Answering the Inbox

The M3 inbox is known for being the stupidest inbox in the blogosphere. While it holds that title every Friday Follies, there are quite a large number of very intelligent emails which arrive everyday. One such email sparked the following.

What is unreasonable?”


There are many things unreasonable in our lives, however, this particular question was about expectations. The remainder of the email admitted the relationship was not a marriage, but had the appearance of more than friendship. In all honesty, it makes no difference. The same standard applies to all types of relationship except Parent/Child.


We talked about bondage before, but these bonds are not exactly the same thing. These are the bonds we seek with others. We are social animals who seek out companionship. When the bonds form naturally, we grow comfortable in the relationship and begin to expect. These expectations have the opportunity to become unreasonable.


Whether a friendship begins virtually or starts with a handshake, privacy is an issue. Until we get to know one another, neither of us is likely to be forthcoming with all of the vulnerable details of our existence. Over the course of time, we will peel back the armor to expose the softer portions of ourselves.

This becomes a tit-for-tat scenario, even if we do not go into the exercise with the intent. For example, you meet Quaint on a social media website. Over a few months, you share with one another such details as past relationships, names of progeny and/or family, places lived, rough job history and social desires. As conversations go, a you show me yours and I’ll show you mine develops.

What happens when Quaint is not willing to share?


Trust is always a two-way street. Despite pessimism, we want to believe Quaint is trustworthy. We tend to begin relationships with a guarded trust, if you will, an attitude of I will trust you until you give me reason not to do so.

As the bonds form, the attitude grows more confident and the guard falls away. The first time Quaint is not willing to share, the trust takes a blow. Why? You trusted Quaint enough to show yours, yet reciprocity is lacking.


Is your first instinct…

  • Never reveal anything else?
  • Demand information?
  • Ask what the privacy issue is?

The first is self-preservation. When we feel as though we have been slighted, we are less likely to extend the opportunity to be hurt again. We return to the guarded attitude, but often do it with the hopefulness Quaint will reveal something to return to the road of discovery. Never revealing anything else is unreasonable. Revealing items which are less personal is reasonable.*

The second is absurdly bad behavior and thoroughly unreasonable. Each of us has a different level of privacy. Some people are overtly modest. They are unwilling (sometimes, unable) to reveal certain items because they feel too vulnerable when the information is known. Some people are overtly immodest. They do not feel threatened at revealing any portion of themselves. Neither of them are in a position to decide what is appropriate for the other. (Refer to bondage.)

The third is the most reasonable reaction. Relationships where information exchange is unequal inevitably causes a lack of trust. Knowing why someone needs to keep a secret can mitigate the lacking, which is most often perceived as a breach of trust.

*The Line

Where do we draw the line for self-preservation? When we are discussing very personal items, such as emotional reactions like grief, we need to take into account where Quaint is in the emotional evolution. For instance, the subject at hand is failure. You reveal a time when you were fired from a job for failing to complete your duties at standard. Quaint becomes a clam. What you do not know without asking is where Quaint is with dealing with failure…

Quaint was on a job where others’ lives were at stake. Failing to meet standard cost the life of a person. Quaint may not be at a place where discussing the failure is appropriate without unraveling the incomplete healing.

To have hurt feelings because you feel Quaint being unduly secretive (in your opinion) is unreasonable. Your level of comfort with revealing does not extend to anyone else.

However, there are critical items which should not be withheld. They are neatly bundled into one word: Identity.

As you look at the answers, you will see these are the building blocks we use to build our images of people. They are the qualifiers which make us understand others. They help us know what to expect, choose what to keep secret, where to seek camaraderie, how to engage, when to trust, if the relationship is worthwhile.

Danger, Will Robinson!

When identity is withheld, two predominant categories emerge:

Liar: This person is not attempting a relationship for the sake of bonds. This relationship has an ulterior motive which could be anything from fraud to get money to satisfaction at destroying someone else’s life. You already know how you feel about someone lying to you.

Confused: This person carries baggage in hand, on a cart, in the trunk, in a moving van and likely has three matched sets of luggage in a storage facility. This relationship requires intervention.

While you may be convinced you can help the confused Quaint, before you dive in and talk about all the changes and healing which need to take place, consider the following questions:

  • What qualifies you to assess another’s mental state and the pace at which Quaint should heal?
  • Do you know what has slowed or stopped Quaint’s healing?
  • Does Quaint want to heal?

You may have a doctorate from an Ivy League university. If the answer to the last question is “no”, save your breath. It is unreasonable for you to attempt to affect change in the life of a person who is content in their dysfunction.


You have heard the adageย You cannot help those who do not want help.ย Have you ever been in a relationship where Quaint needed help? Where did you draw the line? How do relationships function once one finds out the other has withheld identity? (Please withhold names.)

