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The power games people play in relationships

Differences in salaries, popularity, social image, educational qualification and class structures can turn your sweet romance sour.

sex and relationships Updated: Apr 13, 2019 18:44 IST
Ahana Datta Chaudhury
Ahana Datta Chaudhury
Hindustan Times, Delhi
power games,power play,patriarchy
Differences in salaries, popularity, social image, educational qualification and class structures can turn your sweet romance sour.(Unsplash)

Nobody wants to be in a toxic relationship. For a healthy and fulfilling relationship, it’s essential that both partners should be in balance. They should be able to contribute and share their thoughts, opinions and feelings equally and without any fear. But mostly, apart from individual differences like financial capacity, popularity, looks, social status, a major cause of power imbalance is existence of societal structures or what we call societal expectations and sanctions, on the basis of gender. Also, due to patriarchy, the politics of power play has been tilted towards men.

Eeshani Chakraverty, psychotherapist, says, “Power imbalance has been ingrained in our society for ages. In fact, it is present in most relationships. It’s coming to the forefront now, only because there is a stir in the way power is perceived. With the slow movement of men and women towards equality, the power structure is being challenged; erstwhile normative narratives are being questioned. Of course, this is only true of urban spaces. In rural areas, there is still a wide power gap.”

Financial Situation

It is widely believed money is a huge factor in deciding power in all kinds of relationships. If it were as simple, the financial independence of women should have lessened the existing imbalance. This often does not happen if the societal structures governed by patriarchy are not addressed. “It is true that financial empowerment has made the relationships more equal. Yet in many ways, it has caused complications.

If the partner earns more, there are chances of more ego clashes,” says Dr Harish Shetty, psychiatrist.

Social Life

Insecurity can also crop up due to popularity and physical appearance. Good looks or a better social life can add to the insecurities and take a toll on relationships. If two people, who come from different castes, are in a relationship, there are chances of power play due to the societal positioning of caste and hegemony.

Religion and Caste

Religious, political values and beliefs are also dominant factors of power imbalances. “People with different political views can have issues. And the one who is more dominant in the relationship can force the other to alter his or her opinions,” Shetty adds.

Other Factors

Among the other factors, even sexual preferences and forced physical intimacy without consent adds to the imbalance of power. Shetty says, “Power equations have different origins. Caste, race, narcissistic personalities, financial status, inflated sense of self esteem and political inclination are some reasons.”

It might seem funny, but the one who is physically weaker in a relationship always stands the risk of being harmed. In most cases, women are subjected to physical violence and harassment because of the fact that most men are more physically stronger.

“A lot of the power imbalance issues in modern relationships depend on the personality of the person and how resilient you are from within,” says Desire Dias, counselling psychologist. If you are the more attractive person in the couple, you must try and play down others’ comments or compliments about your appearance when you’re with your partner. If someone tries to flirt with you in front of your partner, you should be clear about your disinterest and assert your relationship status with your partner.

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First Published: Apr 13, 2019 18:44 IST