It’s all too common these days to hear people categorise their relationships into labels: best friends; real friends; acquaintances; fake friends, enemies, lovers… blah blah blah, the list goes on. Now not that this is wrong at all, I do it after all and depending on those involved, some labels are necessary for relationships, such as with formally/legally recognised labels as in marriage and professional relationships, blood relations/other family etc. However, my problem with labels is how it affects our behaviour towards others as human beings FIRST before any of these man-made labels. When a relationship is healthy, a label may seem wonderful but if it isn’t so rosy, they can be unintentional tools for irreparable damage.
Prime example: In a healthy platonic relationship, “best-friends” are ideally inseparable, selfless to each other and even knowing everything possible about each other and still loving each other nonetheless. But! If things go sour, intense love is replaced by intense hatred, all those little bits of personal information about the other party become weapons to hurt, defame or even belittle each other; as a result blackmail, depression and even violence )among others) are almost expected. And unfortunately this madness is accepted as the norm in modern society. That’s not even touching on the misuse of these labels to exploit others. Using the same example, two people are supposed “best friends”, only, one does not truly love the other and as such uses the label to deceive and even manipulate their partner emotionally, mentally and even physically. In such a case, the abuser is inarguable guilty, but sadly, a lot of the time, the abused and indeed others remotely related to either party can be at fault for assuming the label on said relationship automatically makes a person good.
This indeed is the fundamental flaw with labelling relationships: we tag people with labels based on a few factors and mentally give that person every other attribute we expect from that label. Hence we assume a romantic partner should eventually “love” us and then blame them if they don’t; we assume a best friend should put us before most people and do and do the same in return only to be caught off-guard when they go on holiday with someone else they just met; we assume siblings are hard-wired to care about each other and view any action to the contrary as a betrayal; we assume employers should have a robotic ability to switch off emotion and bias when managing employees then lose our minds over displays of emotion, sexual harassment and favouritism in the workplace; we assume everyday people cannot be discriminatory, disillusioned or illogical.
Essentially we forget people are people FIRST and foremost, before they are the labels or titles we assign to them.
Now don’t get me wrong, nobody is excused for immoral actions or willingly inflicting pain on others. But so much damage can be avoided if we: 1. Remember people are just people and are just as prone to flaws, mistakes, wrong decisions and moments of weakness; 2. Acknowledge and embrace all these facets of a person when beginning, maintaining or ending a relationship because; 3. Once we truly understand a person, much heartache, pain and suffering can be predicted, prevented and even made harmless.
When I first realised this and began applying it to my own life, I began to see every single person around me in a much clearer light. So many actions formally seen as offensive became quite petty and forgivable and I, suddenly, seemed almost immune to negativity around me, whether it was directed at me or not. In fact, I realised how much I could inform and help people with a variety of issues because I could now see things about themselves and others that they couldn’t just because I don’t look at them through a filter of their labels but as humans like myself and everyone else.
Now I’m not saying I awoke from the Matrix and now have super human abilities. No! I’m saying we are ALL blind to people’s true nature until we make a conscious effort to really look at them… or someone else shows us.