Monday, 28 June 2021

PILLARS OF A RELATIONSHIP – PART-VII

     Now that we’ve discussed all the factors in detail, we’ve reached the end of the long series of posts. I guess there is not much I can say here than what I’ve already said. Every relationship out there is unique in its own skin and the same lid may not fit every jar. Like I said, every law has its exception. But remember, not all of us are exceptions even though we tend to think that we are as different from the person next to us as we are to cats and dogs.
     A relationship is a wonderful thing. It can either be a beautiful plant that blooms every day or a misplaced cactus on your seat based on how you nurture it. Every plant needs sunlight, water, air, earth and care on varying quantities; sometimes not all of these, based on where they grow. The same goes for any relationship as well. Honesty, Trust, Respect, Friendship and Love are the primary factors that control every relationship. There are other factors of life we all know that affect any relationship such as career, ambition or several conflict of interests but none affect a relationship like ‘The Five’ we’ve been discussing about.
     The most important thing to remember in any relationship is that a double-edged sword hurts both ways and anything that you do affects both sides in a relationship. As the famous Assassin’s Creed quote says, ‘To say that Everything is Permitted is to understand that we are the architects of our actions and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic’. You can be selfish sometimes, hell, you should be selfish sometimes. Our human nature demands it. However, if it will affect the other person negatively, it is necessary to go through things together.
     There is a quote I fondly remember. I don’t remember if I wrote it first or if I read it somewhere and it stuck in my head. ‘It doesn’t matter where you go but with whom you go’. We all have some end goal that we have in our mind, some of us reach it and some of us don’t. Whatever it is, ‘we only live as long as the last person who remembers us’. That’s ‘Westworld’ for you. Is the destination worth it if you have no one to share it with? We are called ‘social animals’ for a reason.
     As humans, we make mistakes. A lot of it in our lifetime. That doesn’t necessarily make us bad. What makes us bad is our inability to correct ourselves. I would tell the same thing to you. Since all of us are prone to mistakes, give the other person a chance to correct themselves. If you value the relationship more, give them second, third or even a fourth chance. After all, forgiveness makes us more human and binds the relationship stronger than ever.
     However, that doesn’t mean you need to keep giving chances to someone that does not value the many second chances you give them. Remember the five necessary things in a relationship that we’ve discussed about and if the other person doesn’t value the same even after giving multiple chances, maybe they value themselves more than the relationship. In that case, continuing the relationship may end up being toxic to at least one of the partners.
     I’ve seen several relationships fail due to the inability to commit a 100% into the relationship. Any relationship needs both the wheels to run and it doesn’t matter if only one person commits completely and the other person just uses the relationship to meet their personal gains. Love is more about giving than taking but it has to be mutual. If it is one-sided, the relationship starts deteriorating, sometimes slowly, barely noticeable but dying nonetheless.
     We all make sacrifices for our loved ones and when its mutual, it doesn’t seem that big a deal to put the other person’s interest before ours. In a relationship, it’s not just enough for one person to work for the best of the relationship. You need both parties equally working towards it, failure of which will either destroy the person or the relationship.

