Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Hitch before ‘the Hitch’ – story I

Chee (definitely not short for Cheesy) is 27, and one of the sweetest and prettiest people I know. Pea (short for who knows what) is 26; tall and well built with a smelly-as-old-socks kinda locker room humour. And both their lives are as barren as a grain of sand. There’s a difference though… Choosy Chee’s life is like a grain of sand from the parched Sahara, where no one goes and er… no one comes. Most of the men in her universe might be grovelling at her feet but she usually looks at them the way you might at dead flies caught in a restaurant’s bug zapper… with a mixture of pity and disgust. Chee just isn’t happy with what she has and doesn’t know how to get what she wants… her problem? She’s the right course in the wrong restaurant …

On the other hand, Pea has the opposite problem. His life is like a grain of sand from a beach, often flooded and at times crowded, but barren nevertheless, because neither the waters, nor the people ever stay back… and yeah, he does get trod upon a fair bit too. His problem? He is looking at the wrong course in the right restaurant… Allow me to explain. I believe that as far as compatibility in relationships is concerned, people are like meal-courses, and if you get greedy or cheap and don’t order the right course, you’ll either throw up (fall out) or have to live with chronic dysentery (a bad painful marriage) all your life.

Here’s how this works… Chee’s always been a ‘good girl’. She knew the rules, studied hard, did the ‘right’ things, returned home before dark and didn’t get stoned. People liked her and she stayed out of trouble; she was giving and caring and found a similar guy who’s reliable at home and work. Nothing could go wrong with her life. Now that’s a simple, uncomplicated one-course person – not too many layers, nothing unpredictable and her whole life smells of wholesome goodness. So, what went wrong? Well, it’s that monster that waylays every relationship – evolution. Of course, its old hat that partners in a relationship evolve, at different paces, in different directions. If partners remain sensitive to each other, they feel the tug as they pull in different directions and get back to some amorous CPR to fortify the bond. But usually, the bonds break even before we realise that we’ve drifted away.

Chee and her ex suffered the same fate. She met some people at work who she had nothing in common with. She was thrown together in a team with these seven-course, multi layered, super complicated people who she’d perhaps have never said more than a ‘hello’ to if they didn’t have to work together. Given time and human nature, they became good friends. One of her colleagues, let’s call him ‘The Rajput’, is a real dasher. He loves trekking, riding and women, and if nothing else, is brilliant at talking about them, with a smile that could charm Medusa. And so what if he can’t sing; he sure can cook. Now I’ve got to admit, while single-course guys, like Chee’s ex, lets call him pizza’, are reliable and caring individuals, they just can’t match these multi course exotic platters like our ‘Rajput’ in terms of charisma and persona.

Chee too was swept off her feet by the man’s wit and charm. Her good old Pizza now seemed bland and boring. Soon enough, they broke up. Nothing happened between her and The Rajput though. He was happily married to another multi-course platter. Chee came across other seven-course dazzlers though, but couldn’t hang on to these broncos. They were too wild, too complicated, too unpredictable. Little Chee can’t figure out where she went wrong. While Chee is a real person, I’m sure we all know someone like her, maybe in the next cubicle, maybe across the dining table, maybe you see her in the mirror everyday. Here’s what you can do if you’re like…

Chee: Ma’am, you might read up books which promise to help you ‘find the one you want’, but that isn’t your problem. Your problem is hanging on to that one and that, if he is a multi-course charmer, while you remain a single course, uncomplicated angel, is virtually impossible. Multi-coursers like complications. They need to pray at the altar of a demanding goddess in order to feel fulfilled every day. But you, if you don’t mind my saying so, are a tad too simple. He’ll get bored and you’ll tire of keeping up with him. Your options? You’ve got two. A) You’re a wonderful as you are. Around you, there are great single-course guys, both sincere and giving (virtues you embody) and all you have to do is open your eyes to them and you’ll see them… waiting. B) If you’re smitten by the multi-course bug and can’t resist the magnetic charms of their undeniably exciting world view, you’ll have to change, and that’ll take work. You need to change your value system and really ‘step out’. Make it a point to constantly challenge yourself with new experiences. It could take years and as you gain new attributes, you might lose all that you hold dear today. Reinvention demands both surrender and sacrifice – it wouldn’t be easy; it mightn’t even be right, but hey, follow your heart, and I’ll wish you luck. Chee’s Pizza: Feel sorry for you, buddy. You’ve did nothing wrong but yes, you should’ve felt the tug when she started drifting away. You have the same options too – remain true to who you are and give up on love, for now, but do make a conscious effort to keep evolving (as against drifting) along the planes of your uncomplicated single-course psyche. Or, you too could follow Chee and hopefully find your feet in multi-course country.

The Rajput and his ilk: Tread carefully! Don’t promise more than you can deliver in such a relationship. Once sure of your mutual incompatibility, warn her off and be honest. She’ll thank you for saving her a heartbreak and you would’ve won a friend for life.

Next week, our friend Pea will have his moment in the sun...

The slip stream

Relationship Rescue

To maintain and nurture a relationship is hard work, and sometimes it’s made harder by the fact that men and women communicate in different ways. For example during a crisis in their lives men withdraw into their shell and try to think of a way out - the classic case of ‘retreating to their cave’. As for women when they face a crisis, their response is to talk it out with their friends; they find comfort when someone acknowledges their problems. These words are John Gray’s, author of the best selling Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. Written in 1992, this book has been the grand daddy of all relationship counseling books which view men and women from different prisms. A tidal wave of follow up books from different authors have followed, most notably, Why Men Lie and Women Cry from Allan and Barbara Pease and relatively recently, Love Smart from Dr. Phil McGraw. Their advice may vary but one thing remains the same, most relationships can be saved if both of partners are willing to work hard on it, with honesty and passion


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