The Silent Relationships

An interesting thought occurred to me the other day while I was on the bus going to class. I was sitting next to a woman and due to the large number of people riding that day it was cramped and everyone had to squeeze as best they could. This closeness, which broke down the personal space bubble that is the norm in American society, got me thinking. What if there are some people who feel so alone that even the short time of being on the bus next to someone, feeling their leg touching yours, was comforting to them?

The intimacy of relationships with others isn’t something we think about often, but when we hug a friend, shake a hand, or give a friendly punch on the shoulder to a buddy we are engaging in an intimate act. Each time we do that it can strengthen a bond and these types of interactions make us feel appreciated and loved. But what about people who feel cut off from the rest of the world? Do they take these intimate acts for granted too or do they even experience them at all? Does something as simple as a bus ride with a familiar face or a interaction with someone at a grocery store mean so much more to them?

Some people (notably the elderly) often shop at the same store for the majority of their needs even if that place doesn’t offer the best service or have the best prices. Many times it is the (perceived) relationship that that person has with the stores employees that keeps them coming back. To those men and women shopping is not just a chore, but a social experience where they can see people they know and feel the kind of intimacy that we all crave. These are often the silent relationships, the ones that people take pleasure and comfort in without the other person knowing.

This may sound creepy, and it can be taken too far, but is it really that far out of the ordinary? Stopping after work at a gas station and being recognized and acknowledged by the attendant. Enjoying your co-workers talking (but not complaining) about their kids or their family. Saying hello or a quick word of thanks to the janitor. Everyday occurrences to us but to someone else it might have a deeper impact.

Do you know anyone like this? Maybe they don’t have many friends or they are dealing with depression or some other emotional issue. Sometimes we are all guilty of treating them as an annoyance and trying to distance ourselves. I’m not saying that you have to go out of your way to cater to someone’s  every whim or try and fix their lives, but a simple act of kindness, or the effort to make them a familiar, friendly acquaintance can go a long way. We all see our relationships in different ways and I think if we considered the value that other people derive from a relationship it would do us good. Instead of considering in a selfish way what you can get out of it, try and be a person who gives in your relationships. You may just find that you mean more to the other person than you realized, or even the other way around.

I’m not really even sure where I was going with this post to be honest, but it has been rolling around in my brain for a while now and I thought I would get it out and published. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Am I just insane? Well maybe don’t answer that last question. 😉 Leave a comment below with any thoughts or comments!


One thought on “The Silent Relationships

  1. Pop

    Human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. Donne was a Christian but this concept is shared by other religions, principally Buddhism.

    This is a quotation from John Donne (1572-1631). It appears in Devotions upon emergent occasions and seuerall steps in my sicknes – Meditation XVII, 1624:

    “All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

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