Monday, 21 June 2021

PILLARS OF A RELATIONSHIP – PART-VI

     Well, we are down to the last factor on our list. If you’ve taken the time to read all my previous posts and are here now, there could only be one reason. You really think I’ve been honest so far, trust me enough to read through, respect my views, consider my words a friendly advice and well, love me. Guess we are in a relationship after all.
     If you’ve truly read through all my prior posts on this topic, you should understand by now why I came at the list in reverse and why honesty stands at the top of the list. Honesty truly defines any relationship whether you agree or not. Have you ever gotten close to someone that you think is lying through their teeth for their own gains? No, I think not. Even if they were lying and we were na├»ve enough to think that the truth, that is the only way we trust and get closer to the liars.
     But does that last? In every person’s life, there is someone we trusted blindly until we saw the truth about them and boy, was that truth ugly. The fallout is even worse that we cannot even look at their face without thinking about all the lies they fed us. The constant wonder of whether they are being honest or lying again in things little and large, might even keep us up at night. Sure, we all lie to other people in our day to day lives. Sorry, I have a family emergency and I can’t attend this work thing or vice versa. There are white lies that doesn’t affect anyone and then there are lies that break people in half.
     If you think a relationship can live based on a lie, it will either die short or live long enough for the lie to break the relationship irrevocably. I tried to frame the sentence to mirror the dialogue between the ‘Dark Knight’ and the ‘White Knight’. At one point or the other, we are all put in a situation where we think that we know what’s best for the other person to know. As grown-ups, we all have the ‘right to know’. Would you rather a close one in your life hide something from you to shield you from possible pain than tell you the truth and be done with it?
     If you trust the person enough, your answer might be, ‘I wouldn’t mind them hiding things from me’ until there comes a time, when you feel violated and betrayed that your answer becomes, ‘you had no right hiding it from me’. And this time, it will make you question everything they did for you in a new light. Trust me, this new light will be darker and unforgiving. Not all truths deserve to be told immediately. ‘Your parents didn’t want you’ rings very differently to a kid than a grown-up.
     An adult on the other hand, deserves the truth as it is and it is their right to decide what they make of it. When we hide the truth from them and influence their decision, isn’t that somewhat the same as mind control? Would you rather your decisions not be your own but careful engineering by some other person in your life? Would you really give up your freewill to make your own choices?
     Honesty is not always an easy choice. A lie is easy to come by and easy to make believe. Truth, on the other hand, will always face some difficulties when expressed but give it time and it’ll blossom into something wonderful. Remember the times when earth was flat, black people were slaves, transgenders were cursed and homosexuals went to hell? We all know the battles that had to be fought and now look at our world. It’s perfectly round, all people are treated equal and all love is accepted. Of course, there will always be exceptions. There is no law without exceptions.
     Being honest to the people you love is of utmost importance. To the people that share most of your life, a lie is a poison that will eat the relationship inside out.

Monday, 14 June 2021

PILLARS OF A RELATIONSHIP – PART-V

     Do you trust the person sitting next to you? Do you trust the person that came to your mind while thinking about this question? Do you trust yourself to make the right choices when the time comes? If your answer to all the above questions is ‘Yes’, you might very well be the luckiest person on this whole damn planet. What if, your answer to all these questions is ‘No’? Does that mean you are cursed? No. It only means that you haven’t met the right person in your life that trusts you so much that you would trust them with your life.
     What is trust? Is it important in our day to day life? Is it just an excuse for us to load our responsibilities to some other person? Trust, like most other things, is not something you achieve instantly or in a short time even. Trust is built over truth. Trust is a wall which is built brick by brick over the course of a relationship, each brick an incident where you have the chance to think for yourself and decide in your favor over the relationship or your partner.
     I don’t think trust is an excuse that we give our own self so we can transfer some of our responsibilities to another person. I like to think that trust is something far more important in a relationship without which it can never be complete. I believe trust defines our ability to be human, to have faith in our fellow beings to do the right thing. It is a special allowance that we bestow upon another human being to decide for us, a right that we do not give everyone easily. It is a gift of promise that binds two different lives into a single knot sharing everything.
     There are different levels of trust depending upon the relationship we share with different people; parents, friends, family and colleagues. This also defines how much we share with anyone at any given point of time. The closer we grow with friends, the more we entrust them with; the farther we fall away from family, the lesser we share with them. Trust could be defined as the backbone of any relationship. I mean, would you share your bed with someone you do not trust? Would you share a bowl of soup from a person you do not trust?
     There is no one in this world who doesn’t trust anyone, neither is there a person who is not trusted by anyone. Our nature wants us to be trusted and in turn we trust in people who prove themselves. As I said before, we all make mistakes all the time. Sometimes we break the trust we built. It may not be intentional but us thinking it will be better that way. Broken trust is hard to build back just like broken glass. You can rework it but it’ll never be the same and it will require more than what it took the first time to build it back.
     When the other person trusts you completely and they simply forgive you for your trespasses, this is the person you need to be more careful with. The chances they give you will not be indefinite and when they stop giving you another chance, there is a very good possibility that you are not getting another. If you really value the relationship over your selfish desire to act on your impulses again, you should take a step back and evaluate your life choices. A relationship where a partner trusts you completely is not something that you can easily come by.
     Trust is a valuable gift that someone gives you when they think you are a part of them. Breaking that trust is like killing the part they shared with you in the first place. In a relationship such as marriage, that part is half of them and breaking their trust is synonymous to delivering them a killing blow yourself. Close your eyes and imagine the person you trust the most. Now imagine them reaching inside your mouth, clamping down on your stomach and pulling you inside out. Trust which was built over years, feels like this, when broken.
     Anything can be fixed when the right resources and the right amount of effort is put in it. Sure, it may not be the same but it can be recovered to the best level possible. A known devil is always better than the unknown and this holds true for relationships too.

