Shades of Gray

Also known as: On gray areas

“I have a question.” I said to my best friend one day some time after my brother’s wedding. We were walking down Maginhawa Street in UP Diliman in search for a restaurant aptly named Gayuma ni Maria. I say “apt” because of the nature of my question then.


I told him the story of a friend who got back with an ex who broke up with her because he wasn’t ready for a commitment yet. However, the guy seemed to change his mind and decided to pursue her again but not in the same pursuit fashion that I qualify as a real pursuit. Anyway, she said yes and they’re back together and it had me a bit baffled, so I knew I had to discuss that in length with someone who knows better. “I can’t really understand why she’d get back with him after he told her that,” I remember saying. “I mean…why did he even pursue her if he wasn’t ready for a commitment? And why did he even try again so soon — how sure was she that he’s ready now?”

“Uh-huh.” It was all my best friend could say because he knew I still had stuff to say. And he was right.

“But she’s happy,” I said with a small sigh. “And I know that’s important. More important. I just don’t get it. Is this something I don’t understand because I haven’t been there yet?”

My best friend nodded thoughtfully. “Well, probably. It is very different when you’re in the relationship. And…well, relationships are messy. It’s never black and white.”

“Mostly gray, right?” I said, then laughed. “Strike one for the single since birth, I guess.”

People say I have I have high standards when it comes to relationships…and they are probably right. Well color me naive because I’ve never been to the other side of the fence, anyway. But come on girls, we all had that fairy tale dreams of a prince rescuing a damsel in distress (or a plain damsel, even if you’re not in distress). We all dream of the guy sweeping us off our feet, making a lot of effort to get win your heart, so and so and so. We’ve all had that, right? Tell me I’m not alone in this one!

I think this is what being a voracious reader has made me. Fiction has made me set some expectations in real life relationships that…well, just doesn’t exist sometimes. Or most of the times. I want my own Captain Wentworth who would write me a letter that tells me I “pierce his soul”. I want a Wes Baker who’d ask me questions and walk with me. I want a Kevin Novak who’d defend me from his family who wants someone else for him. But those fictional guys don’t exist…so where does that leave me?

These expectations I’ve set for myself are unfortunately projected to the people around me that sometimes I feel miffed when I have friends who’d do seemingly…well, stupid stuff in my dictionary. I don’t mean to be harsh; I’m just really messed up, I think. And maybe a bit overprotective.

But I’m working on it. I’m trying my best to understand with my limited point of view, and hope that when it’s my turn, I would get it better. I still don’t understand everything, although I did get an epiphany last week.

Last week, I saw an old friend change her relationship status to Engaged over Facebook. It wasn’t until the weekend that I got to confirm it, so I only got to congratulate her over chat by Monday. The engagement was kind of surprising because they had a bad breakup sometime mid-2010, and I thought they wouldn’t get back together. A few months later, I saw them walking together so I assumed they did, and then engagement.

I was happy for them, of course, and as we chatted, I saw that she was really happy and they were working their old issues out. I know the reasons for their break-up last year was kind of bad, and if I were in her place, I don’t think I would’ve gotten back with the guy. But I’m not her. And I don’t know how it feels to break up with someone you’ve been with for three years, someone you’ve seen yourself with forever. I don’t know how it feels. So who knows how I would react if I were there, right? Frankly, when I found out they got back together, I couldn’t understand how and why she got back with him. But…like I said, what do I know right?

Like I said, she was happy. And they were determined to work on their issues. And they have forgiven each other. And then I was reminded of something I’ve been hearing and trying to live out ever since college: it is better to be loving than to be right. It’s so easy to say what is right, what is supposed to be done, what is the correct thing to do…but it’s never easy to choose to be loving. Especially when it doesn’t make sense and when it hurts.

But when you think about it…loving is the right thing to do. Always.

And that’s what my friends chose, in both examples.

And that’s what I should always choose, too.

I still don’t think I understand gray areas fully. I don’t think I will until I get there. But my best friend is right: relationships are different. They’re messy, complicated, and they’re never really what the books or movies tell us they are. It would never be what I expect it to be, and I really should just kill those expectations.

Gray areas aren’t bad. Sometimes they can be beautiful too, right? And I’d like t believe what one of my favorite authors said:

You know, when it works, love is pretty amazing. It’s not overrated. There’s a reason for all those songs.

Because in the end, I think I just need to let love win. :)

One thought to “Shades of Gray”

  1. Bang! Hit the nail on the head right there, no? Fantasy is the dashing prince saving the damsel in distress. Reality is the remorseful prince on his knees before the princess, begging for forgiveness, admitting that he was wrong, and working out the issues, because he loves her so much.

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