In my Philosophy class last week, we began to learn about different theories on ethics regarding happiness, choices and consequences, and delved deeper into what is and what is not considered moral character. My professor struck a chord when he started the discussion with utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism is the view that in order to generate the most good from an action, one must sacrifice their own happiness if it will benefit a greater cause. Throughout the lecture I was listening, but my mind had eventually wandered off into its appropriate corner to dissect this a bit. It seems that every class I do this; take bits and pieces of the conversation and fit them into my life to try and make sense of people and how they act from a philosophical point of view. Surprisingly, it actually helps clear the confusion that can come from post-friendship breakups. Of course, thinking this way can be detrimental to any newly forming relationship. I believe I am just cursed, or blessed, with a severely overactive brain when it comes to trying to figure out situations (especially those that do not go my way). My friends always look at me with surprised eyes when I give them some analytical explanation as to why someone did something to me.
“Oh my God, Sarah, really? You are totally overthinking this.” – says concerned and emotionally exhausted due to Sarah’s problems best friend.
What if I am for once not overthinking? Maybe they are just [underthinking] pulling the shades on the hidden truths. I am no psychologist, but sometimes it is not that hard to read people. Thanks, mandatory college philosophy course for giving me new ways to dissect the problematic situations that are ever so present in my life.
Although we are most used to doing such in classes like psychology, I feel that using these ethical theories is strangely more accurate, as I do not believe by any means that science holds all the answers.
I took people- friends, and not so liked figures from my recent past- and easily fit them into that bitch of a puzzle that has been giving me a headache for too long. It was easy for me to put my closest friends in a respectable category. I used the appropriate moral thought processes, disregarding all material aspects of their personalities, should there have been any and knew instantly why they were in my life. They are honest and trustworthy people who would and do go out of their way regularly to make me happy. Who am I to deserve this? I make abnormal amounts of mistakes on a daily basis. I oftentimes put my happiness first, regardless of the greater good. I am obviously, to them, someone they feel is worth a place in their life, spending time with and going out of their way to way to make happy. But what about… the others?
Breaking down the bad things about a person always seems too easy to do, especially in time of frustration and betrayal. We can use philosophical ideas of what a person is like, or we can just use our heads sans any college information overload induced coma.
For the most part, and in my experience especially, people always claim they are a good person. Some might even go on to give reasons as to why they are deserving of our approval, why they are entitled to happiness and friendship, love and success. Does the self-justification show a red flag? It has for me. When a person goes out of their way to shove down your throat, to prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt they are ideal for good karma and rightful of our time, should we believe them? Absolutely not. How cynical, Sarah!
I think I can appropriately throw in another philosophy term here: hedonism. The correct definition according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary is “the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life.” If a friend of two years is suddenly trying to court you, they may overfeed their “good qualities” to you when you have already eaten it all up already- full from the bullshit. With every hang out session you hear the same old explanation as to why ” they just cannot seem to find the right one”, but start to realize differences and flaws in their story. In cases such as these, you are most likely dealing with a hedonist. Someone who is looking to solely suit their needs and gain personal pleasure; a man or woman obeying the rules of the chase. Maybe their mind is so warped from telling the same story for a quarter of their life that they actually believe the lies they are telling.
Time and time again, you will run into people who use this type of facade with only intentions to benefit an individual greater good. Whether it be sexual or because they need attention, people like this are normally the ones that end up alone for a long time. They will become serial daters, non-monogamous romantics who are disastrously in love with themselves (or have zero self-confidence) that they do not even realize they are hurting everyone around them. The truth is, they will never be satisfied with anyone until the innocent give in to their game, which is unfortunately only momentary and superficial.
Avoiding people like this is a hard game to play, which requires attention to detail and a sturdy wall between the two of you to block off any potential for hurt. Tearing down this wall will take time and a whole lot of proven trust. Just like addicting dating shows where the normally confident woman cries to the womanizing bachelor that she is ‘too afraid to let her guard down’, sometimes we all have to go through that unfortunate phase of withdrawal and skepticism, especially if it distinguishes between a toxic and real relationship.
I say, do not be afraid to whip out that less-used section of your brain to break down character traits. As long as you are not doing this with everyone, you are safe to use these tactics. Only is it necessary when you feel you are being betrayed, deceived, or worse- need to decide whether or not to end a relationship.
We are taught to apply what we learn in school to our actual lives, so using abstract knowledge to decipher people should not feel extravagant. We are young and responsible for our well-being and sanity, do not waste time. If you feel something is off in a relationship, get your Clue on and figure it out. Sometimes the signs are not always so clear. Use what those thousands of dollars in education taught us and make intelligent decisions that will gear you up for a life of positivity.