I had a conversation with a female friend of mine about relationships and why they do or don’t seem to work out. We were in the midst of moving her furniture out from the house her and her now ex-fiancé had planned to move into after marriage. Out of left field somewhere I came up with the following analogy to explain my view on the dynamics behind growing relationships between one man and one woman.
I picture a man and woman who have agreed to stop from their happenstance meetings along the sidewalk in order to sit down at a park bench together in order to become more acquainted. Once acquainted, they then agree to begin, or simply find themselves beginning, a “friendship”. At this point a paper bag is set between them. Each partner has a steady flow of coins in their possession to spend as they choose. We will say these coins represent their free time, a phone call, thoughts about their partner, niceties, invitations to be together, etcetera.
In a healthy relationship one partner reaches into his or her pocket and tosses a coin into this paper bag sitting between them. A little while later the other responds by tossing a coin of equal or lesser value into the bag… i.e.: the relationship. Back and forth they carefully, slowly invest into this paper bag. Sometimes one more than the other and then vice-versa in a somewhat equal manner. After a while the coins become larger in value and in a very carefree, generous way. This treasury between them grows until it becomes obvious the paper bag (friendship) will not contain much more of this activity without bursting. A new, more suitable container must replace it. Either a nicer, more permanent, canvas Friendship (Phileo Love) bag or a nicer, more permanent, canvas Romance (Eros Love) bag. The money is poured into one or the other after much discussion and a decision is made. Sometimes it is placed first into one bag only to be poured quickly into the other, but a decision is made and the treasury continues.
However, in an unhealthy relationship two persons find themselves seated at this same park bench. Perhaps one manipulates the other or draws them under false pretenses or perhaps they genuinely find themselves there as mutual Friends. The paper bag is placed between them. In this example I will begin with the female. She drops the first coin into the bag; an invitation to lunch, let’s say. He accepts. After a while, there is no second coin from the man so she is willing to drop another coin into the bag; a day at the park. He attends but once again does not reciprocate. After she has dropped perhaps ten coins into the bag, which he is glad to accept as a mutually owned treasury, she brings up the issue of the one sidedness in the contributions thus far. He responds by dropping in a coin, she responds with another ten coins before he deposits again.
In the grand name of forbearance, charity, or hopeless romanticism the female takes on the mission of believing that if she increases her deposits to this mutual fund he will surely be won over by her generosity and begin to invest equally. She rushes to fill the paper bag to the point where a new container must now be chosen. At this point he is willing to do one of three things.
First, the man may have the decency to place the heavy coinage into the canvas, long-lasting Friendship bag and she will then know to save and place her Romantic deposits elsewhere. In this case she still suffers some sense of loss, but has gained a friend, if an emotionally costly one at that. Secondly, he might choose to pacify her with promises of a decision to choose a better container sometime in the future, but procrastinates while enjoying her sacrificial deposits until finally the paper bag rips wide open and the coins burst out everywhere only to fall down the rain-gutter grill below. At this point she is furious at his insensitivity and either leaves, accepting her loss or foolishly gets another paper bag and begins to fill it again at her own expense. This might seem like insanity to see it presented this way, but it happens continuously. Finally, the man may selfishly decide that the labor of transferring the coinage into a leather friendship bag is not only too much work, but will not be as profitable to his own comfort and thus he decides to simply stand up and walk away. True, the bag is full of coins, but very few of them are his and he leaves with little remorse or regret.
Now this unhealthy scenario happens as easily with the man giving of all his investment while the woman takes on the role of receiving without reciprocating or investing into the relationship. This is not a catch all for all the options that can occur between a man and a woman of course, but in sharing this analogy with my friend it has given me a new set of eyes with which to observe new friendships/relationships in the works.
If I find myself maintaining the relationship alone or to an imbalanced degree, that is my red-flag warning that I might be all alone in my ideas of a growing love. It is at this point one finds just how dearly they subscribe to the idea of “Honesty is the best Policy”. When an imbalance becomes painfully apparrent or percieved by on of the partners, it would seem thier responsibility to discuss the hurt and issues directly with the other partner. Of course, the much easier road of attempting to imply all this by way of innuendo and “game playing” is always an option, but usually a poor method of communication with dire results as many of you can attest.
In short, the person with greater investment in a relationship should always be willing to retain their self-respect and be willing to walk away from a bad situation if that be the case. I consider it a much better option than persuing a one-sided love affair any day of the week.
Henry Velez is a writer, traveler and vlogger currently living in the Philippines. He has written extensively on social issues, relationships and travel.