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Do we love the people we love for who they are? Or who who would like them to be?
There is an interesting Greek story about a great sculptor named Pygmalion who found all the women of Cyprus imperfect and decided to create a sculpture based on his idea of the perfect woman. It took him several months to complete the statue, but his creation looked so perfect that he fell in love with it – he called her Galatea. However, Pygmalion increasingly became desperate and unhappy as he had fallen in love with a statue that was lifeless and wouldn’t respond to his love.
What has ‘Pygmalion’ to do with relationships? Sometimes, what attracts us to someone is the differences (“opposites attract”) in their traits. However, as we move into a closer and long term relationship with the person, the same differences (that we once liked) becomes ‘flaws’ or ‘imperfections’.
We then gradually (knowingly or unknowingly) start a ‘Pygmalion Project’ – where we try to change our loved one into this perfect ‘Galatea’ – based on our values, our background and our outlook on life. We try sculpting them through various means. But like Pygmalion, we end up unhappy and frustrated because even if they change under pressure, it isn’t their natural self and people are at their best when they are in their natural self. So this whole project, even if it looks like a success (which means you were able to change your loved one), is actually a failure.
This pertains to a parent-child relationship as well where the parent often starts a Pygmalion Project on the child. Just because the child is born from you, does not mean he/she has to be ‘you’. Nothing could explain this better than Kahlil Gibran’s poem on children.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
The Greek myth of Pygmalion does end on a sweet note with the Goddess Venus bringing Galatea to life and Pygmalion marrying her to live happily ever after.
In real life however, to be happy in a relationship, one needs to give up on the Pygmalion projects, and love people for what they are.
couple holding hands image via Shutterstock
Sophia is the founder of Soul Cafe, a mom, a travel and life enthusiast. She has keen interest in studying human relationships and behavioral patterns. After a decade of playing various roles in the corporate read more...
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'Dr Saloni will take care of everything,' my MIL said. My cowardly husband refused to go against his mother’s wishes. I was left to fend for myself!
Some time ago, I went to a marriage ceremony with my parents. It was a very high-profile marriage – not the ones we usually were invited to – but in this case it was Ramesh uncle’s son’s marriage. Ramesh uncle was my father’s first cousin. He began his career as a humble elevator operator at the TIC business group. With his sheer hard work, grit, and the knack of sensing the right opportunities, within eighteen years he became the president of the company. My father and he were the best of friends during their school time.
Half an hour before the stipulated time, we left our house, hired an auto and reached the venue. All four of us were in our best outfits. Getting out of the auto and looking at each other, we were highly convinced that we were going to fit in just right. As we crossed the dazzling and beautiful portico, we felt very insignificant compared to the big lawn and building lying ahead.
Mother was wearing all the jewellery she had got, including the big old-fashioned necklace, earrings and shiny bangles. Father was wearing a velvet coat, brother had put on a light orange shirt with a black check coat, I myself was wearing a red salwar kurta with a net dupatta. I had put on a necklace with red beads which at the time of wearing looked very pretty to me. Now looking at the other guests, I felt all four of us must be looking like clowns who had come for a fancy-dress competition. I felt my brother and parents were also feeling self-conscious and uneasy now.
Live-in relationships are legal in the eyes of the law. Read on to know more on the rights of women in live-in relationships.
Live-in relationships may sound exciting. But sometimes they become complicated, especially for women and the children born from a live-in relationship. It’s important to be aware of rights of women in live-in relationships.
Live-in relationships are where a woman and man live under one roof with mutual consent, like husband and wife, but without getting married. This has become very common in metropolitan cities these days, where two independent people simply do not want to get married. This relationship can be terminated without the consent of the other party.
Live-in relation may not be recognized completely at the social level, but Indian law does consider this relationship to be legal.
So - is the statement 'opposites attract' true only in the realm of science? Or is this truism really true of love?
So – is the statement ‘opposites attract’ true only in the realm of science? Or is this truism really true of love?
“Opposites attract is more a scientific principle than a romantic one” – Minh Tan
"Why did you bow?" One of his friends looked at him with deep disappointment. "You are now destined to be a joru ka gulaam for the rest of your life."
“Why did you bow?” One of his friends looked at him with deep disappointment. “You are now destined to be a joru ka gulaam for the rest of your life.”
I remember the day I got married. Nothing surprising about that of course since most people remember the day they got married. Of course, there is always that one moment that we can recall particularly lucidly. I do too. No, it isn’t the moment when I walked into the ornately decorated pavilion and saw him waiting for me (though that was very special indeed) nor the moment when the priest concluded the elaborate ceremony and declared us husband and wife.
Actually, that one moment which will always remain firmly etched in my memory is when we exchanged garlands. I will never forget that moment.