Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Boys Will Be Boys

Generally, when people hurt each other, they’re not being good or evil. They are simply being people.

And most people have the sense to recognise when they have done a hurtful act.

Looking back, we see that we ignored the other’s desires because we felt our own desires to be more important.

Depending on how we rationalise our selfish behaviour, we might promise that we won’t ever be so selfish again.

But that is a promise we can’t keep.

We know very well that, on the whole, we won’t value another’s desires more than our own.

For starters, we don’t know what another’s desires are until they tell us; not counting the generic desires for pleasure and aversion to pain.

More importantly, all living things are shaped to keep themselves alive. Meaning that every organism’s natural desire is to take care of itself first, and the other second.

Natural desires can, of course, be overridden. And of all earthly creatures, we can override our desires the most reliably.

But to promise you can restrain your natural desires for the rest of your days and become a living instrument of willpower?

I don’t buy it. And tricking people into believing that you can is deceitful.

People will come to expect you can place others ahead of you and will be disappointed when you can’t.

If we are to have a more successful living arrangement, we should admit that we are bad promise-keepers. Then we can prepare for the inevitable selfish act, rather than pretend it’ll go as promised.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach