Ignore the Rabble. Go for the Gold / Relax: The Pain is only Temporary
Dear Dr. Hurd,
I feel segregated from the gay community over many things. I don’t enjoy casual hookups with friends or strangers, and some of my acquaintances around here make me feel like an outsider because of that. I believe in monogamy and a “one true love,” but again, people make me feel like that’s not the norm. I can’t believe that nobody else thinks like I do…do they?
Dr. Hurd replies,
It’s an unusual and increasingly rare person who can speak his or her mind without concern for what the group thinks of them. From my experience, that sort of independent thinking has become the exception, not the rule. Too bad. We all gain more from one another when we’re authentic, even if it’s not always what we want to hear.
That being said, I suspect more people agree with you than you think. The problem is that many need to foster the idea that they think like the group. They want to be seen as thinking what they think everyone else thinks. Sounds confusing? Yes —that’s my point. And in the long run, I’m not sure it matters. The only person you need to agree with on this subject is your future one true love. If you two are on the same page, all will be well.
Monogamous love is a special thing. You might give up variety, but you gain the holy grail of cherishing one another exclusively. Some will reply that you can have genuine intimacy and an open relationship—but after hearing candid truths about people’s lives in the privacy of my office over the years, I’m not sure that’s possible. You can’t be all things to all people, sexually or otherwise.
Don’t worry about the “norm.” Insecure people will put you down for not fitting in with the group, but it truly doesn’t matter. You’d think that gay people in particular would get this, but the reality is that the previously persecuted and shunned are often the least tolerant of them all. They do to others what was once done to them.
By the way, nobody can make you feel anything. You feel the way you do because of how you think. If someone tries to shame you for not feeling as they do, they’ve done nothing but reveal their insecurities to you. Don’t let their lack of confidence be an excuse to ruin your day.
Dear Dr. Hurd,
I see all sorts of posts on Facebook about this, but it’s really true: So many of the summer visitors to the beach drive like complete idiots! Weaving all over the road while texting; crossing three lanes of traffic just to make an illegal U-turn; abusing the bus/bike lane all the way from Lewes to Rehoboth; taking up two parking spaces for no apparent reason—I want to like these people and welcome them, but frankly I’m ready to key their cars! I’m sick of this disrespectful behavior on the part of these vacationers. Why do they act like that and how can I make myself feel better about it (if I live long enough on the road with them)?
Dr. Hurd replies,
It might be a challenge, but try to think of the bigger picture: They’re here to visit temporarily, and they spend money. On the whole, they add more to the area than they subtract. If we had no tourists, we would have little or no economy, and many of the businesses and activities you enjoy year-round would not exist. If it’s isolation and solitude you want, go live in a forest or on a mountain.
We can’t control other people’s choices. We can only control our own choices and our responses to others’ choices. That won’t make you feel better about rude, disrespectful people, but it is a statement of fact. Facts trump feelings 100% of the time. So face the facts, and let go of the angst.
You can’t hold strangers accountable for their rude or inconsiderate behavior. Psychologically speaking, the best alternative is to avoid them. If they’re in a hurry, get into the slow lane and let them go. Who knows? Maybe they’ll get a ticket (you’re allowed to feel good about that, by the way…). If you need extra time, then leave early. Pick the better times to travel when you can. My point is that you can make different choices to get better outcomes.
I know that a lot of what angers you is the sense of unearned entitlement many of these people display. But don’t fall into the same trap! You’re no more entitled to live here than they are to visit here. You might feel you’re entitled to polite behavior from others, but you’re really not. Rude and nasty people are often the unhappiest, and they’re not to be envied. Give the good aspects—like their money and the good things it brings to those of us who live here—more importance than the negative ones. If you can do that, you’ll find their rudeness matters a whole lot less.
Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D., LCSW is a psychotherapist and author. His office can be reached at 302-227-2829. Email Dr. Hurd