Are we looking to be rescued or loved in a relationship? 

Going through a crisis together makes you believe in the relationship. But its longevity and feasibility are better gauged when both of you feel emotionally powerful and independent of each other

Somi DasUpdated: Saturday, August 27, 2022, 10:37 PM IST
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K and I have been seeing each other for almost a year now. For the first few months, we were not even dating seriously. We knew it would last only as long as we were in the same city. Both of us were looking for opportunities that could take us to different parts of the country. Soon we parted ways and settled in our new destinations, promising to be good friends and well-wishers. Strangely, we couldn’t get over each other. Despite all kinds of hurdles - distance, age gap, precarious future prospects, we became each other’s emotional support system and saw each other through some difficult times in the last year – both in our personal and professional life. Ever since I quit my job, he has taken care of me, putting a roof over my head, without nagging about when I was going to go back to working full time or expressing any kind of annoyance of me taking up space in his house.

Now, K and I have settled into a comfortable roommate-like situation temporarily. He goes to the office and I stay back to job hunt and write articles, and also do the household chores. To be honest, my day begins when his shift ends. Him finishing work and arriving home is the only thing I look forward to. I find myself looking for affordable but fun places to eat or a good movie that both of us would enjoy. We have also begun to depend a great deal on each other for daily tasks.

Like I pick up fruits for him which he would never do by himself, and he drops me to a cafe where I can study for the whole day. What we do not do is venture into discussions about the "future of this relationship". Sometimes, when we are feeling too much in love after watching a wholesome film wrapped up in each other's arms or are hysterically laughing at his Marathi jokes we may feel bold enough to reluctantly prod that topic. And we always end up disappointing each other.

Personally, I would not decide the future course of my relationship with someone this special when I am at my most vulnerable, without a stable job, figuring out my next course of action, and recovering from the exhaustion of working with a toxic boss. Neither would I force the other person to take a decisive step to solidify the status of the relationship because at this point they see us as helpless. It is far easier to love a helpless person than a person who is confident of themselves and self-reliant, not just financially but emotionally as well.

Someone seeing you through difficult times may not always be a good measure of your compatibility or an indicator of the possibility of a healthy long-term relationship with them. When you are helping each other through a crisis at work or a phase of bad health, you tend to suspend thoughts around other aspects of the relationship that might be bothersome. Your entire focus is on getting the person out of the crisis and helping them land softly when they emerge out of it.

When we do not take such life-altering decisions as a result of bonds born out of help given during a crisis - we save ourselves from what I call the damsel-in-distress syndrome and its close cousin the knight-in-shining-armour or the rescuer syndrome. Both are dangerous traps, amply exploited by Bollywood films to spark romance but never a good marker of true love or companionship in real life. So many Bollywood films have used a dead father as the plot-twist to get the lead characters married. From Mujhse Dosti Karoge where Hrithik Roshan felt obliged to get married to Kareena Kapoor despite loving someone else, after her father’s death to Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham where Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan are united by her father’ untimely demise. We see the same trope being used in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi but in more insidious ways.

In the pre-climax scene in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi Tani (Anushka Sharma) touches Surinder Sahni’s (SRK) feet to show her gratitude for how he took care of her as the lyrics goes, "na kuch pucha, na kuch manga...tune dil se diya jo diya". In a moment of epiphany, she discovers the father figure in him and remembers how he married her after she was orphaned and abandoned by her prospective groom. She instantly falls in love with him. Through the film, by constantly fulfilling Tani's wishes, Sahni almost forces her to fall in love with him. Even the man of her dreams was just a trick avatar of her husband. She had no other option. No one knows who Tani would choose as her partner if she had a job, an identity, and no burden of guilt on her.

When we are at our lowest, it is difficult to imagine that we will not be at our lowest always. And that we will heal and revel in our power once again. Is this the same person we want to be with when we are in our power, feeling completely like ourselves, sure of who we are? Are we looking to be rescued or loved in a relationship? And should all relationships where there have been exchange of love and help end up in life-long partnership?

For now, K and I are discovering dry facts about each other. He learnt the hard way that I need to be fed when I am cranky. Food is my first aid when it comes to bad moods. He knows that Khichri is my go-to comfort food. On my part, I discovered that his vegetarian days are sacrosanct -not even gravy of butter-chicken is allowed on his plate.

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