Both conditional terms and unconditional terms exist in a relationship. There’s no perfection and it’s only human nature.
I wanted to write about this because I think it’s evident in Asian societies (and Singapore is the one I’m living in currently). There’s a lot to be said about ‘Guan Xi’ and how traditional Eastern societies like Singapore go about business and relationships.
What Are Conditional Relationships?
Conditions in a Relationship Do Exist, It’s Normal
Conditions in relationships do exist and it’s normal.
You’re only at your boss’s office because he’s paying you a monthly salary to get things done. You’re only approaching and hitting on a girl because she’s hot and takes care of herself. That’s a condition, right? Conditions at the end of the day are necessary when forming relationships, it’s human nature and it’s OKAY.
I don’t want to get into a philosophical debates about alturism and human nature, but you get my point.
However, Conditions Can’t be the Only Value That Keeps the Relationship Together
However, conditions cannot be the only reasons why a relationship exist in the first place. Purely, conditional relationships eventually fucks everybody up because the relationships at the end of the day are seen as an economic trade, rather than a mutual expression of affection, support, and empathy.
- I enjoy being around financially driven and successful people, however, that’s not the only value that’s holding the relationship together.
- I enjoy pursuing girls that are physically attractive, however, that’s not the only value that I’m looking for. If acts all sassy rude behaviour when I approach her, I would not stand for it. Would you? If a girl has poor personality and has poor behavior, would you stand for it just to be with her because of her physical appearance?
Conditionality and Unconditionality with Dating and Relationships
In ex-dating coach Mark Manson’s book Models, he emphasized the need to express our thoughts are desire unconditionally, with honesty, without expecting anything in return. It’s also thought to be an attractive behaviour to women.
However, he also said that, honesty at times as well, is also negative and brutal. I also realized that this value and principle can be and should be across all friendships and relationships.
Unconditional relationships are also the formed on the bedrock of strong boundaries. Telling someone they aren’t willing to hear (but it’s true to you) is unconditionally loving that someone.
- Imagine going out with a girl that you’re interested in and she shows up 2 hours late for your date and doesn’t apologise. What would you do? Having strong boundaries is being willing to call her out on her bullshit and telling her that’s not an acceptable behavior in your life.
This shows you’re willing to piss her off and lose the date even if she’s hot or pretty. It’s unconditional.
This is why having objectified metrics in one’s social and dating life will be detrimental to one’s emotional health in the long run. Pursuing relationships for the sake of chasing social status, economical means, and other objectified/external metrics in life. These are conditional relationships.
There won’t be any meaning or significance to your emotional lives.
Conditionality and Unconditionality with Friendship
There are important questions to ask about your current friendships.
When you’re pursuing a new hobby, talking about interesting ideas, do your friends support you, or do you have a gut feel that they’re jealous of you deep inside?
Unconditional friendships means that they’ll continue to respect and support you for your ideas and pursuits even if it differs from their values and beliefs.
Unconditional friendship also means that you’re able to say and hear no from each other.
- If you were with your best friend, and he bullied a random stranger and is clearly in the wrong, would you stand with him in his bullying, or would you help the bullied?
I would stop my friend, despite knowing him for years, that’s because I’m against bullying, it’s my value, and him despite my friend, I’m going tell him that I won’t accept it.
Conditionality and Unconditionality with Parents
I used to go on angry rants about relationships with my parents and how I was brought up and how they fucked up. I was dealing with a lot of hurt at that point of time. Someone told me this: it’s just the way it is, shut up and move on.
I disagree, I think there are questions (no matter how painful) that needs to be asked.
It’s’s a cultural norm for Asians in their respective cultures to put their parents or society’s wants and desires before their own. People get into jobs, careers, and other pursuits just to please their parents.
However, if you’re afraid that your parents might be pissed off that you’re changing careers or jobs, then there isn’t a genuine relationship going on there with you and your parents.
Taking from some of the issues I faced growing up:
- If you disagree with Mum or Dad, will they still sponsor your studies/ give you allowance/ support you in your ambitions?
- If you stopped doing the things Mum or Dad wanted you to do, will they still care for you/ communicate with you/ show you support?
- If you stopped doing what Mum or Dad wants you to do as a profession, would they still show the care and affection for you?
Many of us grew up in an environment where if they didn’t get good grades in school or took a course that their parents wanted, sometimes affection, care, and even financial means is withdrawn from them. These issues caused me a lot of problems financially and emotionally growing up.
These are tough questions to ask. But nevertheless necessary. When I started asking these real questions.
It pains me to the point that I wanted to hold my Dad by his collar and tearfully strangle it.
Conditional Relationships in Business: The Problem When Everything is about ‘Business’
A short stint at my Uncle’s construction company opened my eyes up to Guan Xi, and how they play a role in Asian societies. It also got me bummed out. I attempted to do things the “clean way” or Westernized way, which was met by much resistance from business partners, clients and etc.
It was an interesting experience nonethless. I got insight about how traditional businessmen view their relationships. It got me redefining my relationships values at one point, because of the mess and the mind games that were involved in business transactions.
In the book Asian Godfathers, written by Joe Studwell, he touches on the topic of Guan Xi of billionaires in Singapore, and the rest of South East Asian countries where wealth is accumulated through monopolies, cartels and etc.
He argued that the majority of billionaires in South East Asia made their wealth through land ownership, real estate, monopolies and cartels, rather than building a competitive service or company. This is often accomplished through government licensing. Joe Studwell also wrote that these billionaires often have no social life. Their lenses of the world are strictly business and economical.
It’s saying: I’m only hanging out with you/ listening to you/ doing what I’m doing because you have the ability to advance my business opportunities further.
This is a lack of boundaries: only seeing relationships as an economical tool is ultimately a conditional relationship.
The point is isn’t strictly business or commercial relationships. It’s treating everyone as a human being, and see them as integrated human beings.
This is something that I feel Asian societies have a problem with.
Guan Xi and Business, and Relationships
Business has to be separated from relationships. Values that hold a relationship together should not be solely monetary or status.
I learned this the hard way whilst working for my Uncle’s company.
He often used his network (read: relationships) as something he has an edge against others. He also led the company thorugh fear, rather than leadership. I know that fear and authority has it’s place. However, through fear of ‘offending someone’, his employees are always in fear of speaking up to him that would help in company’s system.
How to Solve These Problems Then?
You know how they say you’re conditioned to the relationships you’re used to?
This is why some of us got into the pick up artist industry in the first place. To get better relationships.
Our crappy relationships from our parents and friends sometimes translate into our personal life. If we were used to crappy relationships, and finally, when you’re forced to put new values and habits into place, and your priorities are shifted around, all of might blow up in your face.
First off, you’ll have to iron out your boundaries and values in your relationships: What are you going to accept and what are you not going to accept in your own behaviour and your friends/ girlfriend/ parents behaviour in the future? How are you going to communicate it to them?
Defining your boundaries and values means rocking a few boats in your life. Defining boundaries means both being able to say and hear no to the people around you. It might mean doing some things that might piss the people (or everyone) around you.
It means being willing to tell your Dad or your Mum how fucked of a parent you feel they are: something you’ve held back for 20 years of your life. It means being willing to tell your best friend how selfish of a bastard he is at times.
Despite all of these hurt, pain, anger and sadness that might come a long with these confrontations.
These behaviours are ironically, unconditional. And that’s how better relationships are formed.