I mentioned my mostly stoic but sometimes incredibly over-emotional acquaintance in a previous post. We were going to move to another city together but that fell through for many reasons, not the least of which being that I realized that he was attempting to use me for emotional support that I am simply unwilling to give. Yes, I led him on regarding the move and I suppose I’ve led him on this past week in which I’ve kept quiet and left him with false hope that a move was still in the works. He’s the kind that threatens suicide whenever things do not go his way, but he also threatens suicide whenever he’s depressed. I bring all of this up, because when I break the news to him that we are not moving, I suspect that he will, once again, threaten suicide. Now, this does not concern me much other than it would violate my general principle (these days) of avoiding harm for others when possible. I brought all of this up to my therapist who relayed the following to me, the point of this post. “We can influence others, but they are the sole arbiters of control and choice in their lives.”
If we can influence others, but others ultimately have their own choices, then what responsibility do we have to remain prosocial with those around us? Are we free from any “sin” when it comes to our influence over others? We may be off the hook as a result of choice residing solely with others, but we should still aim to do as little harm as possible; it is in our self-interest. This mirrors the goals of restraint and prudence that should be with any person, antisocial or not. Maybe we aren’t responsible for the ultimate choices of others, but we can make our own lives more difficult or easier based on our own choices that may or may not influence others. I am no fool, however, and I realize that I will succumb – as would any psychopath or otherwise antisocial – to desire and manipulate those around me at some point. If we have two certainties, my antisocial predilection and another’s responsibility for their own choices, then who wins? The antisocial, of course.
I’ve written a few times now about the role that the host has in a parasitic relationship. To quickly summarize those previously made points, we should recall that it is the host’s responsibility to destroy the parasite; the parasite is merely doing what it its evolutionary niche dictates. If I can influence as a means of furthering my own wants and needs then I should not be blamed when another uses their choice to their own detriment. I am not responsible for the comfort of another while looking out for myself. If my friend does kill himself because I abandoned ship, I will lose no sleep. If my friend has no saving grace in my absence, I will lose no sleep. While I may have been less than ethical with my handling of the (non-existent) moving situation, it is not my responsibility to ensure that he is taken care of at the end of the day. He’s known for quite a while that I am antisocial, he should have known better than to become subject to my influence. Any fault resides with him, not me. He should have squashed the mosquito before he contracted disease. The same can be said in any interaction involving antisocials. We may have influence, but our “victims” have choice.