It occurred to me that these days the word ‘relationship’ is mainly used to refer to an intimate, romantic or sexual relationship and I wanted to find out whether that had always been this way. When I looked it up, I found that before 1944 this had not been the case and it made me wonder how they got to the exactness of that date?
I also learnt that the word ‘relationship’ comes from the Latin ‘referre’, to bring back.
‘Relationship’ standing for a one-on-one and mainly intimate relationship reminds me of the word ‘drinking’ which, in its modern-day usage, refers to drinking alcohol. When someone says they have stopped drinking, we all know that they are not referring to water, tea, juice or any other of the possible options. Drinking has become synonymous with drinking alcohol.
Likewise, a relationship now denotes a degree of closeness as indicated above, meaning it is either romantic, intimate and/or sexual. But don’t we have relationships with many people, and many things/objects even?
I certainly have a relationship with the people I share my house with; I have a wonderful relationship with my butcher up the road, one that is built on trust and my love and respect for his amazing dexterity, the awesome service, his skills and forever willingness to engage and explain and advise. Nothing is ever too much for him and his staff and I get the same treatment whether I spend $15 or $85.
I also have a relationship with a lady at the local market; together with her son they grow the most wonderful vegetables. There are times during the summer months when I don’t buy from them as what they grow is not what I eat but come the colder months, I stock up big time. We always have a chat, whether I happen to be buying or not.
I remember a conversation with a taxi driver in Sydney – just a short trip to the airport but when I asked him about his country of origin he completely opened up and I learnt more about Afghanistan and the war that was being waged there than any newspaper or other media outlet had ever reported.
Relationships: don’t people have them with their soccer club, with a singer or movie star they admire, with their favourite brand whether that be their beer, a label or favourite sports gear?
What makes us assume that a connection only deserves to be called a relationship when it is intimate, romantic or sexual?
Is it a fact that we are in relationship with many, many people and many things – not only every day, but every minute of the day?
And how supportive are then our relationships? And if they are not, what is our responsibility here? Have we allowed familiarity to creep in, a certain fatigue and boredom? And if so, have we not deserved better and more?
And on a final note – as to our relationships with people, what do we feel when hearing that the root meaning of the word ‘relationship’ is ‘to bring back’? Could this meaning have something to do with the fact that deep down we know that, when it is all said and done, all our relationships need to come back to the truth that we are all one?
By Gabriele Conrad, Goonellabah, NSW