Relationship, friendship, partnership... So many of the -ships can be so fraught with so many expectations and implicit (or explicit) demands, wouldn't you agree? Simple acquaintanceship is the first level for any sort of bond, and I've always been fond of playing with the idea of the point at which it becomes something more. But acquaintanceship itself is more than anything a product of modern human life and the anonymity that comes with overpopulation. When we, as early humans, were functioning at the tribal level, we would have been intimately tied to our fellow tribal members from birth.
Something a lover said recently prompted me to think about how ridiculously broad the term friendship can be. I turned to my trusty Internet search engine to see what more orderly thinkers than I might have come up with. Let's consider, then, contemporary Internet wisdom on friendship. It would seem that we are to visualize a three-point scale: something akin to casual friend followed by steady or good friend and topped by dear or best friend. I suppose a similar scale could be applied to lovers. The casual lover, the steady lover, the dear love. Shall we call these, then, sexualships? I have casual sexualships with various men, but good, steady sexualships become rather more tricky, don't they?
Sigh. What a hierarchy of -ships we've created; there seems to be no end to our scales and rules. But despite it, we're always searching for more terms. "Significant other", "longtime companion",
"compañero". And then the sadly sexist terms of bygone years: "better half" or, the worst of all, "ball and chain". After all this, I think I want to forget about the term relationship entirely!
Partnership is the only -ship that is flexible and broad enough to interest me. Its root is the Latin partitio (portion), by which we are to understand a shared endeavor. It applies as well to how ancient humans functioned in tribes as it does to a business endeavor or to my relationship with the mother of my goddaughter. And what is a partner to me? That person's gender matters not, nor whether we are sleeping together, and certainly not whether one of us has said those three silly words that seem to cause so much grief in our modern world. [I'm referring to "I love you."] My dear ones are my partners. Their woes are my woes. Their joys are my joys. Their homes are my home. And my home and woes and joys are just as much, always and eternally, theirs, no matter how much time and space may separate us.
In contrast, those of you poor souls whose mothers never taught you how to share will soon enough be asked to disembark from the Good Ship Katchita. Because this skipper's seen more than enough *ship*wrecks in her career sailing the high seas.