When an already-existing attraction is suppressed due to prejudices, diagnosis biases, and ill-informed judgments, eliciting compassion might work to persuade someone to lower these barriers and allow their underlying feelings to come through. But the joy of being kind is a poor substitute for the desires and gratifications of true love. If there is no attraction, then pity for the other will never suffice to fulfill us as much as a deeper, truer love for them will. So don’t go out with someone because you think they deserve it; do so because you feel that you deserve it and that you desire it. Being a do-gooder might score you some brownie points with God. But in my experience, it will never net you the love of your life.
But, while the choice to be kind to another should never form the sole basis for why you would go out with them, it is nonetheless, best to treat all people kindly and respectfully; whether you wish to date them or not. This information is critical. But voicing your preferences is usually unpopular, for few like to hear from someone that they do not meet our preferences. So it does no good to tell heavy women for example, that we’ll only date the thin, or to say to smokers that we find their habit unattractive.
Experience proves that little positive effect results from sharing our individual passion preferences with potential lovers, and it’s probably a bad idea to tell someone outright that we find them unattractive at all. Even if they would change, there’s no guarantee that after they did, per our preferences, that we’d find them any more alluring than we do now. Further, implying that they do not measure up can make them cry, and this can tug hard at our heart strings. When we see them so sad because we rejected them, we may be tempted to pity them and reverse course. We may decide to go out with them anyhow, in spite of our better judgment.
However, as much as we may wish to “save them,” we can neither change what we desire, nor what we do not. So there’s probably nothing they can say should they learn this that will change our minds. A drug addict would probably never convince me to find her attractive enough to fall in love with, even though I might be highly sensitive to her plight and be amazed that she’s gotten this far in life.
The cold truth is that if we’re not predisposed to desire them already, then they won’t turn us around by arguing their hard-luck case. They either have what we want or they don’t, because passion can be neither elicited, negotiated, nor coaxed. It’s either there, or it isn’t; and if it isn’t, then attempting to explain to someone we’ve rejected precisely why it isn’t, will not console them, but only hurt them. All they really need to know is that it isn’t, but they need not know why. The very fact that it isn’t should be good enough for them.
Indeed, I’ve erred here in my early years by allowing folks to talk me into revealing my exact reasons (as if I could even know those for sure) for declining to date them. But my honesty, though gently expressed, offended them deeply, and the result was that they betrayed me in public forums; painting me as shallow, heartless, and needlessly brutal. They shamed me for answering the questions that they themselves insisted that I speak. Some even played recordings of me for all the others to hear in these discussions. So I quickly came to understand that I gave them too much honesty; more generally, too much information.
While some responded to me with contempt and vengeance, others cried, and blamed nature for not better equipping them to get me to fall for them. Either that or they blamed themselves for my lacking interest. My opinions of them lowered their opinions of themselves. But I never wished to have that much power over another; for someone giving this much leverage to me might make them appear overly needy and thus, unfortunately, unattractive.
Keep in mind that the object of not dating them is just that: not dating them. It’s no more, and it’s no less. Saying things that insult them, even if no insult is intended and even though the words might seem true, is a bad approach. Indeed, telling them anything that implies that we think them inadequate in some way whether they can change it or not, will invariably be seen as hurtful and insulting as discussed above. So, don’t do it. Instead of going into details about why not, just say, “I don’t feel it, and I can’t help it,” and leave it at that. Most people will accept this detail-sparing rejection without further challenge, and you’ll avoid being compelled to pity them when they show signs of being hurt. Even if they react badly to your jilting them, telling them precisely how they fail to live up to your dating standards only makes matters worse. So keep it quiet, and you’ll observe less agony from them and thus be less likely to be drawn into the quagmire of pitying them; a situation that can be quite difficult and time-consuming to get yourself out of once you’re in. While I support honesty in most every endeavor, I also believe that it can be over-used. Some things really are best left unsaid.
- Compassion, Empathy, Pity
- Compassion Questing
- Cruel Better Judgement
- Dating Blind Men
- Dating Blind Women
- Defending Pity-Gets-Love Idea
- Enthusiastically Compassionate Love
- Getting Love By Seeking Pity
- I Love You Emmy
- Love Born From Pity
- Pity-Born Love
- Seeking Pity
- Seeking Pity to Get Love
- Using Emmy
- Water Park Musings: 2010-06-02
- Weather, Pity, Liars, Weight