Monday, 7 June 2021

PILLARS OF A RELATIONSHIP – PART-IV

     As evolved life forms, we show respect to fellow humans in varying degrees, like our lesser evolved fauna. When we like someone, we show a lot of respect to them. In case of friends however, I think it’s the inverse. The more you love your friends, the more you abuse them; verbally at least. It’s a different kind of respect that only your best friends can show you. No matter how much they slash you verbally, they would never give you up to others.
     When it comes to professional relationships, we have a mandatory requirement to be respectful to our colleagues, no matter how much we hate them or love them. Most often than not, we only have a grudging respect for our boss which his station requires. Rarely do we get a boss, who not only is friendly but also is not a jerk. All of our views vary in this aspect that no single person’s experience can be used to define a common cause.
     Why do we respect other people around us? Is it because we are inherently nice? Or is it because we want to be a good person? There are several reasons why we are respectful of others. Sometimes there is no reason, we just like them. Sometimes there is no other option, either they are our elders or they manage us. Sometimes we admire them for something that we love or something that we cannot be. Most times there is a valid reason why we respect others. When we respect others out of no reason, now that’s true respect. It’s not an inherent habit to our species to respect others for nothing. That’s what makes it special.
     Any relationship requires this respect for it to run long. Because the more you respect the other person, the stronger your relationship gets. Without respect, the relationship withers over time. Deep down, we all crave attention and appreciation. Respect is one such necessity that is expected by everyone no matter what.
     When I say respect, its not just being respectful in words but actions as well. When in a relationship, you must always put the relationship first. If your needs become selfish and you decide on things without consulting your partner, doesn’t that mean you don’t respect the relationship or your partner? I mean, there are things you can be selfish about and still enjoy a great relationship. Things like having the last slice of pizza or eating the last scoop of ice cream from the fridge and leaving an empty container for your significant other to find can be fun. Those are fun parts of being in a relationship.
     And then there are the big things in life. Things that are make or break for every relationship. If you decide to make an individual decision on such things, that can put a huge crack on the relationship. To err is human and there is a possibility for some slip-ups and these do not matter as long as they are things that do not define the relationship and not done intentionally. Before deciding on the major things by yourself, take a step back and think for yourself, what would my partner do when put in a situation like this? Would I want him to take a selfish decision without consenting me? Now do not take the high ground and think high & mighty. Be brutally honest, be yourself and think what you would do.
     When we ‘put ourselves in others shoes’, we tend to think that we would act rational and logical but when put in a true situation, rarely do we act rational or logical. Deep down, we all have that little crazy us, that’ll often raise its head over the reasonable us. Keep that in mind whenever you decide for yourself on the big things that will affect your relationship.
     Respect the other person, their feelings and emotions, their wants and dislikes. When you truly respect the other person, you should feel very uncomfortable deciding on things without taking them through with your partner. If you do feel comfortable doing that, maybe the relationship isn’t that important to you. Maybe your partner isn’t that important to you.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

