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On love and morality

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  • #66974
    Vhanon
    Participant

    I’d like to know what you think about the following situation in general and whether you consider it to be moral, fair or wrong somehow.

    Suppose Martha falls in love with Jerry. Jerry values Martha as friend, likes her a lot, loves her too, but Jerry would like to be sure things can work in the long term and wants to know some details about Martha’s past. However, Martha omits to mention one very recent relationship with another partner and let Jerry believes that she cared and nurtured feelings since long before. Jerry states the inquiry in such a way that looks quite likely to Martha that he would have an hard time being in a relationship with her if she had any recent past relationship with somebody else. Jerry proposes a symbiotic love, Martha agrees.

    They live a few months together, they meet each other family, they are inseparable, they share a promise to stay forever together. Eventually Martha reveals the truth. Jerry feels betrayed, but he does not push her away, tough his trust has been weakened. He cares for her, but he asks her for a way to make up for she did. He asks her to be close to him so that he can regain the trust he lost. But that’s a difficult choice for her, because she is still attached to her family and her family is attached to her. Jerry waits, but as time passes, it becomes harder and harder for him to trust her, it does not seem to him she is caring. Especially since she asks him about important commitment (like having kids one day), he cannot comply to until that trust is regain and that pain, he feels, is healed. He says he cannot love somebody else (like kids) because he have to spend a lot of effort to love her and wait for her. He wants to be sure she loves him and not just the prospect of a future with him. Martha says that her omission was not important for her, she says Jerry should forgive her, that’s because Jerry asked her to tell him only what it was important to her. However Jerry argues that in symbiotic love what was important for him should have been important to her as well, moreover although he did not make an explicit question, he actually stated his beliefs on the matter a few times and she never corrected him. Eventually he felt ill and depressed, he cried, he started depicting a black future and was almost pushing her away from him, but he made a promise, he could not go. He was dieing. She became ill as well and eventually she told him her feelings had changed and she broke the relationship.

    These are my questions:

    Do you think it was OK for Martha to omit the facts about her past relationship?
    Do you think it was OK for Jerry to not leave Martha after he knew the truth and felt betrayed? Was it OK for him to give chances upon chances even if he could not trust her promise and he had bias that made him have suspects about everything Martha was doing?
    Do you think it was OK for Jerry to not commit to what was important to Martha, even if he committed to her and made a promise to not leave her and in his heart he wanted to make her happy?
    Do you think it was OK for Martha to leave Jerry without any attempt to regain his trust by being close to him, like he asked, or by proposing something else Jerry could agree to?
    Can they ever be friends again?

    #66978
    Inky
    Participant

    I think Jerry is thinking too much and Martha omitted certain things because it would make their current relationship SO much easier going forward.

    Why does Jerry live in the past? Everyone has one, and he should be happy someone wants to have a relationship with him in the present.

    That was my first impression in general.

    #66979
    Vhanon
    Participant

    Why does Jerry live in the past? Everyone has one, and he should be happy someone wants to have a relationship with him in the present.

    I suppose the reason is that the future is the projection of the past. Jerry should have been happy to have someone in the present if that was his need. However, suppose that Jerry wanted one and only one reliable person in his life, a person that assured him she would remain. Assume that Jerry was more willing to be friend with Martha rather than be in a relationship with her if she could not be that reliable. Now it happens that Martha had omitted a fact. So Jerry is scared that she may again still hide things that may hurt him one day, even her promise to not leave each other starts to be less believeble. Jerry is in a trap, whatever he does, he suffers: if he breaks the relationship his needs are not met and he will lose Martha even as friend (he knows things cannot be back the way they were and she will also suffer), if he stays a doubt that she actually care about him will arise, a doubt about whether she will actually remains. Jerry knew this could happen long before the relationship started, that’s why he asked Martha to be truthful. He feels she did not respect him with that omission. On the converse, Martha believes that not everything should have been said, she says that she wanted to spare Jerry the pain of that knowledge. She feels she was right and way better than many other women.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Vhanon.
    #66981
    Inky
    Participant

