Three Pieces Of Bad Advice Everybody Gives About Relationship Dynamics: Part 1

On the surprising internal relationship dynamics within a closed system.

People within established relationships have created a reliable exchange of energy and resources. Many people say three things about relationship dynamics that are, in practice, not true.

  1. People who hate each other might fall in love . . . because of hormones, or some other mysterious biological hiccup.
  2. Abusive men can be reformed through the influence of an innocent female, or through the appealing eyes of a sensible child.
  3. Economic hardships will be solved through determination and solo effort, after which, the effort-producer will be rewarded by a stable romantic relationship.

Reality of point 1: in stable relationships, partners coexist in a plane of truth and shared knowing. This makes volatile passion possible, but does not include the immature love-hate trope.

To an outsider, the relationship may look full of strife, but the two characters have their own “rules” about how the exchange of internal drama can be expressed.

The “people who hate each other” actually understand each other, and when their intellectual intimacy has grown ripe, their relationship easily spills into physical enmeshment (as in, forming an open romantic partnership with each other).

Bad Writing at the Beginning of a Love-Hate Relationship:

I can’t stand Herothio, I really can’t. The way he makes eyes at the household nymphs really makes my blood boil. If he was nearly as good-looking as he thought he was, one of the local priestesses would snap him up in a heartbeat. The truth is that he’s vain, and his hair, though glorious, does not make up for his stupid attitude. I hate Herothio. And he dresses badly, too.

Good writing at the Beginning of a Love-Hate Relationship:

“I don’t think anything matters,” Herothio moaned. His creamy brown hair flopped over his eyes as he slumped against the nymph’s doorway.

“Arathea has a man already,” I told Herothio. He expressed his ire in a thunderous grumble. “You know Priestess Luper would marry you, if you would clean up a little,” I added in a low voice.

“Arathea will hear you!” Herothio snapped. The golden-haired nymph came out of her room, and pretended not to see Herothio. Herothio gazed sadly after the retreating white-robed figure, and then flopped his hair out of his eyes, and stared at me.

“No,” I said. “Goodbye.”

“But you’re so good at talking to people,” Herothio urged.

“No,” I repeated, and fled.

People who genuinely dislike each other generally go out of their way to avoid being in the same place at the same time. People who “see” each other, and share a common vision of reality, occasionally look, to outsiders, as though they dislike each other, when, in reality, they have established a stable and fair exchange of emotional goods, time, and energy.

This exchange, if maintained over a period of months, falls pretty inevitably into physical bonding (see, kissing, and usually further intimacy).

The culmination of the mutual exchange of energy and emotions is, practically speaking, marriage.

Writing the love-hate relationship poorly reflects immaturity upon the writer, while a writer who sees within the energy exchange, and writes the internal dynamic of the two characters, gains credibility and reputation with the reader.