PILLARS OF A RELATIONSHIP – PART-III

     We all know the saying, ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’. A friend who is there for you in your time of need is a true friend indeed. Another word we use in vain these days is ‘friend’. Someone worked with us, studied with us or we just say ‘Good Morning’ everyday in passing and we give them the mantle of a ‘Friend’. In that definition, every one of us have a lot of friends, however, how close are they to you? How close are you to them?
     In any corporate job, there comes a time when everyone must answer a question that never changes. ‘Where do you see yourself with us in the next 5 years?’ I think we can apply this to real life relationships too, not for family obviously, we’re stuck with them for life. For other relationships such as friends, lovers & partners though, this question can be a real eye opener if answered with brutal honesty (if that’s not possible try to be the least bit honest).
     The primary investment any relationship needs is neither money nor gifts but time. Your time is the single most precious investment that you can give to a loved one. Some may consider this exercise a logical and heartless one but just ride with me. Make a list of all your friends. If you don’t remember them enough to add to the list, they have zero importance to you. If you have to think for even a microsecond if you should add them to the list, do not add them. When something major happens in their life which requires you to travel a day and you think the ordeal is too much that you might skip it, do not add them. Now the list should be very compact. If your list has nobody on it now, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have true friends but that you’re lazy on your ass. Just deal with it.
     Friendship that overcomes all these and endures for a long time will be even more precious than Love. We all have our own good, bad and the ugly. If you don’t have one, you must be lying. A true friend is someone with whom you are comfortable sharing all three. A true friend is someone who listens to all your dumb shit and still sticks with you. A true friend is someone who doesn’t judge you for your mistakes but helps steer you on the right track. Sometimes with words and sometimes with smacks.
     Just like everyone, I have a lot of friends but only a handful of close friends with whom there is nothing I would not discuss. I have friends that I’ve known more than half my life who understand me and guide me in whatever path I choose. A true friend never holds back and never gives you false praise. They would not think for a second to put you back in your place. But they will do it with such grace, you will feel both insulted and insightful.
     Life might take you places and you may even fall apart on some friendships but there are some, where the years won’t matter. No matter how long you’ve been apart, you instantly connect and the years dissolve. Many a time in my life, my friends have been pillars of support to me and I could not thank them enough. In return, I do all I can to be there for them. And if you fall in love with that kind of a friend and that love leads to marriage, you are one of the luckiest to walk the face of the earth.
     That is the best lesson Chandler and Monica from ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ can teach us. That even though you started on the wrong foot, a true friendship can do wonders to your life and the only condition needed is that you continue the friendship.
     Time is a costly gift. Invest it wisely and invest it in good relationships. A good friendship can make your life a whole lot better in this complicated, uncaring world. Make new friends but do not forget your old friends that came through in your time of need. Those are the only people worth keeping in your life. Those are the only people worthy of your time. Those are the only hearts that make the world a better place to live.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

