It’s not the blatant acts of disrespect or rejection that hurt us the most, it’s the subtle gestures that leave room for doubt or interpretation that leave deep scars.
Nuance thrives in those subtle gestures because nuance is what allows us to avoid conflict, or resist commitment. It allows us a graceful exit for just-in-case so that we can claim that we didn’t mean it that way, or that they misunderstood.
Nuance is the art of saying more than you’re willing to say without actually saying it. Like the subtle brush of your hand against your partner in company when a full-blown embrace or heavy patting may be frowned upon. Or perhaps when you smile a half smile and don’t return the kiss to avoid an argument.
Nuance allows us to test boundaries, and to test our significance in someone else’s life. We throw subtle hints about what we want, but won’t speak out openly about it because we don’t want to create reason for doubt within ourselves about whether they responded out of obligation, or because they sincerely wanted to make us happy.
Nuance allows us to see if someone is ready to accept what we want to offer, without actually offering it, so that we protect ourselves from a hurtful rejection.
There are parts of who we are that we’ve embraced so fiercely that no amount of ridicule will ever shame us about it. But there are parts of ourselves that we hide because we want to only give that one special person the power to handle it. It defines the sanctity of who we are, and solemnises the trust that we wish to place in them.
It’s a vulnerability that we embrace and cherish because in its handling lies the essence of the bond that we wish to share with that special one.
It’s the expectation willingly courted that holds the joy of fulfilment if fulfilled, or destroys hope if left hopelessly ignored.
Once spoken, doubt is subdued and expectation justified.
The unspoken word has destroyed more hope and created more angst than any revelation of love, or its denial.
If left unspoken, it remains a torture within, without any claim to relief from the one in whose hands your joy rests, waiting to be roused into being.
Perhaps it is in our efforts to protect ourselves or others through withholding what we don’t wish to impose on them that we destroy the very joy that we hope they will find without us, or us without them.