Yeah, but…

Today I came across a page entitled “15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone At All (Though You Think You Do).”    Overall, I felt that it was pretty accurate, except that the way it was phrased, if everyone took it right at face value, would make us a society of jerks.  Most of these my exception is that explanations are owed to the people who are closely and negatively affected by our choices.   And I have to wonder if stuff like this is part of what is making us all so… anti-social.  That and sit-coms where people are rude and sometimes downright cruel to the people closest to them, whom they should be treating with the utmost care and respect, and then we’re told to laugh at it.  And then we wonder why our own relationships don’t ever work out…   But that’s a different topic.

Here’s my “yeah, but” list for that article.

1. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your living situation.

Absolutely.   From the article “If you are fully aware of your living situation, then it means you have your own reasons for being in that situation that are nobody else’s business.”  Yeah…except when your living situation directly and negatively impacts someone else, like your children or your spouse.  If my husband suddenly decided to up and move us to a different place you bet your buttons he’d owe me an explanation.  I think children are owed (eventually) an explanation for the circumstances for which they lived, be they good or bad.  Perhaps it’s not a sit-down-and-talk-it-over, but they deserve to understand, to some extent, the reasons life was as it was, even if it was good.   Also, I think it’s not a bad idea to sit down and have an honest chat with yourself explaining your living situation, and what you might do to change or improve it should you feel that it needs such things.

2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your life priorities.
A agree pretty much with this one as well (ok, I agree with all of them).  Go ahead and stick to your chosen priorities, but be honest with yourself about what they are.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you might owe yourself and explanation of your life priorities, and if you like what they are then go after them.   But remember that other people might not like or agree with your priorities, and that’s not your problem.  Though it might affect your relationship with them… but I think the best thing you can do is remain true to yourself.  If you change your priorities, do it because you feel it needs to be done, not because someone else is pressuring you to it.  Anyhow, moving on…

3. You don’t owe anyone an apology if you are not sorry.
I agree with this one, too.  An apology when you’re not sorry is a lie.  I did read an interesting bit of advice recently that I thought wise.  The suggestion was that instead of apologizing, offer gratitude.  Rather than “I’m sorry I was a jerk” (if you don’t feel like you were a jerk) try saying “Thank you for being patient with me today, I’ve had a really difficult day.”  This keep name-calling out of the equation (see, nobody got labeled a jerk here).  But remember, the goal here is honesty, both with yourself and the other person.   And do apologize if you are sorry.  It’s amazing how much an honest and heartfelt apology (especially if you add “Will you forgive me?” at the end) will go toward starting to mend the hurt in a relationship. 

4. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for requiring alone time.
And I agree with this one, too.  Alone time is very important.  However, I think it’s prudent to explain to the people closest to you why you need it from time to time.  Imagine if your spouse just randomly shut themselves up in a room, or left on a hike or whatever, without telling you why they just wanted to be away from you.  You’d wonder about the health of your relationship.  And seriously, how hard is it to say “I love you, I just need some time to myself for a bit.” ?    And especially with young kids.  For an introvert such as myself, having small children, while wonderful on so many levels, is mentally and emotionally exhausting.  I rarely get time without them running in to me to talk or get help, or feed them or break up a fight or get a toy, etc.  It’s even worse when I just want to talk to my husband after a long day about anything at all from the grown up world.  I don’t get to have a conversation with him that isn’t interrupted literally every two or three sentences with their need for attention.  Wearying.   But, they need me, they rely on me and they love me.  They DO deserve an explanation when I need my alone time, else they think they’re being shunned, that I don’t love them.  It breaks their hearts when I snarl at them to leave me alone for 5 freakin’ minutes.  However, I’ve learned that if I explain to them that I need some alone time (usually I have to put it in terms they understand – I’m grounding myself from them until I feel less grouchy) then they’re not hurt.   So I’d seriously say that you owe an explanation for needing alone time to the people who you seriously hurt by not showing up (that is, your spouse and kids).  Social engagements, no, no explanation required.  But the people closest to you?  You do if you actually care about them more than yourself.  (You owe them an explanation, but you don’t necessarily owe them the forfeiture of said alone time)

5. You don’t owe anyone your agreement on their personal beliefs.
Yup.  But that doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk about it.  And remember that they don’t need to agree with you, either.

6. You don’t owe anyone a yes to everything they say.
Yup.  The article says “
You have a right to say no whenever there is no compelling reason to say yes. In fact, the most successful people in the world are those who have mastered the art of saying no to everything that is not a priority. Acknowledge other people’s kindness and be grateful for it, but don’t be afraid to politely decline anything that takes your focus away from your core goals and priorities. That’s how to get ahead.”   No additions from this quarter.
7. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your physical appearance.
You might be slender, plump, tall, short, pretty, plain or whatever, but you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone for why you look how you do. Your physical appearance is your own business and you are obligated only to yourself. Physical appearance shouldn’t determine your self-worth.”  Damn straight.  I’d also expand this to include bucking ‘beauty’ norms.  If you want to wear make-up or not, if you spend an hour on your personal grooming every day or 15 minutes, if you wash your hair with the fanciest products or have gone simple with baking soda and vinegar, if you wax all your hair or never shave, or anything in between, you don’t owe anyone an explanation.  Ok, except maybe yourself.  As long as you’re honest with yourself about why you do what you do with your appearance, no one else’s opinion on the topic really matters.  

8. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your food preferences.
Yup.  Unless your food preferences are destroying your kids’ health.  Then maybe you owe them an explanation and apology (unless you’re not sorry… in which case maybe you’d better not be in charge of your kids’ food).

9. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your sex life.
Except maybe your partner.

10. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your career or personal life choices.
The article’s comments on this change the header a bit – they mean an explanation of how you choose between career and personal life.  With that slant, I agree.

11. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your religious or political views.
This should have been partnered with #5 I think.
I agree that you don’t have to explain yourself, but it doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk about it.  And remember that they don’t need to agree with you, either.
12. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for being single.

13. You don’t owe anyone a date just because they asked.
Someone might be nice, good looking and you may even be a little interested, but you don’t owe them a date just because they ask. If you feel deep down you don’t want to go on that date, then don’t. You may offer a reason for declining, but keep it brief and stick to your decision.”  Or sex because they bought you dinner, or anything else along those lines.
14. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your decision about marriage.
Except maybe the other person involved, your spouse or spouse-hopeful.  And it’s always good to be able to explain it to yourself.

15. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your relationship choices.

 I think this is a similar thing to #14.   But I’d probably add that the exception to my exception is if there is abuse involved.  If there is abuse coming from another party of the relationship, no explanation is needed for termination the relationship.

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