Sunday, April 17, 2011

Anatomy of failed relationships...

फ़र्ज़ करो हम अहले वफ़ा हों, फ़र्ज़ करो दीवाने हों
फ़र्ज़ करो यह दोनों बाते, झूठी हों अफसाने हों

Just imagine... I'm love and commitment and I'm the madness of love. Or just imagine the possibility that both these ideas are mere lies myths, and stories.

Love is both, deeply spiritual and a mere myth of the current times. So it is interesting to deconstruct a relationship in making and its fun to tear down the events behind its breaking apart. There is far too much of well researched knowledge on love now to back this upon. Though overall painful, it demystifies it all.
Sadly it takes away that magic too, which makes it all beautiful, and worth anything.

Case 1:
A loves B.
B broke with A.

Phase 1 Any relationship, mutually attracts people with issues they have to work upon. But initially in the golden glow, everything looks perfect.

B pursued A in a dating game, for which A was really clueless.
And A was ready for a relationship like 'mid-night summer dream', and got into a one sided commitment, for which B was really not prepared.
For A, love starts with commitment and it is an ongoing work. B initially felt A was amazing and was too good to be true. A found B charming with many endearing quirks. Dopamine ruled!!!

Phase 2
Every relationship suddenly goes into the 2nd phase. Here invariably, whatever one liked in one's partner earlier, becomes annoying and irritating now. Such as the dreamy person looks fantasy-oriented one, the realist looks too superficial. One suddenly realises, this is what I had not bargained for.

Majority of 'break ups' happen here. When there is no acknowledgement of mutual differences and an acceptance of each other's personalities and that of human nature, these break-up happens with lot of anger. But when there is this acceptance, the break-up is tinged with sadness, minus rage.

So in our story, B found out soon enough that A needs more interactions and more communications... which overwhelmed B. A felt B is confusing, some times involved, sometimes disconnected emotionally for long period of times.
And the most common relational pattern started- A will demand more, B will withdraw more, and that will make A more anxious and more demanding and B more distant. Add to this, both A and B were going through multiple deadlines and stresses and B's supposedly manipulating 'ex' were in the picture far too often. To top it all, they had different cultures, A had never seen B's culture, B had no idea of cultural differences. Well bad luck!

Phase 3
Often the relationships which survive phase 2 are those where partners have chosen either of the two options.

One, they may decide to accept each other's differences completely and navigate life in those rigid boundaries. In this option both get more and more entrenched in their uniqueness and differences. Life is manageable but inflexible and impoverished. The dreamy becomes more so, at times sloppy, the realist becomes more hard and dry.

The other option is to have this awareness of differences, and still keep growing beyond those rigidities. Both are more flexible, grow more whole and complete. This is a tough choice, is also most fulfilling and uplifting path. Majority do not reach this stage... some do, but only after break up, alone, individually ...

Only a few with courage and strength and love and compassion and growth motivation, reach here. This needs patience, persistence, and a constant awareness. Its not falling in love, but rising in love. It is self-actualisation and self-transcendence and self-expansion.

Interestingly, the deepest needs within people search for this communion. But the path is hard and people give up, mid-way, and far too easily. They often try to fulfill these needs with easier, more 'in-control' stuff, such as addiction to substances, sex, pornography, mindless internet, casual dating and often work.

Our A and B, meanwhile broke up, and got back together in some measures, now long distance.
A tried to understand what is happening, looked at B's relationship styles, where self-sufficiency is preferred over companionship (avoidant attachment) and work is a mode to get fulfillment, often the only mode. Relationships seem intrusive, draining and exhausting after a point.

A tried accepting the differences, functioning within them, with a hope that some day, with shared investment in an emotionally fulfilling relationship tinged with meaning and some sense of spirituality, they will jointly transcend the functional narrow boundaries.
B still used to get some companionship, some conversations, something meaningful out of the entire connection.
All was still well,.... looked so, but really was not.
B would not reach out to A and share what crisis are going on in life.
Further, B had difficulties in comforting when A will try to reach out in times of distress.

The interactions went like this usually:
A: I'm happy, joyful
B: wow! fun! A: yes lets celebrate together

A: (I'm peaceful)
B: ... (does it have any interaction potential?... drifts into thoughts of work, the next project the next paper)
A: (come back... BE with me... )

A: I'm in Pain
B: . . . . . . . (moments pass) . . . . . . no response (What? I don't know what to say, what to do).
A: hey did you hear. I'm in pain... (can't you say a few words to comfort... )

A: I'm Irritated
B: Mixed feeling rises. . . (seems automatic negative cognition... I'm tested, I'm not up to the mark? that's sad/irritating. A is getting attention seeking, annoyingly intrusive, breaking my comfortable homeostasis) a defensive reaction comes out 'not me' (and feels trapped)

Amygdala responds, even before prefrontal cortex can process the entire situation. B has no clue there is something missing here and only B can stop and reflect and be aware, what happens then... what cognition and emotions arise in such moments. Even as A is simultaneously trying to do that more often.
Actually to break this short circuiting by the primitive, reptilian part of the brain one needs to stop, take deep breath, relax and then be aware of ones cognition and emotions. Then one also has to decide to choose to act in a virtuous, compassionate, loving manner. (higher parts of the brain gets activated then). These are not easy skills, but one will keep attracting similar situations in one's life, until one learns this. Sad but so very true!

