Love of the unromantic kind

Posted on 14 February 2011

Roses and chocolates are so cliché. Let’s talk about friendship instead.

By Rachel Teng

Folks giving out free roses and copies of Today newspaper. Photo: TERENCE LEE

SINCE today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it will be good to reflect on relationships, and not just of the romantic sort.

PR guru James E. Grunig has an interesting way of classifying relationships: Either you’re part of an exchange relationship or a communal relationship.

In an exchange relationships, “one party gives benefits to the other only because the other has provided benefits in the past or is expected to do so in the future.”

Reading that statement alone motivated me to write this article, by the way.

It’s a sad truth that people are often engaged in such relationships. If only more belong to the latter kind, where “parties are willing to provide benefits to the other because they are concerned for the welfare of the other.”

Relationships these days are becoming more and more superficial. It is difficult to determine which is for real or which is simply for gain. But Grunig believes communal relationships consist of several elements, and this could help us develop lasting friendships.

Control Mutuality: the degree that parties in a relationship are satisfied with the amount of control that they have over the relationship.

My friend once told me that in a relationship, there’s a need to define, whether consciously or subconsciously, a dominant figure between the two.

But whether or not there is truth to the idea that there must be a dominant figure, both parties need to have a certain degree of control; a voice.

Trust: the level of confidence that both parties have in each other and their willingness to open themselves to the other party.

This is definitely expected, and I think this could be one of the reasons why some people can remain single all their lives.

Even in friendships, I feel that trust can determine the strength of the relationship.

Commitment: the extent to which both parties believe and feel that the relationship is worth spending energy on to maintain and nurture.

Pardon the image because I couldn’t find a picture more apt to depict commitment.

But anyway, when one party fails to commit, the relationship can break down. It applies to relationships between friends too. Just think about it, if no one wants to commit to the friendship, then it cannot develop to a higher level.

It’s sad to hear about it sometimes because you’d feel that there’s so much potential for that relationship to grow, yet it takes two hands to clap. There isn’t really anything much the other party could do; forcing a relationship to work just wouldn’t suffice.

Satisfaction: the extent to which both parties feel favourably about each other.

This is probably the first step to a deeper relationship; where both parties find that they can click, or feel that they are comfortable with each other.

If you start wondering why you may be feeling like a loner, look around and check if the problem lies with yourself, and whether you’re having too high an expectation from a friendship.

Valentine’s Day is a good reminder for us to appreciate the people around us, the people whom we’ve gone through thick and thin with, the acquaintances whom we should probably spend a bit more time to get to know, the long-lost friends who we should try to contact. It is also a ime to reflect on our past and current relationships and think of how we can improve them.

All I’m saying is that no one knows what the future holds, so take the time to appreciate whoever has stepped into your life.

I believe that each of them were there for a reason.

Rachel is an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore who is an aspiring journalist and columnist. With much interest in business, she intends to pursue a business minor along with her Communications and New Media degree. Visit her blog here.

This post was written by:

- who has written 81 posts on New Nation.

Terence is an online media nut that is obsessed with writing and publishing on the Internet. Recently, he took up photography to expand his repertoire, and hopes to learn videography soon. He has worked in both online and print publications such as The Straits Times, Today, Mind Your Body, The Online Citizen, and Funkygrad. He is currently the assistant editor with SGEntrepreneurs, a website that covers entrepreneurship in Singapore and Asia. Terence can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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