Altruism is for Suckers

Sometimes I think I’m a bad person. Not because I think I’m dumb. All standard measures would say I’m above average in the noggin department. Not because I’m selfish. Not many people can keep up with me in the generosity department. Not because I’m a jerk. If I was a jerk, I wouldn’t have ended up so many different lady’s “girlfriend” or “best friend.” Jerks always end up getting the girl… in the biblical sense. Not me.

I’ve noticed over the course of my life that most of my friends eventually drift away (or leave abruptly for whatever reason). It’s probably typical. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say I necessarily miss all of them. I’d certainly never claim that I didn’t cause or at least contribute to the problems. However, as a giving person, I tend to give people more chances when they screw up. Sometimes many more than wisdom would dictate.

But I must not be normal, because in almost every case where I’ve screwed up, I’ve not been given a second chance. There is one notable exception… a girl who I stopped talking to for all the wrong reasons, who ended up giving me a chance when I finally stopped being dumb. She knows who she is, and for that reason I hold her in very high esteem. I’d go so far as to say she’s my best friend. (assuming we put the girlfriend into a category of her own) Even though I hadn’t been very stellar to her, she was the one person there when I was at the end of my rope.

So yes, have I experience what it means to have someone still care about me after a screwup? Yes. But once in a lifetime is not a very good success ratio.

In a lot of cases though, people drifted through no fault of my own. I would attempt to keep up contact, I hadn’t ever given them a reason to go. They just decided I was a waste of time. I literally had a friend several years ago who said the following: “I can’t be your friend anymore because we like each other too much.” What the heck does that even mean? Does it mean she “like” liked me and I just didn’t notice? Who knows. Who even cares? It’s been long enough that I really don’t care. I don’t think I’d spit on her if she was on fire.

Eventually you just have to acknowledge that most people care 100% only about themselves. Most people will always choose what they want over what they know you want.

I think that means that altruism is the trait of a foolish optimist… a sucker. If 99% of the people in the world care solely about themselves, there’s no way to beat them… all you can do is look out for numero uno.

I’m not saying. I’m just saying.

  9 comments for “Altruism is for Suckers

  1. August 8, 2006 at 11:01 am

    Jeepers, dahling … what’s with the dark mood? Do you need a hug? It’s good to know that I don’t belong to the “most people” category because then I’d have wasted most of my life caring about and for others!

  2. August 8, 2006 at 11:28 am

    Altruism is an excellent word. Remember: fat kids DO grow into the best sort of adults.

  3. August 8, 2006 at 12:51 pm

    xoxo

  4. August 8, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    Hubby has a ‘one strike, you’re out’ policy with women. I’d like to say he has the same policy with friends but he doesn’t have any. It’s not that he can’t make friends; everytime we go out he sees someone he knows and they speak and such. It’s just that he basically hates people and doesn’t give a shit.

    Where does the “give Incredipete a big hug” line begin?

  5. August 8, 2006 at 8:31 pm

    Incredipete, I would agree that altruism is for suckers. Most people are takers. If someone is willing to give, the takers will take until there is just an empty husk left of the altruistic one. Even families will use up the family member who is willing to give. However, there is joy in giving and I think the key is to give what you are happy to give, but don’t live your life for other people, because they are certainly not going to live theirs for you.

    This is a good policy in career too. Never believe there is any such thing as employer to employee loyalty. It does not exist. If my boss could get someone who could produce like I produce for 5K less a year, he’d toss me out like last week’s chicken salad. People who are extremely loyal to their company instead of looking out for their own best interests get screwed over.

    And…. here’s my observations about friends… in every relationship it seems that one friend is really a better friend than the other. In some of my friendships, I am the better friend. In others, I’m not as good a friend as that person is to me. You are probably a really good friend. I think long time friends go in cycles of one friend being a better friend than the other. I was not a very good friend to my life long best girlfriend Teresa. I took her boyfriend from her once. But later, I grew up and became a better friend to her than she was to me. And now I think we are about even. It’s that way in marriage too. The trick is to not fall out of love at the same time. 🙂

    I think people naturally come and go in our lives and sometimes a friendship is just there for a certain purpose. Once that purpose is fulfilled it fades away.

    Bill Cosby says when people owe you money, they find a reason to be mad at you, so if you are very giving, you might be experiencing some of that. People are crappy.

    I don’t know why I’m rambling so much. Let me shut up now. 😀

  6. Rectal failure
    August 9, 2006 at 9:06 am

    “I can’t be your friend anymore because we like each other too much.”

    That means they are telling you to fuck off. They don’t like you but since you haven’t given them a tangiable reason to hate you or cause a fight, they toss this shit at you.

  7. BJD
    August 9, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    I think you have to guard yourself against the many takers out there, as well as against the people who are for a time (or forever) broken and will grab hold like a leach. But I don’t think you can let them control those of us who want to be more positive and generous and focused on something other than our own little pettiness.
    They’re wrong. And we shouldn’t let the bad guys win. We shouldn’t let them turn us into them.

    The key isn’t to be generous or guarded, but to be generous AND guarded. I like the comment about giving what you are comfortable giving and then stopping, and not letting others dictate our level of generosity (through demanding or manipulating or emotional blackmailing or whatever). And it makes a whole lot of sense to understand that in every relationship the amount each person is able/willing to give is going to change over time, up and down. And we have to know when someone is just a parasite and has to be pushed away.

    But basically, I’m going to keep being altruistic because it’s the best thing for me as well as for others. Even though most of them don’t deserve it.

    p.s. Add me into your “I know you messed up but I still care about you a boatload” column.

  8. Rectal failure
    August 10, 2006 at 9:50 am

    Also, if you find many folks telling you “you’re too nice” The sad truth is, to them they see you as being a doormat, and that you are willing to over accomodate them. This is a quality that most of the “good guys” lament, but in the cold light of reality, it means the don’t respect you.

    Why?

    Speaking in generalities, (as opposed to speciifcally about you) you may want to take a private, hard, honest look at why they see that in you. Most of the times, it’s guys turn into “puppy dogs” and don’t want to offend, stand up, or like to avoid conflict. Sometimes it shows up as desperation, lonilenss, weak. Now to couter act that, it’s not being an ass, but being a strong individual.

    Or these girls are simply whores.

  9. HRT
    August 12, 2006 at 8:41 am

    If someone asks “A penny for your thoughts?” And you then put your “two cents in” what happens to that extra penny?

    It’s good to see the old pessimistic comIncredipetetastic is back in the building. I think that all people come to love or lothe the person that they spend the most time with. And for all of us that one person is ourselves.

    There’s an old joke: Whats the difference between a bitch and a ho. A ho gives it up to everyone, a bitch gives it up to everyone, except you.

    The only thing worse than someone who is totally selfish, who gives only to themself, is the person who is infinitely generous and gives to everyone everyone except you.

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