Sunday, April 12, 2009

Relationship Thermodynamics: 1+1=3

That's right folks, we're back to this topic again.

As I'm sitting there watching the opera this weekend, something profound was brought to my attention: (i) all of these characters have relationship issues; (ii) this opera was written over 100 years ago; and (iii) it might as well have been written in 2009. That is to say, the same relationship problems that existed back then are literally the same problems we are dealing with today when it comes to trying to make this thing called Love work. You had people cheating on their spouse, people stuck on stupid for their exes, people checking up on where their significant other has been the night before and the significant others responding with the classic one-liner: "why are you checking up on me?" Same stuff. Different time.

This led the group of us who were in attendance this weekend to embark upon a record setting all-day rap session in which we covered an array of topics, one of which I thought may make for an interesting point of debate regarding relationships. This point stems from an old sex ed class at our alma matter wherein a professor proposed three formulaic equations regarding relationships. They are as follows:



1+1=1

1+1=2

and

1+1=3



The Primer:


1+1=1
This means that when a relationship happens between two people, one of them is the more dominant party of the couple, and one is the more subservient party of the couple who ends up being subsumed by the dominant party. In a 1+1=1 relationship, one person basically gives up their life's interests for the other person's interests, thus becoming "1" with that person. For example, in a situation where a man and woman are together and the man happens to be the dominant party of the relationship, the 1+1=1 woman will discard her friends and adopt the man's friends as her own; she will give up on her own dreams and ambitions and follow the man as he pursues his own dreams and ambitions. In essence, she gives up her life and makes her life all about his life. This may sound familiar to some of you.

1+1=2
In this scenario, the couple is more equally suited for each other in terms of drive, ambition and relationship experience. Neither party exerts any dominance over the other party in terms of relationship dynamics, however they are so wrapped up in their own individual worlds that they fail to take the time to develop their own relationship together, thus 1 person plus 1 person = 2 separate people. Typical examples of this are professional couples who are both obligated to their own high powered careers which demand, and to which they readily give, the majority of their time and energy. This may also sound familiar to some of you.

1+1=3
This scenario is a healthy combination of the two previous equations. In the 1+1=3 relationship, one person has their own life, dreams, ambitions and goals, the other person has their own life, dreams, ambitions and goals, yet they succeed where the "1+1=2" fails because they recognize the importance of their relationship together and they mutually agree to come together and meet in the middle in order to make it progress just as they progress individually in their own pursuits. Thus, 1 person plus 1 person plus 1 relationship = 3 entities all progressing equally at the same time.

Which brings us to the question that was proposed to the group, if the 1+1=3 is the ideal formula for relationships (assuming that we agree on this point, which may itself be a question we need to debate) then why do we continue to see so many of the other two types? Specifically, for the ladies out there, why does it seem to be that so many of you end up in the "1+1=1" category as opposed to the "1+1=3" category?


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