(c) Red Dwyer 2012
Re-Blogging of this or any other post on Momma’s Money Matters
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  1. Nice … Very well written. ๐Ÿ™‚
    MysteryCoach recently posted..~ Love * Moments Like That ~My Profile

    • This is one of those “wish I had a dollar” questions. I left enough in this one though which will need further discussion…especially about the line. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Line as in where we draw it? Oh… allow me, if I may. WOOF!

        The line “can” be drawn the minute you see yourself being attached to one person more than any one else. This is an emotional attachment that develops between one person and another, for a variety of reasons which are highly individualized.

        There is something that clicks for the individuals involved (cough… s’cuse me) allowances and trade offs are made “in that very moment” and “within the person’s mind” where one realizes they have become attached to any one particular person. It’s based on how the other person makes them feel, the conversation that has gone on up through that point, how supportive this person has been to them already, if they’ve shared things that were responded to kindly and they feel safe doing so with this person, validated and understood, how easily the conversation flows back and forth, their sense of humor and of course all things combined can create really wonderful connections with someone online.

        The lines become cloudy as the relationship grows, the attachment grows and they’ve quite literally become a part of your day. I mean, it’s all the time, we see one another all the time. I used to run, as you know, the network online there and never in the 4 years I ran it did I ever develop an emotional attachment to anyone.

        Blogging is like a playground for all kinds of emotional attachments to be made. I have to say, personally, all my intentions in any and all of my conversations with people have always been genuine, sincere, open and as truthful as possible. I personally hate that my blog right now, does not carry a picture with it, however “for now” if I go to work, it’s none of their business.

        Most of the friends I have made through WordPress “know me” and what I look like though. I think that’s cool. Oh, sorry got away from the “line” idea.

        Lines are hard because once a person means something to you, it’s that much harder to let go of them. There’s an emotional connection which can go quite deep (as I referenced above and with all those factors included) and if you’re not careful… there are those predators out there (Like Thomas and you could see that boys face) who will manipulate and connive anyone.

        There’s the ones where it sneaks up on you too. We develop a connection with someone and everything’s all good and they don’t want to reveal their identity any further then they have and that’s a big deal to me. I think that’s a trust issue when one person refuses to be open about who they are and we can respect their need for anonymity, however… for how long?

        The fears of one, can rattle another person’s cage to the extent where everything goes straight to hell because now trust has been shaken, (I think you said this up there as well) and once that trust is shaken it’s very difficult to feel safe having the same conversations or opening up the same topics again and at some point there’s what I call a stalemate.

        One person is rattled and now feels unsafe, the other person already has whatever going on for them and how do you come back from that? I don’t know. What I do know is that once safety has been broken for me, it’s difficult to come to some medium ground because there is no reciprocity.

        Expectations are not only one sided. Expectations are based not only on what we’re used to in relationship building but on what the other individual said and did. They plant expectations in our mind based on their overall behavior and they’re healthy ones initially however one persons expectations should never be used as the “excuse” for keeping ones self cloaked because it betrays trust.

        I have so much to say about this topic. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think this got quite long so I’ll stop here for now. ๐Ÿ™‚
        MysteryCoach recently posted..~ Love * Moments Like That ~My Profile

        • *giggles* I think it is almost as long as my post! (Psst. Do not reply to this comment, make another one…for the sake of the length of the page.)

          One trust is broken, be it virtual friendship, F&B relationship or marriage, it is tough (some say impossible) to get back to the “You show me yours” portion of the discovery phase. No, expectations are not a one-way street. Where the problem surfaces are when we are not upfront about the expectations. In the scenario at hand, the expectations are merely about the sharing of information. What becomes the deciding factor to where the line is drawn, ultimately is out tolerance for secrecy really is.

  2. I’ve thought about it. Relationships are built on trust, mutuality, reciprocity and these things build over time. When we develop relationships with other people it’s my greatest belief that in order for it to continue to build that these things be present and discussed as time goes along.

    Relationships, to me, are not built however on only one parties terms where one is put into the position to accept a relationship, under any circumstance wherein the above factors are not present. It doesn’t speak to a healthy relationship to me at all… if anything, everything will simply fall apart over time and someone will get hurt.

    I have more thoughts. I’m sure of it, for now though, this is my addition to the above.

    And too then you have motive, intention, So many variables. I think what it all comes down to is how we feel, internally and how it affects us over time. It’s very important not to ignore certain patterns of behavior from another person because they will be present from the beginning. I mentioned those above.

    Okay. I think I’m done. I think…
    MysteryCoach recently posted..~ Love * Moments Like That ~My Profile

    • The relationships in your second paragraph are discussed under the link above “Bondage”.

  3. I had responded before seeing your response because I have many thoughts on this topic.

    In response to your reply, I think it would take time to rebuild the level of trust once it’s been severed.

