Fair trade

The problem in relationships is not that you give to much or take too much. The problem in relationships is when you give something that costs you more than it’s worth to the other person and you demand something that means less to you than it means to the other person. Really, REALLY think about it and you will find it hard to disagree.

This is a well formed and very well considered statement of fact.

In my marriage, there was one major thing that I felt was lacking. The thing I wanted most out of a relationship is to be number one in someone’s heart. Growing up, I learned what that meant. It means that no one will ever be chosen before you. I am first in my mothers heart. So are my sisters. We are all first, because my mother will kill herself if she tries choosing among us. She will take her niece on a trip around the planet before choosing to take only one of us, because that choice is not possible to her. She did. Literally. This is what I want in a relationship. I want to be first and I am okay being tied for first.

My wife wanted stuff. Perhaps I’m an idiot. Perhaps I’m a jerk. The one thing I offered her above everything else was what I most wanted. I lived in sheer misery for a few years because I couldn’t choose her over my family or my family over her. Eventually everyone came around and things started clicking and I thought it was great. I felt like I was giving her the world because nothing could have ever been more important to me.

The problem is that this is not what she wanted most out of a relationship. I don’t know that I ever understood what it was she wanted out of a relationship. Now as I explore relationships, I feel the need to ask very directly and brutishly what you want and what you’re offering. I mean, romantic relationships are nothing more than elaborate business arrangements on commodities that we have a terrible ability to appraise. I’m not talking about sex. There are millions of people who can put a price tag on an orgasm and who are more than willing to collect on it. I am talking about love in all its forms.

Today, I am going to put it out there with a lovely lady. I am going to tell her what I am looking for in a relationship in terms she’s probably never heard and probably never wanted to hear. I am going to propose the creation of a true business relationship that I would like to establish to mutual benefit. I am going to tell her what I want. I am going to tell her what I am offering. I am going to tell her that it’s probably not worth it for her. I am going to ask her to consider it because I really don’t know if what I am offering is worth more to her than It would be for me.

That is the magic that the universe has been trying to teach me. I can explain it in very simple terms, but following through with it is difficult. Here it is in very simple terms:

Capitalism is when ownership(control) of the means of production is in the hands of the producers of goods(value) and the products of the capital are exchanged freely between the producers of the goods to mutual advantage, thereby increasing the overall value of the system.

The base capital that humans possess is time. When I can offer you my time or the results of what I’ve done with my time and it is worth more to you than it is to me and you offer me your time or the results of your time and it is worth more to me than it is to you, we have both gotten a bargain. The world is a genuinely better place. This is simple economics. When I create something from $4 worth of material and give you something that is worth $10 to you, I have “made” $6. If my time was only worth $2 there is $4 of REAL profit for everyone.  If I charge you $9 I get 4 dollars of real profit and you get $1.  If I charge you $10 I may get all the immediate profit, but you get the convenience or whatever other value you have chosen to trade for.  It is a beautiful and wonderful thing.

The value in this exchange is not based on fairness, because both parties are benefiting more than they can understand the other person to be benefiting. This is the essence of all human interaction. The value in this exchange is based on freedom. If both parties can walk away with something they value more than what they brought to the table, the world is a better place. If we can agree to sit at the table with honesty and openness, we can make a deal or walk away and no one should feel hurt.

So dear, dear woman, what I am looking for is:

What I am offering is:

If we can reach this agreement I will be happy that I am getting a bargain. If you feel the same way, or if you want to negotiate and tell me what I have that is of true value to you, perhaps we can agree to something. If not, let us shake hands and wish each other the best in finding someone else who offers more value.

I wish I had had this conversation with my ex-wife before we got serious. It hurts that we’re not really friends now, but, to be absolutely honest, it is really hard to fight the urge to take care of her. It really breaks my heart that we did take care of each other so much, but we each offered the pieces of ourselves that we thought were the best instead of the pieces the other person thought were the best. I hope not to make that mistake in the future and I hope to one day break that habit with my ex-wife and one day be real friends again.

Right now, it’s like one of the stars in the night sky is eclipsed. So easy to forget sometimes and so painful to consider when you notice it. Yet I know that the way we revolve around one another when we get too close is really some sort of terrifying death spiral. Maybe one day.


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