Life’s drama – Look around you, all the people that you know or have known, think who has what traits that you do not like. And then look at yourself and list all your traits that you like. You will notice that you have surrounded yourself with lots of people with traits that you do not like. Some of them are annoying and cause more stress than others but we still keep them in our life. Everyone has one or more of those traits that we do not like but we still love them, hang around them, and sometimes depend on them. Why? Why do we surround ourselves with such people?
From this thought I drew two conclusions- first that opposites attract, and second, everyone possesses certain traits that we do not like. Let us explore these further.
1. We get attracted to the traits that we admire but we don’t have. Because grass is always greener on the other side. So, it is a common conscious and subconscious tendency to get attracted to someone who possesses those traits. If I am not good looking and always wanted to be one, I will lean towards good looking people, if I am not very social and admire socializing as a good trait, I would be inclined to make more extrovert/social people my friend and vice versa. There are hundreds of such traits where people get attracted to a person of traits that they like, and in the process, they overlook or fail to recognize other traits and behaviors that become more important in life to maintain a relationship. A short person marrying a tall person just for the height can be dangerous in the long run. This is a very obvious example but if you go deeper into traits that really matter to sustain in any relationship, such as introvert vs extrovert, kind and giving vs a miser, free will and attitude vs person with lots of insecurities, nomadic spirit vs homebody. These relationships exist between siblings, parent and child, friends, coworkers etc..
2. The second conclusion was that every person has certain traits that we do not agree with, don’t like, irritate us or in many cases annoy the hell out of us. They can be very simple things such as interrupting your every sentence, trying to one up on everything you say, complaining about everything you do, nagging etc.. or they can go deeper where the values crash. I am a religious person and the other person makes fun of religion, I believe in rituals and other person is vehemently opposed to it. I am very flexible and open minded but the other person is rigid and stickler of principles. But looking at these annoying things usually comes from deeper reasons. Some things are the result of controlling instinct, some may be the result of insecurities, some from deep rooted fears, some from abuse, some from just cultural upbringing.
So what is the problem, you say. For any relationship to flourish, the baggage (traits you don’t like) must be minimal. More the mismatching traits, higher the chances of failing. Whenever the traits and values that you are attracted to, is outweighed by the traits that you resent, the relationship falters. Now reverse this scenario, if people are moving out of your relationship, you are carrying certain traits that people resent. It’s time to look at yourself and figure out why you are failing relationships. And if you start disliking many people, what is it that you are looking for? Are you looking for a perfect match?
Believe it or not, we are always evaluating our relationships, I call it judging others. We are always looking for a perfect relationship, we are generally not happy with many situations we are in at any given point. This is our constant desire to reach perfection; Our desire to reach the state of Nirvana. Each person’s definition of perfection is different and unique; hence every person’s definition of Nirvana is unique. We all are trying to find our perfect state, a Utopia.
Then what is our state of Nirvana and why no one ever reaches that state? Our state of perfection is having an ideal balance of – traits, thinking, values, and material things that we possess, and traits, thinking, values, and material things that we value but don’t have. We know what we have and can attain but there will always be traits, thinking, and material things that we never are or will be able to attain. Hence, we will never be able to reach the state of Nirvana.
Well, that was a broad generalization but I am sure there are some people who have reached or claim to have reached that perfect state of balance in their relationship where they have controlled their desires, they have practiced the unconditional acceptance of each other and managed their definition of perfection, perfectly.
But those people are exceptions. How do we, the common people, reach that state? And this is where we must know us. Often, when we make friends or get into intimate relationships, be it any kind of relationship that requires your commitment of any kind, we don’t do a cross-check (judgment) of each other’s values, and behaviors prior to entering in a relationship. We get into the relationship then start judging people. We commit first and then evaluate. We make friends first based on some superficial traits such as he/she is “a nice person”, “speaks well”, “jovial”, “fan of the same sporting team”, “of the same religion”, “drinks the same drink” “from your town”, and so on.. Then once they become friends, we start judging them. That in my opinion causes most heartaches and breakups.
Building relationships is like recruiting someone for a long-term employment in your company. You want to recruit someone with the intent to have someone who can meet most, if not all, your requirements of the job. Certain qualifications are required, certain are strongly preferred and some just good to have. Then the hired person must fit within your economic, emotional, time and availability budget and company culture.
How can we evaluate or judge people before committing to a relationship?
1. Build relationships with intent; ask yourself why you are interested in building this relationship
2. Create a list of values and behaviors that you value most and give each trait a weight with a positive number
3. Create a list of values and behaviors that you cannot tolerate and give each trait a weight with a negative number
4. Start observing, before committing, the traits in item 2 and 3
5. Have one-on-one conversation about items 2 and 3 lists
6. Analyze your data, can you commit to the items in your two lists?
7. Subtract the score of item 3 from the score of item 2 list. Which list outscores the other?
8. A high positive score, Net Relationship Score (NRS) of 50 or above, and a Net Relationship Index (NRI) of 50% or above the negative score is what you should be targeting for a good relationship. (See an example chart below)
9. Stay away from negative and borderline NRS and NRI numbers. Negative score people will cause negative effects in your life and borderline numbers people will cause heartache later in life.
You must be thinking this is crazy, who in their right mind does this. But surprisingly, we all do. The difference is we do it after getting into a relationship and not before. That is why some relationships break, which cause unnecessary emotional stress and drama in our lives.
The process of scoring your close friends does not have to be so formal. This is k=just a way to recognize what traits you value and which ones you cannot accept. This exercise helps us understand better. Then you say that people change. You were in a friendship with some people who are no longer attractive to you as friends because you have matured or changed your viewpoints, you have grown. It usually happens with your childhood friends. Yo may find several friends who you used to connect with dearly and promised never to break the friendship in this life, are no longer as connected as they used to be, mainly because of the paths and the values that you or your friends acquired over a period of time don’t sync up with your values and paths anymore. The same thing happens in marital and romantic relationships where one person in the relationship finds they are no longer on the same dimension/level/plane as they used to be. Hence, it is critical that you evaluate your relationships based on your current state of mind and values. This evaluation/scoring should be done at least annually to see where all those relationships stand.
Get out of negative relationships. And the ones who score high NRS value, keep them in your life. Look at all your borderline NRS positive score people, move them to the sidelines as extras, and play the game of life with your high NRS people. And one day, you may reach that state of Relationship Nirvana.
|Desired Traits (just for examples)||Weight||Yes (1), No (0)||Points (weight x Yes/no)||Cumulative Score|
|Kind and Compassionate||5||1||5||45|
|UNDesired Traits (just for examples)||Weight||Yes (-1), No (0)||Points (weight x Yes/no)||Cumulative Score|
|Height below 4.8’||20||0||0||0|
|Weight above 300 lbs||30||1||30||30|
Positive Score – 50
Negative Score – 37
Net Relationship Score = (50-37) = +13
Net Relationship Ratio = ((13/50) * 100) = 26%