I recently wrote about a friend who alienated another friend by saying weird, awkward jokes around her. If you believe I’m better than this, I definitely have been known to say something inappropriate, even if it wasn’t directed at my friends. I used to believe this was a result of some people being a little bit more proper or having a wider pole in their butt. Some people definitely are more accepting while others are less forgiving. Some people act in a certain manner around certain people to win favor or be amenable. Recently, my focus has shifted to the question of trust in all relationships. Certain people find inappropriate behavior as a breach of trust and what’s more in question is what is inappropriate.
When I lived in Los Angeles, I drove up near Santa Barbara to watch a friend’s boyfriend perform a one-man show. When I arrived, I bumped into Katia and Steve. We hung out for a bit and had a friendly lunch. After the performance, we were invited out for dinner by the theatre owners along with their friends and it was nothing more than a boring but polite meal with older California liberal hippies. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t like these California liberal hippies, as they were well-intentioned.
The theatre owners were writing and producing a play characterizing their marriage, which I found quite odd. It wasn’t that they were writing a play, but how they were going to have live cows marched out during the performance. I can’t remember exactly what it was and it’s at these moments where I wish I actually wrote a journal or diary of my experiences. It definitely had to do with cows in the performance. They proudly basked in the warm sunlight of their uniqueness, and so I made up how I witnessed a similar thing. I created a town in Vermont where they parade cows and dress them up every year. What I said was complete bullshit, but funny to me. I didn’t even care whether our hosts believed it, I was entertaining myself. Steve, meanwhile, gave me a disgusted look and at one point asked, “What are you talking about?” He canceled plans for later and from that moment on, I always sensed he didn’t care much for me.
I often find myself complaining that people think far too often about themselves. I log onto Facebook and, especially having a lot of LA friends in the entertainment biz, see a lot of “mom, look at me” posts. What I dislike about the entertainment business is the lack of community. There’s no interest in expanding their worldview of the world, about helping your brother and sister out, or simply thinking about other people – except when it’s someone’s birthday. There are times where people help out others but it’s in a self-serving manner. They want to be seen as a helpful person. It’s not simply a Hollywood thing, even though it’s blatant there, but it’s everywhere today. It’s not Facebook, but it comes out in Facebook, where people are far too often all about themselves and proving themselves to others. Actually, if I were developing the next generation Facebook, I’d title it “MyLifeDoesntSuck.com”.
When I think like this, when I see people as being self-centered, my train of thought is too self-absorbed. I’m too self-absorbed. With Katia and Steve, it wasn’t my place to either entertain myself or indirectly have fun at these people’s expenses. They had hired Steve, and although it would be a very remote situation, I could have hurt his chances of being rehired. On one hand, I really care about how others perceive me, but am also a bit ignorant and careless when they’re people I hold little value in. I have no easy answers to this, but it’s simply the discord and conflict I have with myself. I see how at times I can be a difficult person to trust and therefore form a relationship with.
There is something about not putting friends out with their friends. As I write about relationships and dating, I had a similar situation break out within my circle in LA related to dating last year. The worst thing that can happen is when one friend gives me bad news about another friend. Two friends had met up with each other. The girl, Pilar, was in a long-term relationship. Ralph, who was perpetually single and on the prowl, was a decent person to hang out with at bars. He was very intense and stubbornly ignorant of others. He was all about himself and I had in fact privately nicknamed him, “One Way Ralph.” They had met through me, and had met her’s boyfriend in a number of different social situations – one being Pilar’s birthday.
One day, I received a call from Pilar saying she wanted to know what was up with Ralph. She goes into this story about accepting a friendly happy hour invitation from him. It didn’t go well. Where she was thinking a friendly drink, he was suddenly making pass after pass at her and making her feel extremely uncomfortable. He hadn’t really flirted with her before, so what he was doing was quite unexpected. Where she had tried to balance honesty and politeness, making it clear she wasn’t interested, he was now texting for a second date. She asked if I knew about this, and I spoke frankly of how I had no idea they had hung out, nor of him liking her in the first place. She was clearly not interested and as her disinterest progressed, he was responding by sending her texts like, “Is everything alright?”
I’m all for friends dating friends. I think it’s very adult if they couple on their own and don’t involve me. I would have simply laughed it off had Pilar been single. It’s none of my business what two single adults do between them. But when Ralph went behind my back and put another friend in a truly uncomfortable situation, a surprise date with someone in a long-term relationship with a boyfriend he had met, he eroded my trust. Is there anything I can truly say? No. Can I trust him to not act like this in the future? No. With my knowledge of him and what he did, I basically had to cut Ralph off.
Before I leave you, I’d like to examine surprises, especially surprise dating. Maybe with teens, who haven’t quite worked their emotions out, this might be acceptable, but an adult should have more control of their feelings. If you see a photo of someone and seriously profess your love for them, you’ve got to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Every interaction must involve the other person. Your feelings must develop from these interactions. You can be attracted to people you haven’t met or be infatuated with people you don’t know, but you shouldn’t be acting on these desires and crushes.
With Ralph and Pilar, he had developed feelings without actually establishing a real connection with her. He liked her physical beauty and her mannerisms, but didn’t get a feel for her interest before progressing things. It was a bit socially awkward and I wonder if this is a result of watching too much TV or movies where writers create realities. We might see in a movie a guy that makes a suddenly brash pass at a woman and from this she falls hopelessly in love with him. This is fiction – seriously it is. In reality, screenwriters aren’t getting girls, but dreaming of leaving their writers rooms or their dark solitary apartments. In reality, people do meet and fall in love, but it isn’t forced. People do find themselves together and suddenly drawn. Many times it’s nothing more than chemistry. Other times, there’s a progression based on extenuating circumstances. Minutes or months, basically don’t surprise date people.
Friendship starts with trust. Trust starts with considering others first when it matters the most. Whether it’s maintaining your friends, making new friends, or even developing a business, you have to develop trust by connecting with what other people want and not what you want to give them, nor your expectations. Promoting your artistry requires true selflessness, thinking beyond yourself and what you can gain and giving to others what you would always want. Brilliance begins with trust.