Stakeholders in love
It takes two to tango, and three’s a crowd, as the famous love quotes say. But is a thought ever spared for the other people in the party who are bothered by your twerking, or for the patient driver (usually your dad) who resignedly waits for you until you’re ready to go home?
A romance is ultimately more than just the story of two people in love. It is also the story of the parents who may or may not have given their blessing (if they were even aware of the relationship, in the first place); the friends who have to divert hours of their lives from doing something important just to listen to your stories of heartbreak or courtship; the classmates or coworkers who have to put up with your post-friendzone depression; and possibly even the neighbors who lose sleep because of your ear-shattering love song marathon. All of these people are affected by your actions in your pursuit of that legendary first (or first for this week) kiss, and it is only right that you at least consider if you’re being fair to them.
One of the most poignant lessons I learned in school was about the stakeholder theory. In business, there are internal and external groups called stakeholders which can become factors that affect or are affected by your organization, and whose interests must be given due regard. Simply put, whatever your organization does affects a lot of people, and you’d do well to keep their interests in mind. We can apply this line of thinking to our personal lives. Whatever you do matters to people other than yourself, and you can’t just ignore what those others say. It is obvious then that even in your personal love life, there are stakeholders to think about.
I would even hazard a guess that a successful romantic relationship is impossible without coordinating with these stakeholders. I fondly recall a time during one summer break when I visited a friend’s house every other day. No, we weren’t playing video games or having discussions in geopolitics. Rather, I spent the day helping my friend think of tactful chat responses to his overly clingy girlfriend.
Fact of the matter is, there are things that you cannot tell a lover that you can readily confide in a friend, whether these be humiliating secrets, hidden dissatisfactions, or long-suppressed complaints. These concerns need an outlet, hence the need for the opinion of an outsider, a friend, or a support group that helps you stabilize the relationship from your end. There are many concerns that go beyond the capabilities of two lovers, requiring the expertise of support groups, or every other person who cares about you. These support groups are critical stakeholders because they do impact and are affected by your romance. It would be in your best interest to keep and maintain your relationship with these stakeholders. But that does not include calling them every other night just to give them a two-hour rendition of how you think she wants to go steady because she sort of smiled at your joke the other day.
In considering a romance, one should never adopt an insular way of thinking. It’s never “us against the world” because there are frankly a lot more people who are concerned about your wellbeing. Spare a thought for those classmates who genuinely worry about your date-related tardiness, for those friends who skip work to be your personal heartbreak psychiatrists, and for those parents who stoically foot the Valentine’s Day dinner bill.
What have you done for them in return? How did you express your gratitude? Are you likely to do the same for them?
It’s less a matter of people-pleasing than it is being a decent child/friend/student/person. You still have your relationships with other people to balance, and being too love-struck to consider how the other people in your life regard your romantic antics is plain selfish. Remember that love goes both ways: the love you give, and the love you receive. And more importantly, remember that the love you receive comes from more than just your love interest.
Mikkhail O. Guioguio, 22, works as a professional assistant. “Like many [other] people, my relationship status is complicated,” he says.
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