    OK, I was in a friendship where I “lied through omission”. I left something unsaid because I knew that she would go on and on and on about it, never get over it, keep talking about it, become fixated on it, etc. It would all become too much to deal with. You know what I mean? It wasn’t worth the price to pay. Of course she found out about it (I met her ex’s new girlfriend and didn’t mention it). I told her I was at the time sparing her feelings (which were very raw) and then forgot to say anything (life goes on). Now I’m the problem and people don’t tell her things about me that may upset her. So the cycle continues. See what I mean? She was so high maintenance in general. I always wondered why she had no friends. You don’t want to be known as that, trust me.

    #66998
    Vhanon
    Participant

    I’m not sure why you assumed she would go and on about it. Were you already in relationship, did you know her quite well, did she already behave like that before? Sometimes we may have prejudice and fear reaction from another person just because we saw similar people do the same before, but every person is unique in his ways, and your girl should be the most special above all else. What if she just wanted to know the truth from your mouth, what if she wanted to be reassured that your behavior was all right, that you actually knew what was wrong about it? If someone makes plan, and builds castle upon a fact or the absence of it, shouldn’t she be informed so that she can make the best out of her work for you both?
    If you saw no wrong in it and she does, that may be a sign things may not work in the long run, you’ll always be tempted to do those things she considers wrong, she may eventually find out, be really shocked and angry. Why shouldn’t you look for someone who approves you for all you are? Why shouldn’t let the other person look for someone she can fully approve? Is the present worth the pain in the future? I suppose you thought so and she did not. We do not think alike, let’s find out who we are and respect each other. But that’s the fatality of love, when people do not want to part and keep hoping the other may change and see the right of their way.

    Anyway the above scenario is a bit different. The omission happens before the relationship starts, when Jerry and Martha are friends and Jerry did not mind what Martha have been doing unless she wanted to be with him. When Martha proposes, Jerry minds the fact, he bases his decision upon that fact and may decide he does not want to stay with Martha at all. Martha denies him the truth and reveals it to him when it is already too late for Jerry to act in such a way to make things right for them both. Martha had decided what was the best course of action for them both all by herself, she did not consider Jerry’s feelings or the importance he put on the facts. Tough, Jerry failed to state would have been the consequences of an omission: that looked so unlikely, he trusted her.

    Now, there are things one may find once the relationship starts. All that is fair and good, you cannot know everything in advance. However, shouldn’t be something like that fact in the scenario always be mentioned before the relationship starts? Especially when the other person seems to give importance to it? If something is found during the relationship both people may conclude they are not one for the other, or accept each other limit. For example if your girlfriend really got fixed on that fact, you could put sense into her by telling her to either accept you for what you were or leave you (I know it’s easier said than done for fear of a break-up). However if something is assumed to be true for a long a time, and one day you find out that’s false, wouldn’t you be scared and hurt? What if you put a lot of effort to build something that relied on that foundation, wouldn’t you feel like you’ve taken advantage of? Wouldn’t we be all scared if tomorrow the sun did not shine?

    #67019
    Vhanon
    Participant

    I apologize for the double post, but I misunderstood Inky’s post and failed to realize that he was talking about a friendship.

    Most of the things I said remain true for a friendship as well. After all it is more or less like a relationship with less intensity and connection, it is also based on expectations, respect and trust.

    As I said, I’m not sure why you assumed she would go on and on about what you hid. Though, if she really did so and the discussion lead you nowhere, you could put sense into her by telling her to either accept you as you were or spend her time with somebody else. Can you be a friend with somebody that does not respect you? Can you be friend with somebody that you cannot respect? Wouldn’t you hate to assume you share values, and strengthen them through the friendship itself, just to find out later that they were not real? Is it better to to know the truth, be able to make choice based on it, but get stressed during the choice itself or to be ignorant, enjoy the present, yet risk to be disappointed and hurt later? We do not think alike on the matter, we also think differently depending on the context, but if someone has a preference why shouldn’t we respect it?

