Responsibility of the SO

By October 24, 2021Andromeda's Vortex

By Atty. Farah G. Decano


MENTAL calisthenics on ethical dilemmas – who has heard of this as a form of relaxation?  Well, this seems to be a favorite past time of three fiery intellectuals I know way back in the 1990s when we were merely wide-eyed young idealistic students in UP Diliman.  Twenty-five years later, these women grew older.  And wiser.  Two have become lawyers and the other, a top honcho in a leading universal bank.  Their impeccable track records reflect that they remain belligerently undone despite their immersion in the ugly realities of the world.

They may appear to have nothing else to do but, believe me, they are very busy women with immense pressure on their shoulders.  Probably mental calisthenics is one way for them to detoxify their minds of the noxiousness of their work, present political issues and the country’s Covid situation.

A few days ago, I had a vigorous exchange of Viber messages with these great female minds on the responsibility of SOs in the decisions arrived at by their romantic partners.  By SO, we speak of its millennial meaning  – Significant Other.   No, I am not referring to government Special Orders which are directives to travel, to attend conferences, or perform some tasks.

The most inquisitive of the three is a top gun of the School of Economics during our time in the university.   Like she was wont to do, she suddenly popped the following questions:  1) Should the SO feel any responsibility for consequences of the decisions of her/his romantic partner? and 2) Does SO’s responsibility over her/his partner’s decisions increase over time?

The honorable but fire-breathing lawyer dismissed the questions as an engagement in ugliness and a justification for blame game.  She said that feminist perspective demands that the romantic partner must be responsible solely for her/his decisions, regardless of the timeframe in the relationship.  While the latter may ask for advice or support from the SO, she/he, in the end, determines the courses of action to take.  The dragon among the three acquitted the SO of any culpability.   The key, she emphasized, is to always know yourself and to take accountability for your own actions.

The CPA lawyer agreed that the SOs should not feel responsible for the decisions of their romantic partners but only when they are still new in the relationship.   The accountant-advocate believes that, as time gives them more opportunity to know each other, the SOs must be able to provide better advice and course of action.  And that taking responsibility for her/his advice does not necessarily entitle the romantic partner to blame the SO even if the advice or course of action goes wrong.

The economist could not settle with the last musing.  She believes that any advice given by the SO, whether it turned out to be very bad or not, should be viewed in good faith.  The romantic partner should not attribute any fault to the SO and, instead, learn from the past and properly decide in the future.   In short, she concurred with the first lawyer.

My beliefs are totally in consonance with the second lawyer.  I think the SO should feel responsible for her/his lover’s decisions after some time in the relationship. For example, if a partner is   engaged in corruption, then the SO must make an effort to ensure that the former reforms.  To say that SO shall not have any accountability for the corruption of her/his partner is akin to the washing of hands by Pontius Pilate.   SOs must not at all feel guilt-free for any disaster that may have befallen upon the partner due to her/his advice or indifference.

After several hours of exchanges, only the following stipulations finally got a nihil obstat:  1) Each romantic partner should be responsible for her or his actions; 2) each partner must improve and learn from mistakes; and 3) Romantic partners should not blame each other for the consequences of any advice gone wrong.

This rumination with brilliant minds makes dementia remote. Mental calisthenics, anyone?

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