Humans have innate ability, to understand other's perspective (called Theory of mind) and has its origins in the brain. Humans also respond to other's pain due to activation of 'mirror neurons' in the brain. (except autism spectrum disorders, which is not only diagnostic categories, but also a dimension).
This mutual empathy, if and when present, builds up the real human bond. It is easier not to care, or care for one self in a material way. It is difficult to care for anonymous, faceless humanity with an academic, professional or clinical interest. It is most difficult to deeply love and care for oneself or for others. That is the path... if one can touch that point for one, the path opens for unity with multitude.

The entire idea of love and devotion based mysticism is this: if you can't love the world which you can see, how will you love 'that' which you can't see in such palpable, sensory way.

OR say 'एक लफ्जे मोहब्बत का इतना ये फ़साना है, सिमटे तो दिले आशिक, फैले तो ज़माना है'
(one word love has only a short story, it shrinks to the heart of the beloved, it is the world when expanded)

In the end there are some interesting theories about the proportion of positive versus negative emotions and experiences and interactions, using complicated mathematical models. These are just in the infancy, and guess individuals differ in their abilities to respond to such proportions. For some people no amount of positive interactions are strong enough, which a single perception of negative interaction will not bulldoze.
B also have some similar tendency. There is high need for having positive interactions, and approval, and a single perception of slightly negative interaction just spoils it all. These are long term learned behaviors and take lot of time to change, slowly. (I guess both A and B are sensitive, borrowing from a famous quote... they are delicate, their inner sense of comfort get shaken by a sneer, a yawn, stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right person's brow...)

A knew all this, understood what is happening... Still would be upset once in a while, but with less frequency with increasing understanding. This time A would try not to be demanding, but just communicating. And if there is no response from B, accept it, and try to take things further and loving the next day।
A thought this is still building up of a relationship, drop by drop they both are making a relationship work, understanding and accepting each other and their similarities and differences, and becoming more loving and compassionate। All is well।

But all was not well. B felt trapped in a long distance relationship. It had not worked out in a past relationship. For B, e-mails are worst form of communication, sms a little better probably or same, chats can be fun, phone calls are good, skype video chats are great and meeting in person and spending time together was often amazing. But not for too long!
Even meeting together has to end before the brain starts shutting down, has to be goal directed, engaged in some joint activity, conversation, games, walking. Just silence, lead to drifting apart.

A felt time is short, relationship will soon be 1 yr old. Almost one year of attending to, focusing upon, understanding each other, means a lot. A will get to meet B in 2-3 months, across continents, and again be in a similar geographical location in few added months. B saw these as long periods of time, where A is either too available or too distant geographically. It doesn't serve a functional purpose.

And then, there are other exciting options.
So they broke up when B was asked out on a date by a colleague. It ended fast, erasing concrete memories by deleting pictures.

The cycle re-starts and B is in phase 1 'Again'.
This is fun, this is exciting, stimulating, exhilarating...
A watches from a distance, wondering how long before B's brain will react to too much of constant stimulation of a date, who is also a colleague in same office, and lives in same geographical space.
The academic question is ... what will happen in phase 2?
Will B always cover the shortest distance between phase 1 and 2, between illusion and disillusionment, before needing a break? Then again feeling only a little lonely, looking for someone to fill only that small space, be high value and lower maintenance less than the internet server which shares B's living space.

(Though A also thinks, B and this colleague make a very good pair and might be pretty compatible, less vulnerable to work-life balance issues when work is what they have been doing together in any case for years. And especially when self-expansion and enrichment is not the goal of life, and similar partner is preferred instead of a complementary one. With good dose of motherly affection, A is happy for them and wishes them all well).

The very sharp edges, the unique idiosyncrasies, the humanness of the other person always spreads in the frame, to make the distinction between a machine and a human. This we are not taught in the schools, universities, but only in the class of life. a few do have additional inborn advantage, but rest every one has to learn, sooner better than later.
That is why couple's therapists believe, in majority of cases you leave one relationship with 10 problems and then you enter another, with another set of 10 problems.

A is devastated, but still not decompensated psychologically this time. A is only looking for answers to 'how do I live' more holistically, more deeply, with lot more of meaning and sacredness than the current level. Guess A had some intuitive ideas of what may happen sooner or later. Only if ...

Its not easy, but still more easier to live with the material issues of ones life and world and keep relationships at that level. But living with ever deepening engagement with and commitment to one's self, relationships and the world around is more difficult. But also very fulfilling and worthwhile.
Hope the question itself gives strength to A and the answer keep unfolding moment by moment...

5 comments:

  1. I wish A all the love in the world...in its truest form.

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  2. Yes wish A all well.
    Heard that A has finally offered these flowers in the river. Not thrown, but also not kept them. They say, flowers once flown in river never return back to bloom on branches.
    Guess its finally over!!!

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  3. Our relationship with the cosmos is eternal...what seems to be over is just a speck of dust that got blown away by the lightest breeze.
    When answers are hard to find from where we stand, the best solution is ALTITUDE.
    A is doing the right thing, going the right way :-)

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  4. Makes so much sense... Altitude!
    Guess these are the hardest and the best lessons of life. Some times I feel our generation is so very blessed ... we get truly amazing number of opportunities to practice in every day life and in every moment... :)

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  5. BTW, loved ur new style on ur blog...poems, pics all that! Can't comment there since i can't login.
    loved talking too today :)
    May u be happier & more peaceful!

    ReplyDelete