    #67024
    Inky
    Participant

    Well, all I know is that no one is perfect. We all have flaws and make mistakes and foibles. If I held out for a perfectly perfect person, I would be very lonely right now. You have to accept people where they are. People are selfish at the end of the day and their values do change. For example, if a kid does something terrible you want the judge to punish him, but if it’s your own kid you wouldn’t want him in the courts at all, you’d rather punish him at home! So good luck finding a friend or lover who dovetails perfectly with your own value system. It’s not as easy as all that, and hopefully you won’t clash!

    #67032
    Tir
    Participant

    Starting any relationship in fear of duplicity only attracts duplicity. It seems as though Using guided principles such as acceptance and compassion would lessen the implications that morality is somehow tied to ego. Morality is a set of constructs placed as boundaries to make sure the people we let in our life treats us with respect and goodness. Jerry did not receive Martha with an open heart or spirit because he was expecting the other shoe to drop and for Martha to be untrustworthy so everything she did was a test and she failed it due to the Laws of Attraction. He projected unworthiness in her and so she failed him because he was expecting that. Another man, who was more compassionate and open hearted would have seen the situation differently. He would have seen someone used to rejection due to her past and would have understood that she lied from an emotional, fragile place instead of a malicious one. Expectations are good but they lead to attachment to ideas rather than a connection of spirit. Also, sometimes expectations can be flawed due to pain and hurt that needs to be dealt with from previous relationships rather than move onto new ones where they taint the new person, or make them seem duplicitous or malicious due to residual anger and pain. The two people you referred to both became ill from depression due to each other so it is best they move on. This is what is termed a toxic relationship, and they np both sounded like unhealthy, immature people. Couples who know compassion, who do not rely on each other to make the other happy and who are well adjusted would probably have the tools to deal with past omissions and treat each other with compassion and respect instead of duplicity and depression.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Tir.
    #67033
    Vhanon
    Participant

    You are right Inky, one punishes his kids at home… as long as they are HIS kids, they are actually kids and he actually has a home. Adults should have dignity to choose. If adults risk to fight wars, it is better to go to the judge.

    “So good luck finding a friend or lover who dovetails perfectly with your own value system. It’s not as easy as all that, and hopefully you won’t clash!”

    However I do not know why you are personally attacking me with your irony. Do you feel attacked somehow? It seems you also have a value system to defend. You may as well be my friend, I do not mind what you do as long as it is not going to hurt me or someone else intentionally in some way. Tough I suppose you would not like me as friend, because I would warn you for the bad consequences of your actions, and you may no longer act with peace of mind. I believe I’m just giving you some tools to reason about how you may hurt someone else without intention to do it.
    I do not know what you hid to your friend, and I do not know why your friend wanted to know about that, but personally I may start to feel a fake if my friend was proud of me for something I never did or respected and valued me because he thinks I did not do something. (I imagine he talks proudly about me to everybody he meets.) Eventually I may start to think he is talking about somebody else, that he is actually a friend to somebody else and not to me. Moreover I would fear he will find out, I will hurt him and lose his friendship anyway. In the end, even in the course of the relationship, I would feel lonely like I had no friends at all. Then it is better to not have friends at all, at least you are not risking to disappoint anybody.
    Do you really want to live in a world where a person pretends he is somebody else just to be friend with a person that pretends to be somebody else? It is a fair and fun game, yet it looks loneliness to me when you are looking for a deep connection.

    Anyway, I guess your opinion on the scenario is “Martha did OK, she acted in her own self interest, being with Jerry what was mattered the most to her at the moment. Jerry was an idiot to think she would say the truth just because he asked for it and she said she loved him. Once he knew the truth, Jerry should have punished her and go over with it. Martha did OK by leaving him, once again she acted in her own self interest.” If I’m right with this summary, I’ve got one question. How should Jerry have punished Martha?

    “People are selfish at the end of the day and their values do change.”

    If you say that people are selfish, it means you also have an idea of “unselfishness”, how does that look like? What should a person do to be unselfish?

    By the way, thank you for your replies to my post.