PILLARS OF A RELATIONSHIP – PART-II

     There is a conversation I deeply enjoyed from the movie ‘Predestination’ between the bartender and the writer.
B: ‘What do you want?’
W: ‘What does anyone want?’
B: ‘Love?’
     Anyone who has seen the movie and still has some semblance of coherence about it will know what comes next. For the sake of this post, I’m skipping the next part of the dialogue. Love is one of the basest needs for the human psyche. We need to love and be loved. Yeah, you guessed right. I’m going at the list in reverse. You will understand in my later posts why I’m choosing to go down the list in reverse.
     When we profess our interest in someone, ‘like’ & ‘love’ are the two go-by words that pop in our mind. However, subconsciously our mind puts a great difference to these words when one is special while we use the other in vain. The word ‘Love’ has a strong feeling associated with it. It goes something like, I love the color red but I like blue too (yeah, you can suck it blue). Love always supersedes like.
     I have a friend who is married happily with 2 lovely kids. Let’s call her ‘A’ and her husband ‘S’. Their marriage was arranged and before marriage, we met ‘S’ in a restaurant at a get together that was supposed to be only friends. ‘A’ had brought him along to introduce to us and we had lunch together. It was a little bit awkward since he was older than all of our friends but he was friendly.
     ‘A’ was a stay-at-home mom while ‘S’ worked away from home. Most commonly, they would get to spend only the weekends together. Their marriage was not perfect, none is. They went through their own rough patch burying old skeletons that threatened their relationship at the very beginning of their marriage. But, they endured. We all have skeletons buried in our closets, some much more so. When their past threatened their present life, they didn’t run away. They didn’t turn to the big guns (read ‘parents’) or real guns to blow the other person’s head off. Instead they turned to love and love they did.
     The one thing that never lacked in their relationship was love. It was abundant and overflowing. Maybe working away from home for most days helped but they had great chemistry. From the day of their marriage to this day, the only profile picture ‘A’ has in her WhatsApp account is of her husband. After 2 kids and a lot of pounds (sorry, ‘A’), they are still going great at it. If you ask me to choose one constant factor that keeps them glued together, it’s love. They never turned away from it. Just like Marshall & Lily from 'How I met your mother'.
     Love is a no-brainer. Literally, you don’t need too much brains for it. All you need is care for the other person and the ability to put the other person ahead of your interests. As always, both wheels are necessary to keep the marriage afloat. In every relationship, one person loves more than the other. Yes, it’s true. That doesn’t mean whoever loves less doesn’t deserve their partner. All it means is that they need to put in one extra step at a time to keep moving towards their partner. Because when you start caring less & less, that you don’t put the same effort into it as you did the first time, it will definitely draw the line in the sand.
     No magic is permanent. Everything fades. If you want to keep enjoying it, you need to put effort into it. If there is no effort to show your love, is it really love?

Sunday, 16 May 2021

PILLARS OF A RELATIONSHIP – PART-I

     It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write something that is not work-related, filling out a form or the grocery list. Life sure loves 180s. But as any reasonable grown-up should do, instead of talking about my life, I’m going to talk about other people’s life.
     Now that I’ve got your attention, most of us believe in ‘The One’ or at the very least know the concept of it. As we grow up, life also teaches us abstract concepts such as ‘Fate’ or ‘Destiny’ or ‘Karma’. And no matter how much you want it, I’m not going to discuss about those. I’m not sure who coined the phrase ‘The One’ but whoever did it definitely had their heart stolen. Literally, if it was ‘The Crazy One’.
     We might not say it out loud but each and every one of us want a loving, lasting & cherishing relationship with our life partner. Each gender handles it differently. Men might actually talk tall about being open minded or being dominant but they rarely know what they exactly want from their woman. Women, on the other hand, know exactly what they want from their man but spend (read ‘waste’) a lot of time dropping hints that just go over their male counterparts’ head instead of directly talking about them. This may not apply to all men & women though.
     Born in a culturally rich country where arranged marriages still wipe the floor with love marriages, I know how difficult it can be to express yourself where expressing yourself freely means disrespect to your elders or something even worse. Being right and they know it. There is a lot of guilt trip that controls the majority of the decisions.
     I know that we all want that perfect person in our life. With a bit of a luck, you actually meet them or get married off by your parents. Sometimes arranged marriages can be wonderful when that life partner gives you what you need instead of what you thought you wanted. In love marriages that translates to, ‘I will not give you what you need even though you want it’.
     I’m not going to tell you how to get into a relationship because I truly don’t know. I never learned that game very well. However, I can tell you how to make a relationship work like a well-oiled machine. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any kinks to work out in the future (not the dirty kind of kink).
     To make any relationship work, especially marriages, there are certain rules or game plans that will help. As long as you don’t know them or you’re not ready to abide by them, you are not ready for the relationship. As countless relationship quotes and therapists have said before, relationships need both wheels to work and I am not talking about a unicycle.
     There are five absolutes that every relationship must have to succeed in the long run. It’s difficult for all of these to bloom instantly into the relationship but if you do not have at least three of them at the end of the first year of your relationship, it’s going to be a rocky ride. Below are the five major parameters that control any relationship.
1. Honesty
2. Trust
3. Respect
4. Friendship
5. Love
     Before you start calling me names and dish out other parameters, let me stop you. I can hear the other parameters too. But I’m going in deep on each of these over the next few posts. At the end, I hope I can convince you.