Monday, August 13, 2007

Considerateness is Relative

I've been reflecting on a case, a while back, where my bf had dropped me off at a bus stop maybe 15 minutes from my apartment on his way to his parents' house for dinner. He'd asked me if this was okay with me, and I said it was. On my way back home from that bus stop, my big sister called (or I called her - don't remember which). I had plans to meet her for dinner later on. I told her that I was walking home from the bus stop that my bf had dropped me off at. She was complaining about it: "He dropped you off at a bus stop? How inconsiderate! He should have taken you home."

"But he asked me if it was okay, and I agreed to it," I told her back. (Well, something along those lines. No exact quotes in any of the conversation recalled here.)

Seriously, he did consider my feelings. He asked me if it was okay. If I really wanted to be driven straight to my apartment, I would have told him so, and in all probability he would have done it. But I didn't mind a short walk.

So what would have been "considerateness" on his part, if asking me if it was ok with me was not? Assuming that I was a spoiled selfish princess who, even if I said it was okay for him not to drive me home, would have bitched if he didn't, because I figured he should know what I want and that I would avoid direct communication because it's rude not to thinly disguise your selfishness? Why can't we just openly accept that people have self-interest, and express it directly?

Dang. Spock's right. Humans are highly illogical.

(I hope I'm not painting too negative a picture of my older sister. She is not some stereotypical ignorant jerk. She knows a few basics about autism, and that some things just aren't easy for my boyfriend. And although she sometimes has a hard time being around him - it's common for certain people to both overwhelm and be overwhelmed by my AS boyfriend - she does her best to accept him and be around him, 'cause she knows that I care about him and that he treats me right. But she just has expectations in social situations that I don't, and that particular reaction just happened to be a good nucleus for calling out the arbitrariness and senselessness of certain kinds of expectations that are common in society, like the dance of "considerateness" or "politeness." Why is direct expression of self-interest taboo? Why should people assume indirectly expressed self-interest in everyone, when maybe sometimes people genuinely don't mind accommodating others or not insisting that others accommodate them?)

What's considered rude to one person isn't necessarily rude to another person. My bf considers my needs plenty, as long as I make them clear. He doesn't refuse to consider them because they don't make sense to him; he just does what he can to accommodate me. In my view, being inconsiderate would be refusing to honor my strong wants and needs at all, particularly after I have expressed them clearly. My bf doesn't do that, at least not on a regular basis.

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