Monday, April 6, 2009

Inequality in Relationships

Inequality in Relationships

All people are equal, but some are more equal than others – based on George Orwel – Animal Farm

We all strive for equality in relationships but if you reflect on it, most relationships are unequal.

The relationship at work is the most obvious because there is an implied hierarchy and one is supposed to follow it. Even with this though, there are times when some employees may feel that they are better than their superiors. Though this may be true in some areas, management and leadership are very complex issues. As an employee you may not be able to fathom the goal of an organization. e.g. your boss may not have such good technical skills and may not be an expert on the latest nuances of Object Oriented Programming but he may be an expert at talking to clients and charming them.

It is tempting to fall in the trap of being critical of people who are better than you but the best way to resolve inequalities is to look at what the other person is clearly superior in and learn from it. If you then add it to your existing skills, then at some point, you will supersede the person in question.

The same inequality exists in friends and man-woman relationships. Here it gets a bit more complicated because the normal misunderstanding is that friendships and relationships are based on equality, but they are not.

How many times does one observe the stark inequality between two friends or between man-woman relationships? How do these work then?

Unequal relationships can only work when there is a compensatory benefit from one side. E.g Assume Rakesh and Robert are friends. Rakesh is rich, Robert is middle class. Rakesh always wines and dines Robert in fancy places, the kind he is used to. Robert though is more intelligent and a source of knowledge for Rakesh. He is also loyal to him even though he can be objectively critical of Rakesh. Also, Robert makes sure that periodically he takes Rakesh out to cheaper but eclectic places with clean food which is really different experience for Rakesh.

Krish and Nishi are married. Krish is good looking and intelligent, Nishi is a bit above average in looks and intelligence but not equal to Krish. In the beginning years of the marriage, everything is hunky dory because Nishi adulates Krish and is an avid learner. Krish enjoys being a mentor and watches her bloom. As she becomes better, she gets more respect all around and suddenly starts thinking that she is equal to Krish. She starts arguing and fighting with him which not only hurts the relationship but also her own growth.

Unequal relationships work as long a the equation is clear on both sides. Suppose one is a 7 and the other a 5 and they know it, its ok. The moment the 5 starts thinking like a 7 or the 7 starts thinking like they are a 9, there are issues.

On a controversial closing note, women always are happier if the man is more intelligent and capable than them. This does not mean that a woman is less than a man, it only means that she may like a lot of men who are lesser than her but instinctively she looks for a man who is superior to her.

Relationship 101

This is a fresh approach to Relationships based on multiple sources including religions, science, logic and mainly a huge amount of crystallized personal experiences of people.

Read this blog with an open mind, like you would read an interesting story with an open mind and no preconceived notions based on what one has been taught or one has read, seen or heard.

We see so many problems around us in all relationships, parent-child, siblings, employee-employer, man-woman.

This blog is aimed at opening up the mind and making the reader think. This is not a one size fits all solution and it does not pass judgment on anybody.

Before we start the actual discussion on Relationships, let’s trace the root of our understanding and our views on relationships.

These are some of the primary sources from where we form our opinions:

Home/Parents When we are young, we imitate and follow everything our parents say. This forms a lot of what we become in the future. Think about it though. As generations change, unless parents are very flexible they find it difficult to deal with changes in their children’s lives. If we follow exactly what they said, it would be difficult to deal with your peers. However much we respect our parents, they are still humans and as fallible as you and me. Once you think of them as having the same fears and insecurities as you would, it is difficult to be unquestioning about their advice.

Movies Isn't it funny that some small time writer comes from a village in the wilderness, gets successful writing masala scripts and then .... Educated people, like you and me, who would not give him the time of the day, live their lives according to his scripts. At least some of the contemporary directors now have different stories with a more realistic approach on human relationships.

Books This is totally dependent on your selection of authors. Again, since most educated people read more of western literature, we lose out a lot on the wonders of our own roots. Mark that I don't say Indian culture because that is oft associated with just dance and song which is not even the tip of Indian culture. Think of mythology like the Mahabharata, it has emotion and drama to match any of Shakespeare’s stories.

Friends They come with their own background and experiences. These may not match yours. So what works for them, may not necessarily work for you and what they want out of life may not be what you want out of life. Hence their advice may not be really applicable. Also, at a certain age, people do a lot of things do get acceptance from their friends e.g. substance abuse, which many times is not the right path for you. The advice could be good or bad and one should always evaluate it objectively.

This is a start, but to get the ball rolling, we need your inputs and your questions. So go ahead, write back to us.