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Love is Not Rude

Mini-Love-Lesson  #242

Synopsis: Our Renaissance of rudeness, secretly rude positive?; rudeness by intensity and variety; important or not, research into rudeness; rudeness against health and love; translation issues; a big Buddhist helper; and how it all effects your love life are all delved into here.

Note: This is the sixth in our series on a New Testament reply to the question What Is Love? (see “Love Is Patient”,  “Love Is Kind”,  “Love Is Not Jealous”,  “Love Is Not Boastful/Pretentious”, and  “Love Is Not Arrogant” ) Look for number seven in this series next month.

Our Renaissance of Rudeness And Your Love Life

Social analysts describe us as currently living in a spreading Renaissance of Rudeness slowly invading the personal lives of more and more people, especially those living in the urban centers of the world.  Some theorize it is a counter to previous formality, phony politeness and political correctness trends.  There is also a suspected tendency for more and more people to act emotionally hypersensitive as a way for acquiring a sense of permission to rudely guilt trip blaming others for their own bad feelings.

Other analysts point to data indicating low self-confidence and weak ego strength problems which seem to be growing at epidemic rates.  With that rudeness, also growing is an easy way to pretend to have social strength.  Others believe the Rudeness Renaissance is just a passing fad, destructive though it may be.

Whatever the reason, the research shows rudeness to be destructive to love and love relationships, detrimental to stress resistance and stress illness recovery, harmful to cooperative functioning at home and at work, to creative problem solving, and to the neurochemistry of happiness.  All this proves true for not only the participants but for onlookers and bystanders of rudeness events..  Children especially are suspected of being particularly susceptible.  It would seem the love relationships of everyone who experiences or perpetrates moderate to severe actions of rudeness suffers more than they gain, if they gain anything.

Are You Secretly Rude Positive?

Do you or some people you know secretly enjoy rudeness?  Some people find rudeness sexy, funny, they may see it as being confident, independent, unfettered, rebellious, nonconformist and socially powerful?  Others think rudeness is realness and everything else is phony.  Then there are those who are very attracted to the people who frequently exhibit especially shocking or clever rudeness.

Rude-crude sex especially is in demand in certain circles as is rough-tough love which may subconsciously project strength, intensity and even safeguarding potential to some.  Those raised in overly formal or polite, but restrictive, homes may find a sense of relaxed freedom mixing with the more rude and crude.  There are those who feel a pressure of unfamiliarity around the more polite and civil acting but are at ease with the less couth.

The problem is rudeness tends to eventually wear thin and become destructive to love relationships even where rudeness is seen as desirable.

What Is and Is Not Rude?

Rudeness can mean anything that belittles another person.  Purposeful rudeness is a form of social aggression where another person’s value is attacked and discounted or treated as being of inferior significance.  More potent rudeness can mean showing contempt, scorn, disregard, disdain and indifference.  Strong rudeness also can be demeaning, degrading, humiliating, embarrassing, shaming, discrediting, debasing, devaluing, cheapening, insulting and condescending.

Rudeness also can mean acting or speaking in ways that those who see or hear it judge it to be selfish, disgraceful, indecent, dishonorable, boorish, unkind, undemocratic, interruptive, impolite, discomforting and definitely non-loving.  Milder rudeness may be merely discourteous, ill mannered, uncivil, churlish,, harsh, gruff, blunt, tactless, ungracious, curt or course.  Done repeatedly these milder forms also can be quite destructive, especially to ongoing love relationships.

It is important to note that unintentional rudeness, accidental rudeness, mis-perceived and misinterpreted rudeness, as well as clashing cultural standards of rudeness also exists.

What is not rude, of course, is being polite, courteous, mannerly, respectful, gracious, tactful, cordial, affable, civil and amiable.  At a deeper level, any treatment of a person which conveys that they are of value and that they have importance and significance works in opposition to rudeness and is an asset to love relationships.

Is Rudeness Really All That Important?

There are those that wonder, of all the many more heinous behaviors, why would Paul single out or be inspired to select the relatively mild behavior of rudeness to comment on in his delineation of what love is and what love is not.  One answer is that in Paul’s world, rudeness may have been a really big deal, so much so that rudeness might even get you killed.  In that way and time, it may have been much like ghetto gang cultures where showing disrespect to the wrong people might also get you killed.

Another answer is that Paul’s Greek word “aschemonei” which gets translated as rude, meant a whole lot more than what we usually mean by the word rude today.  More fitting for current interpretations might be things like love is not abusive, vile, nasty, foul, vicious or wicked.  A third answer is that Paul may have understood that rudeness is much more insidiously destructive and antithetical to love than is generally recognized today.  (Note that some biblical translators do not interpret that Paul meant to mean rude, as we understand it today but rather something more like “love does not act disgracefully, indecently dishonorably, abusively”, etc.)

This more significant understanding of rudeness is backed up by modern research.  Did you know that some research shows you have a 94% likelihood of experiencing a counter getting even aggression response after treating someone rudely, if they feel they can retaliate safely?  Did you also know that if you are generally perceived as being a rude person, you have an 88% chance of being treated with exclusionary, distancing and sabotaging behaviors in interaction networks, including families and work settings?  Children and spouses tend to grow more emotionally distant and more likely tend to break off relationships with those more commonly rude than with those viewed as more polite.  However, rudeness is often forgiven when a person is perceived as experiencing a cascade of losses, disappointments, frustrations and/or defeats.

How Love Against Rudeness Can Work

Buddhists and Hindus call it “ Muditi” and learn it as being one of the four major mindsets of real love.  Muditi has to do with giving others love by presenting them with yourself as a happy, positive person to be with.  This can mean being your genuine best self by having authentic joy, a positive countenance, pleasant thoughtfulness and, of course, not being at all rude.  If something more serious is occurring, being kind and compassionate takes over but otherwise presenting your Muditi love is your everyday love-gift to others.  This Muditi way can be obtained by purposeful practice but never by being phony.

Research shows this is a very good, healthy self-love way to go about much of life, as well as being quite healthy for those around you.  Having a general loving, positive, happy, appreciative, enjoyable countenance reduces stress hormone development, improves immunity mechanism functioning, improves relational cooperation and harmony and contributes to a whole lot of other healthy habit-making behaviors.  Muditi is much more than politeness or civility.  It is a way to actually love others as you love yourself in ordinary day-to-day living.  As such, Muditi is a greater opposite to being rude, as well as to being indifferent and just functioning robotically.  By the way, some of my theolog friends comment that the Muditi approach is quite compatible with Christianity.

Functioning from a Muditi mindset when encountering rudeness also can be quite disarming and game changing in otherwise difficult situations.  For more about Muditi, and there is a lot more to it, you might want to look up Buddha’s Four Minds of Love and read Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hahn.

One More Little Thing

Who might you enjoy talking with about this mini-love-lessons on rudeness and love? If you do that, it would be a polite kindness to us if you mentioned this site and all that it offers.

As always Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: How aware do you think you are of times and of actions that others, especially loved ones, might think you are being rude and what might you want to do about that?

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