Saturday, September 19, 2009

Using People

So I've been thinking about this a lot for the past few days. It seems like no matter where you turn, people are using other people. Is it necessarily a bad thing to use someone? I think to a certain extent yes, but to another extent no.

Now, this is the part where it gets tricky. We all use people. If you deny that well, you're wrong. We need people to survive! At the very basic level, we use people when we are buying our groceries. We didn't grow them ourselves. But on a more substantial level, we use people in order to get basic psychological needs met. This includes the need to be loved, to be cared for, and to be intimate.

I recently had someone get quite upset with me because they felt that I had used them. Well, it's true that I had used that person. But I did not go into that relationship thinking to myself, "hmm, I wonder how I can suck the life out of this person, get everything that I possibly can, and then leave them in the dust..." Heavens no! I tried to explain to him that I valued our friendship because it gives me an opportunity to be emotionally intimate with someone else. And I suppose that means using that person to meet a basic biological need of being intimate. I don't know why he felt like me trying to be emotionally intimate was using him but...I digress.

My point here is that I think we are all a little too quick to jump into the blame game. If something goes wrong or something doesn't quite feel right, we start pointing fingers at the nearest target. I don't think this is necessary.

For example, a man at my work, who I had always known to be single and a really nice guy, was caught trying to date someone from work. As it turns out, my "single" friend is actually married. I was quite shocked to find that out. But then I realized that it didn't really matter. Now I am not saying that I approve of his choice to date women outside of marriage. What I am trying to say is that it is not my right nor my place to judge that man. How can I judge him when I know nothing of his circumstances, and nothing of what he's going through? I can't and I won't.

Our lives and our hearts are connected to others for a reason. We could not survive in this world alone. It has been shown in study after study that in order for a person to maintain a healthy persona, they must have regular social interaction. This may include using someone to vent to, using someone to pull a prank and have fun, or using someone to be physically or emotionally intimate.

Okay, so I think that's all I really have to say about that subject so I think I'll step down off my soap box now :)


  1. Isn't the definition of a friend "anyone you can talk with openly about your fears, concerns, beliefs, aspirations and goals, without worrying that they will judge you"? Or can you only be emotionally intimate with a subset of your friends?

  2. For me, the term "using another" should be limited to situations where one person manipulates another for personal gain, with no concern for the needs, feelings and interests of the other. Otherwise we might say, incorrectly, that Mother Theresa "used" the poor of Calcutta to satisfy her need to make a difference and to serve God by serving the most destitute of His children. We were created by a wise Heavenly Father with personal needs that can only be met by serving each other. I don't profess to know what hell will be like, but in my view, it will be populated by those who develop the twisted belief system that their needs can only be met by exploiting others and by denying others the opportunity to satisfy their needs. I would prefer the term "using others" to have only negative connotations, and the terms "friendship", "brotherhood", "sisterhood" and "family" to reflect situations where we meet our own needs by serving others.

  3. Yes I do believe you gave an excellent definition but I do not believe that everyone we come in contact with is capable of living that definition. It is when we are bearing our souls to our friends that we find out who the true ones are and which ones simply can't handle it. It's not necessarily a bad thing that someone can't help you. They just may not be adequately prepared for such a task.