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Do you remember the first time you talked about our future together and I said: “I’ll think about it later”? I lied. I lied that I can be with you forever and never leave. Do you remember our movie nights when you said how fun it would be if we’ll stay like this forever? I was afraid. Afraid, that I can’t stay like that forever. The kindness and love that you carry inside your heart can melt anyone. But why didn’t those three magical words try to come outside of me, ever wondered? The answer is commitment. Commitment, which forces you to stay there and stick. Commitment has always been a scary thought to me. Maybe I’m afraid of a forever. Do you think I’m the only one who tries to repel people who get too close to them?

(Story by Rashi Arora (@rashiousness) for The Scribbled Stories)

  • @terdon I think you may have misunderstood the subject of the question. – Mari-Lou A Sep 8 '17 at 11:52
  • @Mari-LouA perhaps, but I don't see why. The them here is being used as a gender-neutral pronoun. Consider am I the only person who tries to repel people who get too close to him?; that's the same construct, only using him instead of the neutral them. The them is not referring to people but to I. – terdon Sep 8 '17 at 11:56
  • @terdon but the OP is not asking if a gender neutral pronoun exists, he is asking about the meaning of this particular pronoun, in this text. The older question is clearly related, and helpful, but it is a different question. – Mari-Lou A Sep 8 '17 at 11:58
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    I did, but I think they're wrong. The them is not referring to the people but to I. You can easily see it by replacing the pronouns with the nouns: Do you think I'm the only one who tries to repel people who get too close to me/him/her? makes sense. However, Do you think I'm the only one who tries to repel people who get too close to those people? does not. – terdon Sep 8 '17 at 12:18
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    There are 'approachers' and 'approachees'. Some approachers get too close to the corresponding approachees. Do you think I'm the only approachee who tries to repel approachers who get too close to the corresponding approachees? // I'm not sure the original is acceptable. And I'll never write this again either. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 8 '17 at 12:35
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If I'm not mistaken, it's an object pronoun and in this context refers to her, but in the form of 'people'. Particularly, take note of the table in the link.

Do you think I'm the only one who tries to repel people who get too close to them?

Who is 'I' in this context? It's her, of course, but she's placing herself alongside the general term of people. And the subject pronoun for people in general would be they, the corresponding object pronoun of which is them!

To make this a bit more clear, we could adjust the sentence like this:

Do you think I'm the only one of all the people on this planet and the universe who tries to repel people who get too close to them?

Do people repel people who get too close to them?

Of all the people, am I, as one of the people, the only one who tries to repel people who get too close them?

I hope this helps :)

  • Yes it did @slakslak – user236989 Sep 8 '17 at 11:52
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    I don't see how this can be right. The them in this case is referring to the I and not to people. It is an example of the singular them. – terdon Sep 8 '17 at 12:19
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    I'm not saying them is referring to the people. It absolutely refers to I. But I'm trying to highlight why and how the corresponding object pronoun to I, in this case, is not Me but them, which is otherwise intuitively pertaining to they, by showing the relation of I to them. – Slakslak Sep 8 '17 at 12:56
  • Sorry, I was never notified of your reply. I still don't see what you mean. The them here is replacing a personal pronoun, me or maybe him/her. People isn't really relevant. Consider: Do you think I'm the only one who tries to repel anyone who gets too close to them?. You'd still use them there. Otherwise, in the OP's sentence, you would be saying that the people who approach try to repel themselves which makes no sense. – terdon Sep 12 '17 at 11:15

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