It takes Two to Tango.

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The other day a friend came over for a cup of coffee and sat there crying his soul out. He had been friendly with a younger colleague of his and over time had been helping her in her work. Quite recently he had begun to get the feeling that the only relationship (albeit platonic) they had was that he was nothing more than perhaps SIRI in human form.

‘She only pings me when she wants some work related information from me.  Beyond that there is nothing that she wants to talk to me about. It’s almost like I exist just to solve her current question like SIRI does.” was his downcast remark when I probed.

We tossed back and forth a few philosophical statements like guys often do and then he left. But his words kept harking back. Was he an over sensitive person to view his ‘friend” in that light? Or was it a case of him ‘wanting more’ and she ‘wanting nothing more.”?

For a long time I debated this question in my mind.

The beauty and pain of human relationships is that there is both joy and sorrow in it. The joy comes from the interaction we have with one another- the laughter of a shared joke, the exhilaration of a passing compliment, the wistful feeling of love when the other person takes joy in our own personal success.

But along with the joy comes the pain.

A passing hurtful remark, many times said in complete innocence but which hits us like an arrow. The silence of an expected reply that never comes, the pain of feeling that you are the one driving the relationship, the silent realization that you are on a one-way street.

Joy and Pain. The Ying and the Yang in relationships. You can’t have one without the other in a relationship.

How one treats the other in any relationship speaks defines one’s own nature. Every relationship is a two way street. You give as much as you take out of it. We have all been guilty of being in relationships where we have only taken and never given.  Have we ever for a moment paused to explore the possible pain that giver of what we took felt in the relationship?

I doubt it.

But we do feel the pain of being in a relationship where we are the sole giver. Possibly much like my friend felt. Being in a one-sided relationship, unless of course you are a strong masochist, is much like being a punching bag for a boxer. You get punched each time you swing back and you keep doing it until you become useless.  It’s toxic and will over a period of time turn you into a bitter person.

Get out while you can!

But more often than not we are usually on a one-way street when it comes to having relationship. Our expectations of what the other will do are often governed by what we would do for them. A one way relationship is like driving in the opposite direction in a one-way street. Unless one is damn lucky, there can be only one possible ending – a headlong crash into humiliation. Unfortunately one-way relationships are often so toxic, so addictive that it is become extremely difficult to extricate oneself from it. Try as one can, getting out becomes difficult.

My unfortunate friend was in my opinion in the grips of one such one-sided relationship. During our friendly banter over coffee, I gave him my opinion.

“Get out.” I advised him

“Cant’ was his candid reply.

“Why ever not?”  I countered determined to corner him

“She needs my advice.” He replied.

And therein lies the crux, the bane of most one-sided relationship, where the giver is so hopelessly caught in the vortex and he or she will time and time again continue forgiving the other party for all transgressions.

Driving blind in a one-way street with the traffic coming from the opposite direction can only lead to one ending. I was sure my friend was lost.

Relationships can and are often complex emotional and psychological interaction, whether it is a relationship between parents and siblings or a man-woman relationship or even a relationship based on friendship. Every relationship has to to be a give and take one if it is meant to succeed in the long run.

If one continues to take and take without giving back to a relationship, not only are you murdering the relationship, but in the process you are possibly murdering the soul of the individual. But many of us continue to blithely do it with no real motive of hurting anyone except for the fact that we fail to read the underlying currents. We are so unaware of what we are doing, that we continue to do it with impunity secure in the false knowledge that we have someone.

But in the end, what we have is not a person but an empty soul. We ultimately draw and take out all the spirit that drove us in the first place into the relationship.

A relation matures and grows well when both people are on driving in the same direction in a two way street. Don’t settle for being either just the giver or the taker. And don’t settle for being the only one trying , because if you do, you will end up as another hit-and-run victim lying by the side of the road.

Relationships are worth fighting for only if you’re not the only one fighting for it.

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Rajesh Menon is a seasoned entrepreneur and digital marketing expert with over 25 years of experience. An MBA in marketing, Rajesh has largely worked in the advertising and communication industry with several leading agencies. He has worked with several brands like Nestle, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, Britannia, Usha, Gillette as well as with hundreds of SME’s

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