I perceive myself as a great friend because you know EXACTLY what you get, and when you get it you don’t have to question whether it is genuine.

The End.