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Should 'Conditions Apply' In Love And Relationships?

16/12/2015 8:06 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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In an attempt to make relationships more satisfying, humans tend to set conditions. In business, conditions help to protect the interests of the risk-taking party. But when set in relationships, conditions uncomfortably strangle the growth of the bond.

In fact, conditions and satisfaction are inversely proportional to each other. The more conditions you put in a relationship, the less satisfying it tends to be.

Relationships are like a flowing river; conditions are like restricting walls. When held forcibly, water stagnates. Relationships when held with conditions, deteriorate. Conditions in a relationship are like trying to hold down a dragon using many chains. As soon as the dragon is chained, it begins to struggle to break free.

Conditions in a relationship are like trying to hold down a dragon using many chains. As soon as the dragon is chained, it begins to struggle to break free.

Most look at relationships as happiness enhancers. And to ensure that their happiness quota is met, they strategically place conditions. The story of the Mahabharata begins with such conditional love. King Shantanu fell in love with Ganga who put a condition that he would never question her actions no matter what. Desperately addicted to Ganga's beauty, he agreed to her clause. Only when she began throwing every child born into the river, did Shantanu begin to feel the frustration of that condition. He finally broke the chains by questioning her inhuman acts. Her attachment to her conditions and his need for the freedom to express himself ended that relationship.

Next, King Shantanu fell in love with Satyavati who came with her own set of conditions. She would marry him if he agreed to make her son the next king. Not wanting to repeat history, the king retreated from entering into the bond. But his son through Ganga intervened and took an oath to fulfill the conditions of Satyavati to ensure his father's happiness. The condition did give happiness to Satyavati initially, but eventually it led to immense dissatisfaction. That very condition became the cause of her helplessness later in life.

When one is conditioned to happiness, one tries to ensure the enhancement of this happiness by putting conditions. When one is conditioned to satisfaction, one lets relationships flow freely, ensuring satisfaction enhancement.

When a bone is broken, a cast holds it in place. Props always indicate a weak limb. When relationships need to be held in place with the props of conditions, it only indicates its weakness. In fact, adding conditions to relationships is like amateur experimentation with seasonings in cooking. What is supposed to add taste may actually end up adding bitterness to the relationship!

However, conditions are not always bad. When seen with the lens of self-interest they tend to take an ugly shape. But when seen with the lens of cooperation they may actually enhance bonding.

In the game of love, the question is always, "Do 'I' set rules or do 'we' set rules?"

When seen with the lens of self-interest [conditions] tend to take an ugly shape. But when seen with the lens of cooperation they may actually enhance bonding.

In the Mahabharata, we find Draupadi getting married to the five Pandavas. On their wedding day, Narada advised them to mutually set appropriate conditions to make this odd marriage work. Under his guidance, the six of them worked out strict principles that each of them would meticulously follow to ensure harmony in the relationship. Because they had mutually decided this, they strived to adhere to it harmoniously, and managed to make the tricky relationship work wonderfully.

Even a natural process like breathing is governed by certain conditions to ensure harmony. Both the nostrils don't work simultaneously. When conditions are used to ensure harmony in a relationship those conditions are in sync with nature's laws. When conditions are used to enhance one-sided satisfaction those conditions are coded by selfishness.

In an attempt to protect their valuables, people tend to use very difficult-to-open locks. When you want to open it desperately, it just doesn't open. Some locks are so complicated that your valuables remain safely locked forever. Conditions in relationships are like locks. In an attempt to protect a relationship, one may lock it with conditions. If the condition is complicated with self-interest, it may lock the relationship forever. If the condition is in the spirit of cooperation, it may protect the relationship forever.

We will do well to remember that conditions are meant to protect love and not seal love.

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