joreth: (being wise)
A really large portion of people want validation that their partner wronged them in some way.  They tell long, sordid stories and ask if they're justified in accusing their partner of violating some rule or agreement or if it "counts" as "cheating".  I get it.  I've done that too.  I continue to struggle with this.  But I've observed that this doesn't really accomplish anything.  It mostly serves to make the questioner feel "right", and it's almost always used as ammunition:  "Everyone else thinks you're wrong, therefore, you're the bad guy".

I'm the first one standing up defending labels and categorization.  I just don't think that most of us actually *use* labels and categorization for efficiency, which is their point.  I think we use them more like weapons.

As that meme goes, any cat owner can tell you the difference between trying to put someone in a box they don't want to fit into vs. fitting oneself into a box of one's choosing.  When we're looking for self-identifying labels, they're pretty useful.  When we're discussing abstract concepts, ideals, social constructs, etc., they're also pretty useful.

But when we seek to label *someone else*, particularly while feeling some kind of negative emotion about that person, the label is sometimes useful (such as warning others about some kind of threat) and sometimes less useful.  Sometimes, it's more about ego, about hubris, about revenge, about punitive action, about gratification, about in/out group tribalism, things like that.

What purpose does labeling a person or a behaviour serve?  Are you trying to identify the source of a problem?  To fix it?  To prevent it in the future?  To warn others?  To educate others?

Or do you want to look good in someone's eyes by comparison?  To look "wronged"?  To harm them?  To punish them?  As a parting shot to have the last word?  To absolve yourself of wrongdoing?  To justify your own actions as a response to theirs?

Is this label intended to fix or solve, or is intended to harm or restrict?  If you're really brutally honest with yourself and you look deep enough, most of the time this post hoc labeling of someone or their behaviour is meant to harm them in some way.  It can be used to make mutual acquaintances "take sides" and it can make people come to your defense (which puts them in opposition to the person being labeled).

The "harm" doesn't have to be very great. So what if one of your relatives, who has never met your partner, now thinks your partner is kind of a douche?  If you both go your separate ways, they might not ever even know that Great Auntie Beatrice kinda thinks they're not good enough for you.

But *you* know that someone else knows that your partner was a Bad Person this time. And, for whatever reason, that feels good.

So people unload intimate details about another person so that others will know this thing happened.  And I think this is a bigger problem, connected in ways to other things somehow that I haven't quite articulated just yet.  I'm starting to see part of a pattern.  It's like one of those remove-the-tile games, where I've pulled one tile off and I can see part of a picture, and it's clear that it's only part of a picture, but all the other tiles are still covering it up.

I'll uncover this pattern eventually. But for right now, it's something that I've noticed.

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