Mike’s English word of the week – Relationship

This week’s English word of the week is Relationship.

My god. Have I seriously taken this word on head to head to try and tame it to produce an article?

Yes I have. I’m determined to beat this tough word down to wind its neck in and give me some answers as to what it’s all about!

Let’s start with Facebook. Now I don’t have an account myself but I know that these days it seems the official stamp to show you are “with” someone, or not as the case maybe, is to have your “relationship status” selected as one of the following…


I will be controversial here. But for me it seems we live in a land where we actually care more about what others think, take on pressure to let the world know what we are up to…and feel perfectly comfortable to try and fit our relationship, a perfectly unique relationship, between us and a certain number of people into a tick box category.

Where is our sense of individuality?

Did we forget we need a private life to enable us to have more control over it?

Do we really understand so little about the word relationship that we feel we can categorise it?

And before it drives you crazy..yes…yes I did say a relationship between a certain number of people. Whether there is indeed a third person involved, or children, a pet, or a business etc, you can take my point that a relationship that looks on the surface to exist only between two people, can in the grander scheme of things have many more parties involved.

Right now I’m in a relationship with my phone. I’m using it to type this article. We have only been together for two months, and who knows when it will come to an end. A relationship of reliance and convenience then.

I have a relationship with my car. I’ve had it for over 8 years. For me it’s like a mechanical pet. Maybe it’s love. (More details on the chimp soon!)


I had a brief relationship with a bottle of bleach when I cleaned the toilet earlier. Call it a fling if you wish. I got what I wanted and didn’t have any after thoughts.

For those of you now who think I’ve gone off topic talking about material things and objects, I promise you I’m building up to a point.

And that is, for me, my definition of Relationship is simple. It’s a blanket label for a series of interactions…that have infinite perimeters.

The number of interactions could indicate the intensity (of the “relationship”).

The tone of interactions can determine the overall feel of the relationship. Toxic, positive, abusive, energising and so on.

Purpose of interactions…

Length of interactions…

Interaction from a distance? Or up close?

Interaction with any legal binding documents?

Interaction with any informal unwritten promises?

The moment we interact with someone, an object or a situation, we immediately fall into a relationship with the entity in question. Relationship being a general term to confirm there is some form of interaction going on.

The mistake I see us as humans making in this modern internet based world we live in is basic.

We think Relationship means something specifically and try and categorise it.

It doesn’t. It is actually up there in the top ten of the vaguest words ever in my opinion.

What we must look at is the effect of our interaction with the entity on our well being. The entity’s well being. And evaluate and take action. Doing what is best for us.

As soon as we try and label it, we are making our interactions fit into an existing framework that in reality means nothing. Not a thing.

Two people meet regularly for no strings attached encounters. Friends with benefits, to use a phrase for it.

“Oh we are not in a relationship.”

The above statement in reality means nothing.

Of course it’s a relationship. Because it is of course a series of interactions.

It’s just the interactions have boundaries, limits and purpose, completely unique to those involved.

“It’s complicated.”

I see this a lot on dating sites. Why label it as that? Isn’t every series of interactions capable of throwing up complications?

I recently wrote about the word Expectation. By default interactions create and limit expectations, and in turn can make or break them. I could therefore say that interactions are simply a set of expectations constantly changing in real time…

…backing up that it’s actually impossible to label, define or categorise a word that human life has got anything to do with. Relationship being one of them.

I used to think Relationship in the dating world had a rigid, defined meaning.

Then I grew up and the penny dropped. Relationship is a vague word. Almost a work of art as it has unlimited interpretations.

If I had a Facebook account I would need them to add the category “Solo” for me. Not that I would categorise my “relationship status” and keep up with modern day times, of course.

And for anyone who thinks the above is nonsense…let me off…I’m out of practice with the old relationship game…so what do I know?!

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