Wednesday, March the 22nd, 2006

Today’s post might seem totally random, but it’s a question that has been irking me for a while. I am going to make up fictitious names in my articulation, because it’s easier for me to express myself this way; and besides, it’s no fun getting sued.

Meet Jack. As it turns out, people around him tend to regard him as a good, patient, non-judgmental, supportive listener, and a soothing, steady shoulder to lean on. This in itself is not a problem, and is in fact quite wonderful, as Jack is a calm and caring person who enjoys “being there” for people. Apart from serving as a willing crutch however, Jack is an intelligent, creative person who happily goes about his own interests, but doesn’t find himself emotionally-evolved or socially-skilled enough to build anything of substance with the people he cares about.

Let’s now turn our attention to Jill. For the most part, Jill is an independent, smart young woman who leads a rich life. But, like everyone else’s, Jill’s life is not nearly perfect, and she finds herself confiding in and leaning on Jack when she’s down, because he’s approachable and his supportive presence soothes her.

And finally, we have Phil. I don’t have too much to say about Phil, except that it’s his presence that’s going to add a twist to this tale. As it so happens, Jill and Phil are “an item”, and they’ve been together for a long time. It’s just, Phil doesn’t really treat Jill all that well anymore; and this is the cause of much concern for Jill, in her otherwise wonderful life.

As you may have guessed, this is also a topic of conversation she brings up often when with Jack, because of the nature of their relationship.

The problem for Jack, as time marches, is a (misplaced?) sense of guilt that’s steadily growing within him. Jill is getting more and more cosy with Jack, and slowly getting more revealing—and he’s unsure if this constitutes some weird form of cheating. Even if it were, he isn’t the one attached, and it’s Jill who ought to feel her insides being eaten at, right? After all, isn’t she the one who’s (emotionally) straying from Phil? It’s not like Jack did anything special to get her to open up to him; he’s this way with everyone. Why isn’t she just talking to Phil instead?

None of these facts seem to matter to Jack. He’s feeling sick, like a witting enabler… like he’s the callous “other woman”—without the pleasure of any of the naughty bits.

The question, really, is whose fault is the confusing scene described above? Why should Jack—who’s doing nothing more than being the sensitive support—end up being the one with the sick feeling in his tummy? It’s not like he’s trying to ensnare Jill, or even particularly drawn to her in the first place.

This is a printer-friendly version of the journal entry “On being Jack” from actuality.log. Visit to read the original entry and follow any responses to it.

4 Responses to “On being Jack”

  1. anita says:

    i think it’s quite possible that jill thinks of jack only as a friend and nothing else (might depend on what specifically is meant by “getting more and more cozy”). sometimes a gal just needs someone to confide in, and it’s easier to do so with someone that you don’t have feelings for in that way. in this case, jack has no reason to feel sick.

    however, if jack really gets the feeling that jill is developing feelings for him, then yeah i guess it’s just natural to feel bad about it…just as it feels bad when someone is into you and thinks you like them too, but you don’t. doesn’t matter if there is another person (phil) or not – you just feel bad if you unintentionally lead someone on and/or worry that you might have to disappoint them.

  2. pUl| says:

    I get the odd feeling, that we ran into a similar situation couple years ago. Apparently nothing much has changed if that is true.

    “As you may have guessed, this is also a topic of conversation she brings up often when with Jack, because of the nature of their relationship.”

    This is the point where Jack needs to use his extraordinary skills[1] (so to speak) and gently, yet firmly let Madame Jill know that it is most appropriate to discuss such issues with Sir Phil directly. However hard this may be, it needs to be done; unless of course I’m reading a story script written for a recent Bollywood flick!

    [1] Being the intelligent, creative person that he claims to be…

  3. pundit says:

    anita: I think you’re spot on; as usual.

    I went back and forth on that “getting more and more cosy” line for about 15 minutes, before I decided to keep it in there for ambiguity. The queasy-o-meter in my belly skyrocketed as I tried to clarify the situation in my head.

    As intelligent and perceptive as they normally are, this is one area where Jack (in his limited experience) “just knows” that women cannot clearly separate someone who cares for them (and is willing to show it by spending much time, putting up with all sorts of whinging …) and someone who is into them. Jack is fairly certain his behaviour is leading Jill on, he’s evolved to more than just “someone to confide in” and he’ll have to end up hurting her—when all he wanted was to not see her down in the first place.

    I wouldn’t want to be Jack right now.

  4. pundit says:

    pUl|: You know what? I’m thoroughly impressed. We did run into the exact same situation a couple of years ago; except that it was a different Jill, in uh … my life, and not Jack’s.

    You see, the way men like Jack go about living their lives, they seem to attract the same sort of Jills in the same sort of capacity. As easy as it sounds to say, “This is inappropriate, run along home and sort it out with Phil, Jill,” when she’s all teared up beside you, it is hard to effect.

    It almost feels nice to Jack to be the soothing, steady aspect of her life. He just assumes that Jill won’t read into it; even if they never don’t.

8,942,088 people conned into wasting their bandwidth.