    #67041
    Inky
    Participant

    Vhanon,

    Read Tir’s answer. Then read it again the next day, every day for a week. Then read it again every week for a month. Then read it again every month for a year. You have to really let it sink in. It is absolutely correct, and the correct way of looking at this.

    Sometimes kids say, “It’s so much work to be your friend”. I know you’re an adult, but consider that.

    To be honest, I skimmed half of what you said because the defensiveness is so heavy. Did you come here for advice, opinions or to argue?

    Let Martha go.

    Strive to be happy.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Inky.
    #67045
    Vhanon
    Participant

    Oh, thank you Tir, what an enlightening reply. I’m not sure whether it changes anything, but let me extend the scenario a little bit.

    Jerry and Martha started to know each other one year before they actually started the relationship. During those times Martha told Jerry she had been single since a few years. Slowly Jerry started to have an interest into her and he proposed. Martha refused to start a relationship with him. Jerry hoped that Martha made her decision easier on him with an explanation. Among the other things Martha said she did not want to make the same mistakes again. Since Martha arguments did not really convince Jerry, and she looked interested in him, he told her he felt committed and was willing to wait, maybe she could change her mind or give him a reason to believe she really did not want to stay with him. Jerry failed to state that if she found another man that would have been a very good reason to let her go and move on. He thought she would tell him for friendship sake. If they wanted different things in the future, that would have been another good reason too. Eventually Jerry and Martha fought, he wanted to know why she was looking for him, what were her goals, what she wanted in life, what was her view of love. Martha got angry at him because he did not want to comply to what she looked right behavior to her, and he looked obsessed with his feelings for her. They did not meet each other for five months. Jerry got depressed, Martha got diagnosed with an illness. Eventually Jerry gave up, he apologized to Martha for believing she was interested in him, he proposed to be friends. Martha accepted and promised him to not lie and he promised her to not nourish any hopes for the feelings he still held. They were friends for a couple of months. Jerry had found a job in a city nearby and was planning to move there. Martha had a dream, a voice that told her “you are going to lose him if you do not stop him now”. Martha told he had been thinking about him those months they were apart and she proposed to him. However, when as a mere confirmation about what he already knew, Jerry stated that Martha had been with nobody else during the time he had been waiting, she did not say a word. Nor she did say a word in the a few following situations the topic was touched later. Jerry forgave her that she made him believe she wanted to be just friends, even if she actually wanted something more.

    Compassion. Shouldn’t there be a limit for it? If someone starts counting on the fact you are always showing compassion, wouldn’t he eventually take advantage of it? How can you say when the person he is genuinely wrong or is acting on purpose? How do you distinguish between a malicious or a fragile place? If a bat sucks your blood, should you stay still and be amazed at what a wonderful creature of nature it is (well maybe one little bat would be ok, but imagine it is very big and hungry)?

    Quote
    “Couples who know compassion, who do not rely on each other to make the other happy and who are well adjusted would probably have the tools to deal with past omissions and treat each other with compassion and respect instead of duplicity and depression. ”

    If two persons do not rely on each other to make the other happy, why would they ever be together? Why would they ever make plans for a future? What past can they ever celebrate? At the very least you are counting on the other to exist somehow.

    Quote
    “Another man, who was more compassionate and open hearted would have seen the situation differently.”

    So Jerry was not compassionate. He did not wait for Martha to understand she stabbed him and make a choice to either heal him with an apology and her presence or to look for a new relationship before he died. Jerry did not feel sick to give Martha the chance to actually help him. And Martha did not feel sick because she had trouble deciding. But yes, I suppose that was unworthiness what Jerry projected into Martha after he knew the truth. It was impossible for her to restore the trust, unless she showed that same compassion to him, with who knows what great sacrifice.

    Quote from Inky
    “To be honest, I skimmed half of what you said because the defensiveness is so heavy. Did you come here for advice, opinions or to argue?”

    I just wanted some aswers to my questions. I also hoped for some analysis rather then a simple statement of the kind “Jerry was an idiot to assume the truth would have been revealed”. But that’s ok. This is my last post on this thread, I’ll stay quiet.

