Red light, green light in relationship

There are few spaces outside of relationships that this phrase is used with the degree of passion that it is used when describing a conflict with a loved one.

Published: 21st November 2023 07:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st November 2023 07:59 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

BENGALURU: Session two of Squid Game is coming up on OTT any time now. When the first season came up a couple of years ago, it really made entertainment news for a while because of how it took a great number of seemingly innocent childhood games and made them deadly games – literally games of life and death.

 It started with the simple red light-green light game, with death coming to those who moved at red light, instead of just being out for the turn. We in India play a version of  similar “Statue” games all over the country. The shock of how something so innocuous as this game becomes deadly serious, and how everyone adapts to their new reality is the premise of the whole show.

That said, you might ask what it has to see with love or relationships. 

Loveology Mahesh Natarajan

It is simply this: when you get into a relationship with someone, you enter into it with an assumption of what the rules of the game will be, based on your own understanding of the world, from what you have experienced and lived through. Now, if your partner reacts with vehemence or even violence, that’s going to be quite the shock. What you expected might lead to a happy repartee at best, some giggles and laughs, or a slap on the wrist, if it turns vicious, and threatening and gets very, very serious all of a sudden, it is going to be a massive challenge.

In so many Indian languages we have the colourful phrase equivalent to, “bite my head off.” Though we say it in English, it really is only a rough equivalent of our native phrases about having our head eaten, given that England’s shores never had a predator that could literally eat one’s head. There are few spaces outside of relationships where this phrase is used with the degree of passion that it is used when describing a conflict with a loved one.

If we didn’t want our head bitten off, and couldn’t predict what tigers lurk in the high grasses of one’s relationship, we would certainly appreciate early warning. We want the tiger to roar before it pounces, and more to the point, we make a fair bit of noise before approaching any area a tiger might be in. We don’t want a red-light-green light game, not when there is massive hurt possible. We want an amber light in between. Some time to quickly get to a comfortable safety, where we aren’t caught out in an awkward, difficult-to-maintain stance. 

In relationships, this amber light situation is so important. Checking if the coast is clear, making intentions loud and clear, and being ready to stop and retreat – all of it is super important when we are approaching any area of possible conflict. We cannot hurtle through intersections of thoughts, values and beliefs, especially in spaces where we know there have been incidents in the past, without stopping to check - otherwise, we are going to have our heads bitten off.

Everything is fun and games till someone gets hurt.

(The writers’ views are their own)

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