Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Relationship Dynamics the Offspring way.

Hey, and apologies in advance for the year 12 style literature analysis.

Actually, not sorry at all. I love getting all excited and analytical about this stuff. This is about the only stuff I overthink.

If you have read my blog for any length of time you will know that I am a die-hard Offspring fan.

Nikki over at Styling You workshops Nina's style every Thursday morning. It has a big following. And the fashion is one of the big drawcards of the show, along with the brilliant ensemble cast.

What I appreciate about the show, though, is its study in relationships.

Yes - Realistic portrayals of relationships and their nuances make very compelling viewing, and it is magic when people can relate to and connect with the characters. For instance, I never really appreciated Sex and the City until I started dating, and getting out and about a bit. That was a groundbreaking show, insofar as it broke apart the whole "virgin/whore" dichotomy that women were confined to in television prior to this. And there really are "men like that" out there. I could go on about this for a while.

But I digress.

Having had some experience of the ups and downs of relationships, I confess that I find some parts of Offspring especially poignant.

Foremost it reinforces a belief I have about the way we interact, and that is

The way your personality is expressed is very much affected by the people around you....

Yes, though we have an intrinsic personality style, the people that you interact with can bring out your very best, your very worst, and your most neurotic, and your most calm and caring. We are at our best when somebody listens to us, hears us, understands us and loves us fiercely for who we are.

Conversely, when people put us down, and this can be very insidious, we may try and suppress those bits of ourself that we are uncomfortable with, but they come tumbling out in an ungraceful manner, eventually.

This may seem all captain obvious but we can be very unaware of the way in which others can influence how we act.

Take Nina. Nina likes to talk. When Patrick gets all shut down, Nina talks more, and it gets very grating - I even had a text from a friend and fellow die-hard Offspringer during an ad break "Gee Nina is grating on me tonight". Sure, the awkwardness is expanded for dramatic effect, but I am sure we have all been there. She blabbers, she gets cut down, she feels bad, she tries not to do it again, but in doing so, she is denying the very essence of who she is.

I found the scene where Nina was seeing her therapist alone last night quite emotional, as it reminded me of a few sessions I have had with a very skilled therapist. (Though the therapist was not quite as fetching as the one here)

The therapist gave her a compliment, made her feel safe, made her feel good about herself. Nobody there to shut her down.

Nina lay down, relaxed, and said exactly what was on her mind, very clearly and very succinctly. It was an entirely reasonable and understandable thing she said.

Having been there myself, these are the useful times, the breakthrough times, and from there we can work on things.

When Nina is in the operating theatre or labour ward, sequestered from the nurses making biting comments, Nina is calm and in control.

Outside, a different story.

When Nina is with her family, or Billie, or sometimes Patrick, they make her feel like an idiot, then she goes and acts like one. Sound uncomfortably familiar?

Take also Billie. Billie has a heart of gold, but can be abrasive and say the wrong thing. Yet Mick seizes on Billie's traits "scary in a good way" and tells her he loves them. Sometimes in song. And whaddya know? Billie softens and starts acting normal, even nice. And that is great to watch. Billie's belief in Mick, and not so subtle nudges have turned Mick from laconic bartender/handyman/pub crooner into "the Justin Bieber of inner northern Melbourne".

They bring forth the best in each other.

And Geraldine. She was a lovely and supportive mother when she was with Darcy. With Philip? Not so much. Wine and pot with snarky remarks, anyone?

Who we are with can make all the difference to how we are as people.
To paraphrase what a friend once told me "keep company with people who bring forth your best".

It's a hard when your realise that your partner and/or family does not. As it is generally hard to make others change their behaviour, you then have to modify your own. You can make a decision to be kind and understanding, and hope that it propagates, but this can wear you down if it's not returned.

Or you can walk away. That's hard too.

As for Nina and Patrick - when he starts listening understandingly to her rambles, she might ramble a bit less. When she kindly says "ok, I can see you need some space now, I will be here when you need me", he might shut off a bit less. If Nina says to Billie with a loving glint in her eye "steady on tiger", Billie might just back off a little.

Nice that I have learned about how to negotiate a relationship. But sadly it doesn't make for good telly.


  1. Oh, I love this analysis, Cilla. It is really a good lesson in life - aim to hang out with the people who bring out the best in you and allow you to be who you really are.