Thursday, September 10, 2009

9-10-09: Kindness vs. Niceness

My buddy broke the unfortunate news to me today that he'd broken up with his girlfriend of a little more than a year. They'd recently moved in together, and things just didn't work out.

I began to think to myself that, for whatever stupid reason, I could "see it coming." But I'm not really sure if that's just me using the break-up as a proof to a theory I formed... after the break-up. One of those hindsight sort of deals. But anyway, that's not what I ended up thinking about.

The now ex-girlfriend was a lot of fun. Her and my buddy hit it off pretty quickly, and things seemed to move pretty fast. Just a couple weeks into their dating, I remember asking him if he still felt like looking for an apartment (I was planning on moving and was looking for a roommate). He told me he was "keeping his options open," which I took as a sign that things certainly were moving quite quickly.

Their move-in was settled months in advance (over four months in fact), which was surprising. But the strange part was, while helping them move, their reasoning and attitudes about living together. My buddy told me it would just make things easier, since they already hung out a lot (practically every night). Not exactly the standard reasoning, but I didn't object. And, to add to this peculiar move-in, the girl told me "I've had a pretty bad history with roommates, so we'll see how this goes." Not exactly a promising outlook going into it.

Then I began to ponder about the girl's personality. I'd seen her in primarily social settings, pretty much exclusively with my buddy, for about 15 months. She's a Yale PhD student, so she's obviously quite bright. My buddy's no slouch, either. And they seemed to really get along together.

Then the thought occurred to me, partly stemmed from various discussions I've had with another of my good friends, who had dated the girl in college (yes, she dated friends, just years apart, who went to the same college), that the girl seemed to put on a nice face, but I don't really know if I ever saw her exhibit kindness. I mean, they bought each other things, and ate in classy restaurants relatively regularly. My buddy has been working pretty long hours for several months now, so he can afford it. I never saw her as a drain or a leach or anything like that. I don't want to say she is, either, despite their relationship ending.

I think it's important, at least in relationships I've had, to be with some one who exhibits kindness as opposed to niceness. There's a subtle, but important, difference between the two. Kindness, to me, is a deeper trait that a person HAS. Niceness is just a temporary state; like "putting on a good face." I like to think of the phrase "you kids play nice, now." Some one can be a kind person who does nice things, yes. They don't cancel each other out. And sure, a kind person can be a jerk at times. But some one who isn't naturally kind (a.k.a. a selfish person) can simply be nice and get away with it in superficial settings. To be fair, I'm not saying my buddy's now ex-girlfriend is not a kind person by any stretch. I just never really saw it. Maybe he did.

The good thing, for them, is that they're staying friends. In fact, they're still living together until he finds a place. I hope to be able to help him through this. I think it's the right thing to do.

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