Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We Are Different to Different People

I used to work for a guy who was a horrendous manager. He yelled at people. He was unappreciative. He was petty. A question that sometimes came up in our ongoing happy hour rants about the guy was how in the world he could be married -- and to a beautiful woman at that.

That was some years ago. I would not question that now.

I’ve since come to realize the roles people play in our lives bring out different parts of us. A person in one role doesn’t truly know how we are in another role. Yet, time and time again, we automatically assume the characteristics and behaviors we know from someone manifest themselves across the board.

A woman will see a man playing with his son and become instantly attracted. Why? Because he appears to be a great dad. Okay, let’s say he is...what does that have to do with him as a potential boyfriend or husband? A wonderful mother or father does not guarantee a wonderful wife or husband.  Those are two completely different relationships.

Which brings me to matchmaking. “What’s up with your homegirl?” Well, I think my homegirl is the bomb. We chat, we hang out, we have a lot in common. But who she is as your girlfriend...can I (or anyone other than former boyfriends) really vouch for that? I may know about her history with dudes, but I don’t know if she has weird pillow talk or is overly affectionate.

Yet, we continue to assume that because someone is cool -- or crazy, as in the case of that one boss -- in one role, that that behavior transcends all roles.

For example, to say I don’t spend a lot of time on the phone is an understatement. To some extent, I’ve always been that way, though I gaggled on the phone for hours as a teenager like everybody else. Still, I’ve never been one to have to be chattin’ it up with someone all the time, even family. I’m super sociable, but when I’m alone with my thoughts and going about my day, I’m fine, happy, and consumed in my own little world.

Now, what I lack in quantity, I make up for in quality. We may only talk every few weeks or months, but when we do, it’s a beautiful, soul-warming, multihour marathon. And it’s all good.

Therefore, if you were to ask my friends and family about my communication patterns in general, they would probably agree that it’s on the light side. A few might say it’s absent altogether.

But if we’re dating or we’re together? Different story. We communicate daily, throughout the day. If not a call, then at least via text. Does that mean I put my man above my friends? Not at all. It’s just a different role. "Me the girlfriend" looks different than "Me the homie" or "Me the Sister." It’s the same way you view your mother as a sweet kind old lady, but have no idea she turns into a Cirque du Soleil acrobat in the room with your daddy.

It doesn’t make you two-faced to act one way with one person and another way with another person. It makes you human.

In other words, you only know what YOU know, based on your role.

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