Relationship Matrix

So, a few weeks back I finally realized that maybe I am becoming too old for this casual devil-may-care attitude. For over a decade, I have been like a dog running after a car who doesn’t know what he’ll do if the car stops. And whatever I have achieved in life has not been because of it but despite it. The constant hunt for dopamine via new encounters has cost me a lot over the years. This realization didn’t hit me after any epiphany or my latest birthday or some new heartbreak but after an invite to some ‘kickass techno’ event by a friend.

Now, I am more into soulful Sufi music, and Coke Studio/ Lucky Ali kind of listener. That’s when I realized that probably I am too old for Gen Z. But, I did need some more aesthetically appealing pictures for my Instagram profile as it had been a long time since I had posted them. Post 1 in the night, we decided to go check out another bar with a better ‘techno scene’. That’s where I met her.

It was a dimly lit bar with some famous techno artists and countless music junkies grooving to it. Towards the rear end, away from the crowd, she was standing alone and just absorbing the music. The reason I noticed her, in particular, wasn’t her naively innocent smile or her unblemished skin or her docile eyes, but her curiosity. The curiosity as to why was such a cute girl standing by herself at a bar.

With a gutsy stride, I decided to change that. I mean what is the worst that could happen? She turns utterly oblivious to my presence. I don’t that would be any different from me not approaching her at all. Across over a decade, I have never regretted following this ideology, either personally or professionally. Fortunately, we hit it off; the music was loud so we stepped out. She is an aspiring DJ and since she’s an introvert I did most of the talking, at least I’d like to presume that was the only reason. I mean after giving her a gazillion compliments, all I got in return was, “You are interesting”. While parting ways, we exchanged the modern-day equivalent of numbers: our Instagram handles.

I texted her the following week, and by that time she had gone through a couple of my posts as my site address is present on my Instagram profile. As my luck would have it, she loved my writing and we hit it off instantly. I dropped by her place as I am not into texting. She was looking even more gorgeous than the first time. She is probably the calmest, zen person I have met lately. I realized what I had been missing all my life as my mental state was the complete opposite of zen. We ended up watching something on Netflix that I wouldn’t have even imagined in the strangest of my dreams. A kid’s movie and not the Up or Kung Fu Panda genre, but one suited for kids below the age of 4 years. I could see the reason why she loved such kids’ movies, she is a complete personification of the naive innocence portrayed in them. The evening was quite warm yet unique in its ways. I just didn’t want to let go of her soothing presence.

Anyway, coming to the concept of the ‘Relationship Matrix’. It draws from the award-winning book ‘Hyper Focus’. The book is filled with amazing insights to manage our attention and focus. I highly recommend reading it to help in taming the wandering mind. Even more so now than ever when most of us are enslaved by technology, especially social media.

One of the key insights from the book is the ‘Time Utilization Matrix’. I won’t get into the deep dive as it doesn’t fall under the purview of this site. But the following matrix should be self-explanatory and will help you judiciously monitor your time to make the most out of it.

A similar matrix can be drawn in the context of romantic relationships to draw several valuable insights.

If you retrospect on your dating life, you will realize two key components across all your relationships: attractiveness and productivity. In essence, how the chemistry was in that relationship; and how stable or compatible were the two of you in that relationship. Using these two parameters, we can categorize every romantic relationship in one of the four buckets- consummate, dead, toxic, or empty.

The best form is a consummate relationship that is both attractive as well as productive. It is realized when all three components (emotional, physical, intellectual) of the triangular model are present in the relationship. It leads to maximum sustained happiness for both partners. and must be treasured.

The complete opposite is a dead relationship that is dull and unproductive. It is the worst state and must be abandoned immediately instead of prolonging the misery by engaging in the sunk cost fallacy. Your time in this world is limited, the people aren’t.

The next one is the riskiest a toxic relationship which although attractive and at times even addictive, isn’t productive and is unstable. If you are looking just for a good time with no strings attached, then it is excellent for the dopamine surge, but tread this path with caution, as it comes with an expiry date. Either both invest emotionally to take it to the consummate form, or it transfers the dead relationship bucket, a lot of times leaving one of the two hurt due to mismatched expectations. Communication is the key here,

The last one is an empty relationship which although productive is dull. Although on paper everything seems to fall in place and they are in a stable state, the spark is missing. In other words, ‘the butterflies in the stomach’ are long dead. A lot of long-distance relationships end up In this bucket after substantial time apart. In the case of empty relationships, conscious efforts need to be made to spice things up either by engaging in more fun activities together or by more spontaneous surprises, etc. It can then either successfully turn into a consummate relationship, or be abandoned into a dead relationship. In either of the two cases, you will have clarity and control over your romantic life.

That brings me to the ‘Zen girl’. So is this it? Have I finally found the soothing calmness to my turbulent life? Has this roller coaster finally reached its destination?

Well, she was coming out of a long relationship that towards the end had bucketed into the ‘empty’ category. She still was utterly confused about her feelings and wasn’t in a mindset to get involved emotionally.

Coming to our meeting, I had mentioned it was unique for me. Generally, such encounters for me are high on dopamine, majorly due to the ephemeral nature of the associated physical intimacy. This was the complete opposite as despite being visibly attracted towards me, in a literal sense she was a ‘touch me not’ kind of girl. When I was about to leave, she genuinely said something that would stay with me for a long time. I was about to give her a goodbye hug, and she politely refused by saying, “This feels like I am in my dreams, and the touch of you will make it real. I want to forever cherish meeting you in my dreams”.



4 thoughts on “Relationship Matrix”

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