    I know expectations can be tricky. They should not be twisted around to suit ones purposes though. That’s unreasonable and we can twist this one sentence around too. “tricky expectations” … then we can take it over to control … and who has it … not that anyone should.
    MysteryCoach recently posted..~ Love * Moments Like That ~My Profile

  4. I am in a relationship that started late in life, and I feel so differently this time. I am able to allow the two of us to have different privacy needs and disclose things at a different rate. I’m not saying I don’t wonder, because I am the one who discloses so much, but I trust that I will hear what Mate feels safe for me to learn at their pace, not mine. They have disclosed enough for intimacy and trust to form, and is opening up more daily. Patience is what has worked for me, and tolerance for differences. I say too much, elaborate too much, but Mate is tolerant of me too. HA
    Gail Thornton recently posted..Poem – Moving StillsMy Profile

    • The give and take is healthy. As long as neither gets the mind to demand the other change it will work out. Patience is necessary when you are the quicker one to reveal. What you may discover is part of that modesty wears off on you, and you will be a little less revealing with the next Quaint on the path. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. As always, a well thought and written post. As rarely, I disagree with a lot of it.
    It seems (to me) that many of the disclosures and generalizations are based on assumptions.
    My criteria for revealing things is (are?) usually does the revelation fit the conversation. I have done very little that I’m ashamed to reveal.
    My line is drawn at the point of maliciousness and willful stupidity.
    As far as the other not reciprocating, my question then is was there a reason for it, and did it fall into one of the two line categories.
    And sometimes, people just fall out of like without a particular reason…
    El Guapo recently posted..Friday Foolishness โ€“ Posterity EditionMy Profile

    • * It’s also possible I completely missed the thrust of this post too. Sorry if that’s the case!
      El Guapo recently posted..Friday Foolishness โ€“ Posterity EditionMy Profile

    • You seem to be talking about casual conversation, in which case, I agree with you. Each level of relationship carries a different weight to the relevance of revelation. The criteria are different. I like where your line is drawn. Falling out of like is common. However, if you really care why, you can normally point to a pivot point…which one zigged and the other zagged.

      Where this particular question began was somewhere between friends and a “relationship” (something before engaged but more than “It’s complicated”). the universality of reciprocity extends throughout all of these. When someone stands firmly behind the privacy curtain, if you are not interested in “why”, there truly is not a point. Hence, it is unreasonable to get your knickers in a twist.


  6. Of course it depends on how deep the relationship is. How much you reveal and how soon can be very personal matters. And it’s difficult to compare different revelations. X reveals one very personal detail, while Y reveals 3 less personal details. Does that balance out? And some are naturally more open, while some are naturally more private.
    Binky recently posted..Dolly MoverMy Profile

    • That is a judgment call for each relationship. I am not sure it does, but there are others who feel that is acceptable. Learning to be tolerant of the differences is what makes the balance happen.

  7. I soak in my dysfunction and lather myself with crazy every single day. Life is good.
    Friggin Loon recently posted..Granny RageMy Profile

  8. Each relationship is different, trust being built over time and even depending on the type of relationship one is seeking. In all honesty I am far more willing to trust a female friend than a potential mate with some aspects of my history. Not that eventually I wouldn’t tell most things, but some things I suspect I might never tell.

    I would even guess these days we form a very different type of relationship given how wide we fling our nets. Where once we were limited to geography, now we are more likely to find better matches to our personality through social media, those the rules change somewhat.

    Love you my sister – well done and thoughtful as always.

    Valentine Logar recently posted..No Facts AllowedMy Profile

    • I agree. We are going to go into the differences in relationships now that we measure distance from one another in terrabytes rather than miles.

  9. love this post, Red… obviously, a subject of deep interest for many…
    for whatever reason, if there is something in my past that I choose not to reveal (whatever the level of relationship), I see that as a valid and appropriate choice, no matter the reason. And I allow for the same from others. It can be anything from a silly thought to a dreadful action, choosing to divulge, IMO, does not need to be based on any level of good/bad/ugly. It can simply be a choice to have a secret with oneself – a relationship in and of itself!!
    I also get big alarm bells if I reveal something, like quaint above, and am judged for not having the sensitivity to withhold in this particular circumstance. I’m not a mind reader, nor do I expect my mind to be read. All that does is leave room for confusion, bad communication, guessing and games.
    I guess that’s all for now… looking forward to further discussions…


    BuddhaKat recently posted..Cracked, but never brokenโ€ฆMy Profile

    • This subject pops up from time to time in the SIB. Each time we take it on, there is a proliferation of ways we approach each other. I daresay any of them are wrong because I am far too interested in why we do what we do. I think we will need to go into something we have not discussed in more than six months. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Glad to see you today, BK {HUGZ} xxx

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