Do we know how to relate to other people without fear & hurt driving us?What we call relationships seem to be people taking turns to misbehave.When small children behave badly, it’s called tantrum throwing. They’re parented with punishments to instill fear & distress – adult version of the same. Women throw tantrums, men withold affection. The assertive bully, the passive betray. Bosses & subordinates, clients & vendors take turns to exploit, undercut & demean each other. It’s all just different cycles of alternating misbehaviour. The unique ways we pass-the-distress-parcel are the stories of our relationships.

Is misbehaving the only way to cope with the very natural experiences of fear, grief, disappointment? Misbehaviour does not actually help us cope, it creates even more things for us to cope with, not the least of all, the wounds we inflict on other people. If you don’t believe in karma, consider the vindictive culture that justifies lashing out & weaponises trauma. We all live in it; we are it.

I’m trying to define myself outside my reactions that harm other people. I’m often thrown off track but each day I see myself a little more clearly & I like what I see better.

But I don’t know if relationships can be more than mutual misbehaviour. What does it look like when we take β€˜You-can-hurt-me-if-I-can-hurt-you’ off the table? What’s dosti that rejects the β€˜no sorry, no thank you’ rule? Can commitment be more than a combined entitlement to erode each other’s peace of mind? Is romance possible that does not pay for the right to damage by offering yourself up to be damaged? What does a family or a society where we don’t penalise each other for having needs, look like? When we stop letting misbehaviour be the basic unit of our interactions with each other, who are we? As individuals & with & to each other?


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