    #67046
    Tir
    Participant

    Very good question on our limits for compassion.

    “To love our enemy is impossible. The moment we understand our enemy, we feel compassion towards him/her, and he/she is no longer our enemy.”
    Thich Nhat Hanh

    Compassion isn’t about allowing or accepting bad or questionable behavior but about feeling peace and calmness as we evaluate a situation and/or a person and can determine whether or not they are who we want to journey with in this life. The two souls you were referring to made each other sick, or depressed, therefore the compassion would come with letting go of each other. Had they wanted the same things, and valued the same things and were both invested in a comparable relationship, the sickness would have been replaced with communication, trust, inter connectivity, and the desire for a future together. Relationships are like a river..too many stones and the water no longer flows, therefore the river is no longer a river.

    #67079
    Vhanon
    Participant

    I could not sleep tonight. I have to take back what I said in the previous post about not replying to this thread anymore.

    Quote from Inky
    “To be honest, I skimmed half of what you said because the defensiveness is so heavy. Did you come here for advice, opinions or to argue?”

    No, I’m not doing anything wrong by asking more questions, developing the consequences of one’s statements or trying to make sense of it all. So, let’s apply Tir’s advice in the previous post and let’s part from this conversation that is leading us nowhere. Tough, I thank you, Inky for your attempt to enlight me. Feel free to consider me an idiot.

    “To love our enemy is impossible. The moment we understand our enemy, we feel compassion towards him/her, and he/she is no longer our enemy.”
    Thich Nhat Hanh

    How true…

    Quote from Tir
    “Compassion isn’t about allowing or accepting bad or questionable behavior but about feeling peace and calmness as we evaluate a situation and/or a person and can determine whether or not they are who we want to journey with in this life. The two souls you were referring to made each other sick, or depressed, therefore the compassion would come with letting go of each other. Had they wanted the same things, and valued the same things and were both invested in a comparable relationship, the sickness would have been replaced with communication, trust, inter connectivity, and the desire for a future together. Relationships are like a river..too many stones and the water no longer flows, therefore the river is no longer a river.”

    Let each other go… Jerry couldn’t let her go, because he could hardly accept he had invested so heavily on nothing. He felt angry and tried his best to not let his rage ruin everything. He did not hurt them both by breaking suddenly. He proposed a way to restore the trust. She demanded that trust was restored through forgiveness. He waited for her either to accept his view or to part. He was drained in the waiting, because he wanted to stay true to his commitment. She eventually parted.

    Surely Jerry could have told Martha they were not meant to be one for the other, that their differences of value would push them away eventualy. Jerry could have decided the road they had to follow and not wait for Martha to take a decision. But how could Jerry know Martha’s values? He had a different view of her up to that point (after one and half a year), it took time for him to realize how false it was, and Martha did not validate Jerry’s view on her. Jerry thought it would have been a betrayal to look for someone else advices and tried to sort things within the couple. Maybe the law of attraction hindered Jerry’s rationality…

    When Jerry’s realization became more clear, he had already invested three years of thoughts in the relationship. It was his first relationship and he always dreamed he could have just one everlasting. He looked a failure to himself, he just couldn’t take the decision to kill it all. He let Martha decide. After all she was the strongest, she had 12 years of previous relationships at her back. Moreover, if their values were those Jerry thought she had, it would have been much more easy for her to part ways, especially when Jerry would look so weak and lousy that Martha would not have any advantage to be with him anymore. So she left him when he was more weak, and hopefully she did not suffer the break-up because she was not leaving that much of a man.

    Would have been better that Jerry took the decision to part up front or was it ok for him to let things slowly decline and let Martha decide? Maybe are those the same things? Maybe Martha realized where Jerry’s heart was going anyway. Wouldn’t have been easier on Martha that Jerry took a decision and slowly left when he was healthy and strong rather than letting her decide and leave him when he was frail and weak?

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 7 months ago by Vhanon.
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