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Stories - Part Five: Relationships and Communication
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Relationships in stories

We do things as part of a group. We have relationships with people in many ways. We may see someone in a local shop several times a week for years yet never know their name. We may meet a stranger on a plane and hear their whole life story, yet never see them again. We may meet past lovers in the street and not recognise them. We may see a stranger in the street and remember their face for years. The nature of our relationships is the basis of our life.

Here are the most common relationships:


BLOOD RELATIVES: Our family. We may love or hate them, but the bond is always there.


FRIENDS: Our choice of a relationship. They come on many levels and include shared experiences, shared interests, shared environment, and situations where sharing offers rewards.


WORK: Relationships set by circumstances and necessity of collaborating for mutual survival. Competition and collaboration are part of it.


LEISURE: The acquaintances who share common interests. It is the interest rather than the person that is the dominant feature. If we play in a team then we form bonds with the other players, but if one player leaves and another joins, the relationship is much the same.

In some ways our relationships are changing all the time. We get nearer or further from people for all sorts of reasons. We find help from people we least suspected, and find those we trust are sometimes not what they seemed. Our efforts to form stable relationships are a driving force in our lives. We want to be loved, respected, known, and sometimes even feared by others. Relationships are very complex, and almost never what they seem to be. Here are a few variations on the 'Man loves woman' theme:


Man loves woman and woman loves man. They are both available, both acceptable, very happy.


Man loves woman and woman loves man. Circumstances prevent them coming together (religion, age, race, rank, family, geography, work, etc).


Man loves woman and woman loves man. He is not free to be with her as he is married, in jail, in hospital.


Man loves woman and woman loves man. He is incapable of caring for her due to his own problems.


Man loves woman and woman loves man. She also loves another man, and is not sure whom to choose.


Man loves woman but she loves another man who is not available.


Man loves woman but she loves another woman.


Man loves woman who loves him, but his interests prevent him from giving her the life she wants (Job too busy, too dangerous, not stable).


Man loves woman but she just wants to be friends.


Man loves woman but she is on the make.


Man loves woman but cannot commit himself to anyone for long.

It would be easy to think up more variations. The term 'happy ever after' is strictly for fairy tales. The key point in examining relationships is to see what point they serve.

People form relationships because they are lonely, because they are bored, because they are attracted to someone, because they feel someone can be of use to them, because they have no choice.

People who move around a lot may find it easy to make relationships quickly, and not be upset when the relationship ends. Other people invest a lot more of themselves in relationships, and expect it to be returned. Some relationships will stand the test of time and strain, while others will crash for trivial reasons. Good friends may split over love, money, or beliefs. Good friends may be found who share trivial interests.

The reasons for friendship are not always stated in stories, but are implicitly there. Sherlock Holmes needs Watson to admire him when he makes his deductions. Bugs Bunny will talk to the audience from time to time to share his thoughts. A relationship of some form or other, even as enemies, serves the purpose of acknowledging us. Sherlock Holmes' life was partly dependent on having Dr. Moriarty as a good enemy, and in other circumstances they might well have been friends.


List six people you know, and the type of friendship you have with them.


Search: Types of human relationships

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