Balance of Power: The Politics of Relationships

healthy vs unhealthy relationships

We like to think, at least those of us independent enough to choose our own life-mates, that we are equals in the relationship. At least in a ‘healthy’ relationship anyway, the partners like to believe they’re equals.

But are they? Is a healthy relationship all about equality?

I think not. Not all relationships are made of equals. Not the ones I have seen anyway.

Many relationships are like BDSM – which is not just about sex, but also has a deep psychological relevance in real life. There is someone on ‘top’ and someone on the ‘bottom’ (pun intended).

One person calls the shots and the other is a pushover- or pretending to be a pushover. One person makes all the decisions and the other simply goes along.

Even in the bedroom, one stays on top, the other on the bottom.

So why do we have inequality in relationships? How does the concept of ‘power’ figure into relationships? Why does the concept of power exist in relationships? Relationships are supposed to be about trust and understanding and support and faith.

Then why does one partner want to be on top and control everything?

Paraphrasing from my favourite actor Matthew McConaughey’s character Connor in the movie Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, the power in a relationship lies with the one who cares less.

So it’s about caring less? Those that play hard to get have the upper hand?

I’ve seen that happen. There have been such ‘relationships’ where one person played super hard to get. They made the other person hanker after them, dance to their tunes, and do anything they could do to please them and keep them satisfied. Well, such relationships usually end in disaster. Because sooner or later, the partner who has burned themselves out appeasing the other will realise they have been played for a fool.

Because relationships are not a power play- or shouldn’t be a power play. A relation whose dynamics rests on power results in inequity. And what does inequity result in?

Fights. Abuse. Resentment- which may even result in violence or murder.

Abusive relationships are power plays – your partner can abuse you only if they think they have power over you.

Just like it happened in Fifty Shades of Grey. What Christian and Anastasia had was not love…it was sexual abuse! Topped off with blackmail, stalking and coerced sex.

Never mind mommy porn, never mind that loads of people found it sexy…there is nothing – and I repeat, nothing- sexy about power inequity in relationships.

For the good health of a shared relation, of trust, understanding and mutual respect, both partners must be equal. No pushovers, no dominance, no pushiness, no making the other dance to one’s tunes.

Because the real power of a relationship is vested in both partners – and the strong, unbreakable bond of love they have. Love, trust and understanding define the true power of a relationship.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Make sure you let your partner know the power of the love and care you share with them. And not the power you have over them.

This has been written by Prachi Percy Sharma. She is a PG student, aspiring neuroscientist, novelist, prize-winning short story writer, content writer and book reviewer. She loves to read, drink coffee, eat good food and take long walks. 

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