Human relationship is complex, complicated, and confusing. People write songs to serenade love and the hate, disappointment, jealousy, and elation that they bring. People write books to tell stories of romance and the murder, great achievement, and dark deeds that they inspire. People make the movie to showcase the life and the beauty, destruction, revenge, and joy that they expose. We need to establish a loving and close relationship to keep the family together. We maintain a friendly and trusting relationship with people with whom we share common interests and ideals. We keep a guarded and causal relationship with people at work to avoid personal conflict of interest. We have learned to think, behave, and talk differently depending on the people whom we are with, the situation that we are in, and the place that we are at. We lie to hide the true intention, pretend to be something that we are not, and change our physical appearance as demanded by human relationships.
The relationships in a family are well-defined and straightforward. Ideally:
1) Husband and wife shall love and support each other in good and bad times till death do they part,
2) Parents provide the physical needs and mental nourishments while the children look to their parents for protection and advice on how to interact with other people,
Instead, in real life:
1) Between the husband and wife, there are frequent arguments on financial matters, work-related issues, and social activities that interfere with house chores,
2) Between parents and children, it is a constant tug of war between discipline and disobedience, overprotection and over spoiled, high expectation and high disappointment.
The average family life is seldom routine, harmonious, and full of tender loving care. But, it is a perfect setting for the adults to have a true relationship with minimum pretense and with a common objective, and for the children to learn about sacrifice, trust, and unselfish love.
At work, we are required to keep the relationships with the other workers causal and respectful at a distance. Each employee’s primary function is to perform one’s job assignments according to one’s best capabilities. If help is needed on the job, it will be handled professionally – no favoritism, no short cut, and no slacking off. However, after working for an average of eight hours a day, five days a week, year in and year out, various types of human relationships are developed:
1) Camaraderie - Coworkers draw strength and encouragement from one another to complete difficult tasks,
2) Rivalry - Some workers insist on doing things their ways generating friction and tension in the workplace,
3) Intimacy - Workers of the opposite sex develop a close relationship that not only degrades the working environment but also tears the family apart.
We devote a lot of time and energy to the workplace where our livelihood depends on. We also get a lot of pleasure and stress from the work assignments and relationships with the other workers.
A healthy social life can bring relief to the routine of family life and the stress from the workplace. In social life, there is no responsibility that we have to commit to, no promise to be taken seriously; we can share jokes and gossips just to laugh without worrying about consequences. However, the kind of human relationships we can establish are limited and constrained:
1) Childhood friends – To start, we do not have that many friends when we were a child and only a few of us can keep the friendship alive and well to adulthood. On top of that, some of our mental and physical needs are no longer the same to keep the friendship close as before,
2) New friends – As an adult, we find it difficult to make close friend especially friends whom we can share private feelings and secrets. The best relationship we can expect is to have someone we can get together with regularly for sports and dinners, occasionally for special events, and rarely for emotional and financial supports.
We are social animals; we need a family to give us purpose in life, friends to understand the meaning of existence, and a workplace to realize how the real world works. In each of these places how well we can keep the human relationships working depends on how we learn to think, behave, and say things differently:
1) Someone can be a good parent but find it difficult to keep friends socially and be unhappy at work,
2) Someone can be a good manager at work and popular at the social scenes but have a dysfunctional family,
3) Someone can be a playboy in different social circles but does not know how to play with their children and find no permanent work.
Human relationship is not simple, easy, and pure. There are sacrifices to be made, prices to be paid, tears to be shed, betrays to face, and most importantly, happiness to be enjoyed, compassion to be experienced, and love to be celebrated.