On liking people

As a rule my approach to people has been lukewarm at best. It has been summed up by a friend as the ‘everyone’s an enemy I haven’t met’ approach. I would perhaps not  go as far as ‘enemy’, but I generally treat unknown people in the way that most people treat large wild animals – it’s possible they’re safe, but you don’t go rushing up to them making any assumptions until you’ve tamed them slowly and they’ve refrained from eating you for at least a few years, ideally longer.

But as with so much else in my personality, things seem to be changing.

In my riding lesson I made a flippant comment to my instructor about having chosen him because he made me work harder than the other instructors. He replied, ‘Oh, I though it was because you liked me.’

Naturally this threw me, so I regaled him with a thrilling account of the list making process involved in chosing an instructor and trotted off to the far end of the school, thus changing the subject. (So much easier to get out of an awkward conversation when you’re on a nice fast horse!) By the time I’d got back round to where he was standing I’d put the matter out of my mind. But it’s been niggling at me since, in the way that such things do.

Here’s a sample of my internal dialogue on the matter. Thoughts my traditional character are in green and those in my newer character are in purple.

It’s too soon to know if I like him – I’ve only had 2 non-consecutive hours to get to know him – it’ll take another 12 months at least.

Whether I like him is irrelevant to both of us – he’s paid to be here, I’m paying to be here.

I wouldn’t make a decision on something so important based on liking someone – you can like someone who can’t teach for toffee, but that doesn’t mean you can learn anything from them.  But would it be so unreasonable to make a decision on those grounds? For him to have made the comment suggests that some would see that as a valid reason.

Did I take liking the instructors into account when choosing? It wasn’t on my lists but it might have been in my subconscious.

Is that why I found it hard to choose between two of them in particular – do I like those two more? No, I’m just less wary of those two. Hmm, are you sure?

It may be possible that I do like him. But I’m not sure what it feels like to like someone you don’t know. I don’t have any reference points. How am I supposed to know?

So here I am, wondering if there’s going to be a revolution in the way I feel about people; wondering if I’m going to get the hang of making decisions about people using time scales smaller than years and months. This isn’t a change I’ve set out to make, it’s just an organic one that’s grown from other changes I did chose. I’m not going to force it, but I’m not going to fight it either. If people had “like” buttons on their heads, I wouldn’t be going mad clicking them just yet, but I’m not as averse to the idea of doing so as I would have been a few months ago.

Image: Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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