Rohit's Realm

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March 30, 2004

The Relationship Pyramid

While trying to go to bed last night, in a rather beleaguered state of mind, I happened to overhear yelling from outside my window at around 2 a.m. Apparently a couple was publicly breaking up in front of Cleary last night, and yelling so loud, I could hear it in my 8th floor room! Awesome! Got to love Berkeley. The conversation seemed to end (at least for me, I might have fallen asleep) with the woman yelling You don't even know what love is, you bastard! We never had a real relationship! Although both of these people were clearly idiots (not only for breaking up so melodramatically, but also for doing so at 2 a.m. on the street), they got me thinking about how people define personal relationships.

Now, the na´ve reader might be apt to say, That's easy! Relationships are about love and companionship and harmony. What this simpleminded reader does not understand is that it's a trick question! Everyone knows (although only a few accept) that there is no such thing as love, companionship, or harmony, so obviously this can't be the foundation of interpersonal relationships! In fact, I would argue that all relationships can be defined on the basis of convenience, exploitation, and self-aggrandizement.

In yet another debasing application of taxonomic principles to psychological phenomena, I'm going to break down the levels of relationships that people encounter. Let's start at the formative moment of any relationship: you meet a friend of a friend at some social gathering (party, study group, AA meeting, porn screening, whatever) and are introduced. Now the first type of identifiable relationship doesn't fall into any of the above categories: it's unintentional. This is where you recognize the person you are introduced to, but have never cared to remember his or her name. I have a lot of these relationships. Usually these relationships will never progress, leading to the awful head nod problem I discussed earlier.

But suppose that for whatever reason you do remember the person's name, and surprisingly, he or she remembers yours. The situation is ripe for the blossoming of a new stage in the relationship pyramid: the stage of asinine conversation! Now, whenever you meet on the street, you can stop, say hi, and talk about the weather for 5 minutes, before moving on, wishing you had never remembered that person's name in the first place! Basically, in my limited understanding, these sorts of relationships only exist to make you feel better about all the friends you have. They serve no other purpose.

Say there is some reason for you to want to expand your relationship with the said person (i.e., he or she is hot or you can use them in some way). The next stage is the exchange of screen names. (This was a point of contention, because I was unsure as to whether screen name or cell phone number would indicate a closer relationship, but ultimately, I concluded that people you exchange a phone number with are a subset of those you would exchange screen names with.) So now you have the person's screen name, and are forced to IM them from time to time about lame shit, just to make sure the relationship exists so you can exploit it when you need to (think keep-alive messages in TCP). Right. Friends.

Suppose you need to keep in better touch (no pun intended) with the person. You get his/her phone number and begin to talk to them over the phone. Now we're cooking! This type of relationship can be about all of the categories. Obviously there is exploitation—there is in every relationship. You could also have the self-aggrandizement from undeserved flattery customarily given to good friends and to top it all off, now you're not lonely because of this convenient relationship.

Stage 5. Getting close to the top. Say you want something more from your relationship (i.e., you're horny). Suppose the other party shares the sentiment. Now we can move into the boyfriend or girlfriend stage. Now, if this isn't convenience, I don't know what is. This doesn't require explanation.

Finally, the top stage. What some would consider true love. Commitment. Living together. Marriage (civil union, whatever). Well, like I said, there is no such thing as true love, but there are tax breaks! And that's where the pyramid peaks. In this stage, you have mutual exploitation, tons of self-aggrandizement, and of course, all the conveniences of the previous stages. And to top it all off, you can file for deductions! What could be better? So there you have it! The Relationship Pyramid! Sometimes I'm so cynical, I depress myself!


dude, in different circumstances, i would say that this pyramid is awesome. unfortunately, you are the one that said that love is more imporant than money. sorry, buddy, you're being poser again.

Ha ha yeah! Rohit's a poser! This one time, he was all like "love is soooo beautiful, I want to love all my fellow human beings and I want them to love me back!" Then he CRIED. It was awesome!

Looks like it's "attack rohit's credibility as a bitter cynical person day, as it frequently is." Let me respond to both of the above allegations by saying that they are complete bullshit! Nothing could be further from the truth! Would the person who brought you such pieces like The Awful Truth and Investing in Death ever say anything positive about love? I think not! Lies! All LIES! Don't believe a word of it!

While it's true that anything we report is hearsay - in that there is no website devoted to writing about what Rohit says from a non-Rohit writer, and therefore no record we can refer to for hard evidence - I think this is best treated as a case for critical media analysis. As anyone who truly knows Rohit well suspects, there's a lotta love lurking in the big lanky heart, and it only takes a little reading between the lines to find it. I think we can probably all remember a time when Rohit shed the facade of poserdom and then extolled the virtues of true love, and then cried. It happens all the time. I urge all readers of Rohit's Realm to share their experiences here - or on their own blogs if Rohit tries to "cover up the evidence" and not post their comments - about the times when they've also felt the true loving nature of Rohit Nafday. I'm sure it would be quite touching.

Your list is incomplete: convenience, exploitation, and self-aggrandizement.

You forgot wild crazy monkey sex.

Also, I hope to holy god that Ellie doesn't read my comment, or else I'll lose out on all the self-aggrandizement that dating her entails.

Ok, I suppose I did leave out wild crazy monkey sex. But, I would argue that while wild crazy monkey sex is a justifiable reason for a relationship, it can probably be construed to be a subset of convenience. If your goal was wild crazy monkey sex, then one way to achieve this goal would be to start a relationship that would conveniently provide the means to your end.

Cody won't lose out on self-aggrandizement. He may just have to self aggrandize himself.

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