To Ride on Time or with Time?
“When taking a call on relationships, whether to sustain or end it, I feel we should not allow ourselves to fall in a state of complacency or indifference.”
as friends, we watched them go through the bad phase. We kept a safe distance and fought back tears even as they tumbled along the tortuous path trying to rebuild their relationship. With the passage of time, it all become an all too familiar story. They would pass each other and at times did not utter a single word was said between them. The routine high ‘high fives’ that had become the talking point on campus and their commitment to each other had been replaced by cold stares.
So why were they unable to muster enough courage and spare themselves the trouble of such unhappy bonding? Through their tumultuous friendship of almost two years, we had always noticed Brian’s high-handedness, possessive traits and the way he would put down Claire even amongst us friends. Place, time occasion was of no consequence to him. Claire on her part had come to accept this as the ‘sour’ ingredient that existed in each and every relationship. But why did she accept to go through all this? Did she deserve the agony she was going through?
It was a question that we kept asking ourselves without getting any real answers, even as the same things kept repeating time and time again. Perhaps both of them in their own ways must have been kept wondering why they were doing it. So we silently questioned ourselves. What if they had been together for ages now and both their families were in the know of their bond? Yes, she probably loved him despite his misgivings and he too in his twisted and mangled ways liked her. May be she thought that if she broke up with him, she would be the laughing stock on campus having professed her love to anyone who cared to listen. Starting all over again for the moment did not hold great prospects. But surely, wasn’t friendship about happy times and care for each other in troubled times? Where was the place for trust, commitment and mutual respect in this relationship? There was a time we thought she had enough of it and had confided as much on several occasions only to change her mind. Perhaps she had mulled over it and opted to give their friendship another chance.
“It is too early to decide on anything,” she must have battled with her battered conscience. That was months back.
How often in life have we found ourselves faced with similar situations but wait for decisions to be made for us, if not by others, then by circumstances? Why do we always leave it until it is too late to make a decision concerning our own lives by allowing ourselves to be swept away by the tide? How, for instance, would you react if you found yourself in Brian and Claire’s situation? Do others have a role to play in such a situation or they should stand aside and hope things will pass by?
Every so often, we rarely give much thought how our actions affect our overall development and that of others close to us. Sinclair, a college student believes ego is the cause of many break ups. “No one is really keen to sit back and accept their own mistakes.” Agrees Sharon, “There seems to be lots of misunderstanding amongst friends and without proper communication between the parties involved in the dispute, everything else just collapses under the weight of expectations.”
“The pain or feeling of being hurt by someone you have always trusted is sometimes overbearing,” says Rohini responding to the talk on successes and failures in keeping the flame burning. “Sometimes I feel we expect too much from our friends and when they fail to live up to it, we feel hurt or totally betrayed.”
Perhaps what is telling is the way these youngsters profess they will approach a similar situation. Sinclair contends the best way to go over the mess is to wage a cold war of your own till the other party comes to realize his or her follies. While for Sharon and Rohini, ignorance is bliss. “I am always very short tempered,” confides Sharon. To avoid pilling up on the tension that seems to be building by the hour, “The best thing is just to ignore the person and hope they will realize their mistakes. “I too would adopt a similar line,” butts in Rohini. “It is up to the person to realize his or her mistake and ask for forgiveness if the pain of going through a break-up is to be avoided.”
So is reasoning it out the best way to go?
“Since misunderstandings arise out of two or more people’s actions, the best line to pursue is to talk it over and let the person understand the cause of the hurt,” says Soumya. “Personally, I will accept responsibilities for my actions and work towards remedying the situation.”
Unfortunately, this is not what many people are comfortable with. Not many of us are willing to own up to our mistakes. Instead, we put it on others. Perhaps the reason Sinclair contends we should take care of our egos. This will help us sustain relationships. Building so many expectations on the other hand is a source of heartburn and a breeding ground for discontent.
When taking a call on relationships, whether to sustain or end it, I feel we should not allow ourselves to fall in a state of complacency or indifference.
Frank Corey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, quotes a marriage counselor and family therapist, William Doherty. “The forces pulling on families are just too strong in the modern world. Ultimately, we must decide either to steer or go where the river takes us. The key to successful steering is to be intentional about our family rituals.”
This I guess holds true even for our little bondings on campus. Unless, of course you are still determined to ride with the tide!
Dr. John Patrick Ojwando
Lecturer, Dept. of Media Studies