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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Indifference

In my blog of 17 May 2016 on Human Emotions (part 2), I classified hate as the opposite of love. Some people claim that indifference is the opposite of love. I disagree as indifference is an attitude, not an emotion, and its opposite attitude is caring. Nevertheless, indifference hurts like hell, at least when you are a sensitive person. In that way, indifference may indeed feel like the opposite of love.

Although I'm tempted to give some recent examples, I must refrain as the wounds are too fresh and the situations too private. I only talked about this with an old friend whose judgment I trust. She rationalised my feeling and said that this outcome was inevitable anyway. She was/is right about that but I just didn't expect it this soon.

The hurt caused by indifference is the theme of a 2014 Psychology Today article by Marty Nemko which got 170,000 page views and over 10,000 Facebook Likes. To put this in some perspective: My blog of 570+ articles has 53,000+ page views. Apparently, ignoring, neglect and indifference strikes an open nerve in people.

Indifference hurts a lot but there is a huge difference between intentional and unintentional indifference. Actually, intentional indifference is easier to cope with as you just get used to this attitude. A common example is the silent treatment, see my 18 December 2015 blog. Unintentional indifference (by sender) makes the receiver wonder why (s)he deserved this. Did (s)he do something wrong? Often it's too difficult for receiver to ask this question to sender.

Unfortunately, it's our own sensitivity that creates this problem of feeling hurt. If we were less sensitive, we wouldn't even have felt hurt in the first place. Insensitive and sensitive people project their own attitude onto others. Insensitive people get (very) surprised by emotional responses from sensitive people. Sensitive people get (very) hurt by the alleged indifference of insensitive people.

One could argue that the answer is in sensitive people becoming indifferent. The likelihood of that is probably as remote as the chance that indifferent people become sensitive. Both traits are deeply ingrained in our personality and both define our default behaviour. Also see my 2 July 2016 blog: Person vs personality (traits).

Ultimately, the answer is in self reflection. Did I do something wrong? No. Is it possible that people were just too busy to notice me, and to care about me and my sorrow? Yes. Is it possible – or even likely - that the indifference was unintentional? Yes. Is it easy to shrug off this feeling of hurt? No. The closer people are to you, the less protection your armour gives.

The easy solution is not letting people get close to you. Perhaps this works for others but not for me. Soon I'll be ready for another ride in my rollercoaster of loneliness and solitude (see my 20 May 2016 blog). Ultimately, I am a social person although I still don’t like crowds, groups or social gatherings. I just need that one special person and I look forward to getting closer to her.

Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – The Closer I Get To You (1978) - lyrics, video, Wiki

The closer I get to you
The more you make me see
By giving me all you've got
Your love has captured me

Over and over again
I tried to tell myself that we
Could never be more than friends
And all the while inside
I knew it was real
The way you make me feel

Lying here next to you
Time just seems to fly
Needing you more and more
Let's give love a try

Ooooh-ooh-ooh, whoa-oooooh
Sweeter and sweeter love grows
And Heaven's there for those
Who fooled the tricks of time
With the hearts of love they find
True love in a special way

The closer I get to you
The more you make me see
By giving me all you've got
Your love has captured me

Over and over again
I tried to tell myself that we
Could never be more than friends
And all the while inside I knew it was real
The way you make me feel

The closer I get to you
The more you make me see
By giving you all I've got
Your love has captured me

The closer I get to you
The feeling comes over me
Me too
Pulling closer sweet as the gravity



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