Boy meets girl…their eyes locked and held for 2 seconds; the connection had been made way beyond when their hands touched in a hand shake. They both had to consciously end the handshake as her boss, who had introduced them, was beginning to look askance at the vibe of instant connection between them.
The boy was Desmond and the girl was Erica. They had met at a meeting involving their respective work organizations. Desmond represented his organization, while she represented hers. Before the meeting ended, they had exchanged business cards, but business was far from Desmond’s mind. That very evening, Desmond had called her and put to good use his baritone voice. Soon, they were in a relationship that grew so rapidly, it surprised even the people around them. They seemed to have no control over it. According to them, love had found them!
It didn’t take long before they were together all of the time. Outside of work hours, if you saw one, you were bound to see the other. They were soon deeply intertwined in each others lives.
But there was a dark part to their love story. Desmond was a control freak. He was a typical man’s man, who liked to be in charge. Considering the fact that Erica was equally headstrong, ambitious, and sometimes stubborn, it was a wonder how they had been able to make it work.
Except that it wasn’t. Inevitably, the honeymoon phase of their relationship passed, and the glaring reality of their similar domineering personalities came to the fore. In the end, something had to give, and Erica learnt how to be the submissive one, even as it didn’t come naturally for her. She learnt how to let go, and allowed him to be right…even when he was wrong.
She did this because she loved him…and this worked for a short time. But sometimes they still had some personality clashes. This was compounded when Erica’s job was threatened, and she found herself eager to start a business, which she would be able to run in her free time. The business idea was one she had been incubating for a while.
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Upon discussing it with Desmond, he vehemently opposed it, giving the excuse that it would take too much of her time, and wouldn’t help their family life. The irony was that they were not yet married…he had not even proposed to her. Erica was devastated. She had expected stoic support from him, and not the dismissive way with which he talked down her dream.
He suggested an alternative business idea, one which she did not connect with. To make him happy, she proceeded with the idea, and invested her money in the project. After three months, it was obvious the business had failed.
Instead of being sympathetic, Desmond blamed her for the failure, saying it had happened because she did not follow all his instructions concerning the business. Erica was crushed!
She recalled the days when they had been deliriously happy…and how theirs had morphed from a relationship to a ‘situationship’…a situation with her being happy only when he was happy with her. She thought about how Desmond suddenly had nothing but complaints about her…the way she dressed, her makeup, her cooking…nothing satisfied him anymore.
It continued with her friends, the same friends she had when she met him, and whom he had even hung out with in the early days, were now supposedly a bad influence. He had succeeded in alienating her from them, such that she hardly ever saw them.
The more she thought about it, the more she knew she would no longer be in a relationship that was based on her behaving only according to his taste, for her to be loved. Desmond’s love had become conditioned on her pleasing him, and she realized that was not going to work for her any more. Things had to change.
The next day, she called him to her place, to talk about their relationship, and how things had changed. Rather than show remorse, her had emphasized the fact that she was, indeed, his ‘property’, and how she had to behave in a certain way for them to last as a couple.. Her worst fear had been confirmed.
Erica broke up with a surprised Desmond, who did not see it coming at all. She knew it was time to take back the reins of control of her life.
In conditional relationships, love becomes like a switch that can be turned off and on, as it pleases the party with the upper hand. In these cases, there really is no love…just all shades of control, usually by a partner trying to hide a deep-rooted neediness.
Whatever you do, never forget that love is not conditional.