Derek Sivers

Meta-considerate

2019-10-03

My friend has a huge crush on someone.

He showers her with attention and appreciation. He remembers her preferences, and constantly gives her thoughtful gifts.

He thinks he’s being considerate, but he’s actually being inconsiderate. Meta-inconsiderate.

By holding her up on a pedestal — by making it clear that he looks up to her — he’s making her look down on him.

People want a romantic partner that’s a “catch” — someone almost out of their league. We want a good deal. We want to win someone.

By chasing her relentlessly, he’s denying her the pleasure of desire.

He’s not letting her dance. Since he keeps pushing forward, there’s nowhere for her to go but backward. He’s not letting her come to him.

Being superficially considerate can be deeply inconsiderate. Doing the opposite is often ultimately more considerate. I call it meta-considerate.

Meta-considerate by contrast:

It’s considerate to not bore my friends with my problems. But it’s meta-considerate to tell them my problems, to let them feel needed and helpful, to let them know they’re safe to do the same.

It’s considerate to greet someone with a smile. But it’s meta-considerate to not smile until they’ve said something, so they can feel that smile was sincerely for them, not presented to just anyone.

It’s considerate to tell a white lie. But it’s meta-considerate to tell the uncomfortable truth.

More meta-considerate examples:

Our shallow wants and deeper needs are often opposite.