by Donald Neosapien Mokgale
A relationship is a bond between two or more people. There are varying degrees of intimacy in relationships which dictate the type of relationship between the people involved i.e. friendship, lovers and family. The people involved in the relationship dictate the rules which govern the relationship; this means if respect, love, communication etc are things which are important to all the parties, they can put these as the foundation of their relationship but let us explore intimate relationships and juxtapose these with the other types.
In the case of a heterosexual one: it is composed of a male and female who are attracted to each other based on numerous and naturally subjective things such as looks, attributes, feelings etc. Let us look at the following scenario: Mr A meets with miss B and they become friends. Their friendship continues for a number of years and one day they discover that they are romantically attracted to each other or as time progresses they become attracted to each other. They decide to heighten the level of intimacy between them and become lovers. What I’ve discovered tends to happen in situations like these is that communication between the two people changes, perceptions change and they no longer speak about certain things nor do they speak about what they used to the way they used to. What causes this? Surely it is logical to presume that an intimate relationship should be a bonus seeing that the two got along so well before? Is it possible that society has constructed what intimate relationships should be like? And that most, if not all couples, unconsciously find themselves trying to follow this blueprint?
Families (atleast most of them) exercise agape, a Greek word which means unconditional love. ‘Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds ‘. I am raising this principle because I wish to know why we don’t apply it (those that don’t) in intimate/romantic relationships. What I have found tends to happen is that in intimate relationships, people only focus on phileo love which is emotional love. This type of love is one driven by emotion and feelings. This is the type of love that causes the butterflies in the stomach, the adrenalin rush, the ‘I miss you so much it hurts’, the “you complete me” type love, the ‘I don’t feel this anymore’ type love. Is it possible that society has made this love the penultimate love to have in an intimate relationship? How can one strike the balance between the two loves? Who is responsible for striking the balance? Is there a need to strike the balance at all?
Consider the following scenario: miss B has been in an intimate relationship with Mr A for over 4 years and their relationship is becoming predictable and it’s reaching a plateau. Miss B does not like the mundane turn their relationship has taken and Mr A is in his comfort zone and does not mind the state of things. From my perspective, the logical thing to do here is for both parties to talk about things (this should be initiated by miss B) as well as implement a solution that will be mutually favourable but of course things don’t always go so smoothly right? What I have found tends to happen in such situations is that miss B will talk to her friends and every other party about this instead of Mr A and of course if it happens that a Mr C comes along, miss B will even consider leaving the relationship. In such a situation (which occurs more often than government corruption) who is responsible for what? Is miss B supposed to do everything to ensure the relationship remains exciting for her or is that Mr A’s responsibility? What does the societal blueprint say about this? How do gender roles affect relationships if at all?
I am sure in most if not all questions you have answered that both parties should be responsible for everything concerning the relationship right? All relationships whether it’s between lovers, friends or family need to be reciprocal in order to function optimally. Even if the relationship only has one foundation that both parties have agreed upon such as love, if it is reciprocated, it will ensure a successful relationship. How many times have you ever put in more effort into a relationship than the other (s)? How has that made you feel? There is no ‘I’ in team but there are two in relationship because both parties are responsible for the relationship. This is an ideal concept that can only be made practical by those who are willing to, until then it will remain a utopian notion made for those who dwell on cloud 9 and feast on marshmallows for breakfast. It is the parties involved who should make the rules instead of presuming that everyone is on the same page about relationships.
The other day I had I was conversing with a lady who has been with her man for 4 years plus and I asked her what her expectations were in her relationship and to my surprise, she did not know. As a matter of fact, she had never discussed it with her man and my question became the catalyst which led her to talk to her man about such things. One would think such things would have been ironed out seeing that they have been together for so long, this led me to question, is it possible that society has constructed what relationships ‘should be like’ and we just follow like sheep? I certainly applaud her for taking decisive action after discovering a gap that needs filling which is taking responsibility. How are things done in your relationships? Does the other party know your expectations? Are they doing things in harmony with them? There is no I in team but there are certainly two in a relationship!