Monday, July 17

Contexts

One of the more interesting conversations I had at the BBQ yesterday was around the allegation that it was somehow easier for guys to approach girls (whether to pull or for other more innocent reasons) than it was the other way round. Now, if you don't already know what I think of this assertion then you can read this here which kinda sums it all up. Generally though, I think that it can be equally difficult for both men and women; the only real difference being that it may be more acceptable for a bloke to gain any "reputation" that may form as a side-effect. In this day and age I'm not quite sure that's valid anymore though.

Whatever the detail, we did agree that it could be difficult. But then, we asked ourselves, why was that the case? Was it plain ol' fear? Shyness maybe? Well in some situations (perhaps even most), it could be, sure. However the friend I was speaking to didn't really seem the fearful type - and she respectively concluded the same about me - yet here we were swapping anecdotes of how we didn't approach that particular person on that particular day. And looking around I think that there are enough people who aren't afraid of rejection (or even acceptance) but still don't make approaches to warrant a new theory for this behaviour: one of contexts.

There are many contexts under which relationships can form. For example you might:

  • be acquaintances of mutual friends or family
  • come into contact with others professionally via work or some other shared interest
  • be looking for them via matrimonials or dating and the like
  • be introduced to people for the specific purpose of marriage
  • randomly get to know someone, say on your train to work (cough)
And different people operate differently under these different contexts. So that guy who was so smooth and able to charm the pants off of the even the most prude girl at college (yes, him) would buckle if he met the same girls through his family. Or that girl who's really shy and doesn't usually talk to guys might be the most popular and attractive person at work where the context is different.

And we can go on to describe these contexts in even further detail. So some people will never be able to form a relationship with friends of their exes (or if that doesn't apply then the friends of someone who's previously shown an interest in them), while others will never consider a boss or employee as a potential partner.

The point is that none of these reflect anything about the particular people involved, yet they seem to be enough to stop any potential relationship from forming no matter how perfect the candidates may be for each other. Weird, eh? And this may also come into play in other types of relationships too, like when making friends or having to work in a team. It's all about the context, man.

This effect shouldn't be confused with that of regular prejudices (like not going for a person of a certain job or background). What I'm talking about aren't prejudices per se, but they are just as irrational and baseless since under any other context, something might have actually happened at a better time and in a better place

Going back to my friend and me: I don't think either of us have trouble talking to members of the opposite sex (and I for one have been called many a scandalous things because of this. Sigh) and we're regularly coming into contact with a lot of interesting people, so in theory it's just a matter of time before something positive happens. Unless, of course, the context we're now aware of doesn't lend itself to allow anything to progress (which seems to be the case to date).

It's a strange and largely irrational consequence but one that is definitely there. It may even explain why so many good people are still single. If that is the reason, then one way forward would be for them to find the particular contexts that work and then to focus on just those and not waste time with the others. And if you think about the relationships that you've witnessed, you might find that the people involved did exactly that.

Of course, the better idea would be to stop making excuses and to just get over it. After all, if it's something that doesn't really mean anything anyhow, why let it get in the way in the first place?

2 comments:

  1. i got past the first part then my elbow slipped .. will read later :)

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  2. hhhmm interesting. I agree that context is very important and that alot of our actions are determined by our immediate environment and the context that we find ourselves in, however i disagree with the emphasis you are placing on it in this blog entry.
    In your proposed theory you fail to account for autonomy. For example, you mentioned that the same guy who can charm a prude in college may not be able to talk to the girl introduced to him by his family.
    Now although this may very well happen, its almost completely like youre suggesting he has 2 identities/personalities.

    I agree with the notion of "multiple selves," where people act somewhat differently with different people but without being any less honest to their true "self." (Again may simply see this the same as what youre saying in relation to varying contexts).
    Although, in this example you seem to have stripped this cohesiveness that exists in most of us with regards to a general "true self" that generally comes across the same in ANY context.

    Yes contexts are different, yes we have different ways of behaving in those contexts, but what i dont think is that a person changes as drastically as youre suggesting especially when it comes to forming relationships with the oppostie sex just because of a being in a given time of place.
    Maybe i just believe that personalities are quite static and dont necessarily change to accommodate situations.

    Disclaimer alert: omg! what a load of waffle! I probably just wrote a load of crap.. but then i love your disclaimers too shak! ;-)

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