Picture an imaginary world consisting of three characters.
The Cat eschews attention and would rather be left alone to do his thing. He loves his corner of the house. When someone returns home, he preens, meows, steals a glance, and goes back to cleaning himself.
When provoked, the Cat brushes it off stoically. The Cat avoids conflict and would sulk in a corner. Cats must be given a free reign. They will slip in and out of the cat trap door at their whim and fancy.
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The Dog is the anti-thesis of the Cat. Dogs yearn for attention and affection. When someone returns home, the Dog would bark and wag his tail because he is genuinely excited. When they do not get the affection they yearn for, they feel unloved. Dogs must be brought for walks. They thrive on time spent together.
The third character is the Master. The Master exist only for one reason – to provide. The Master knows that his pets cannot or will not think for themselves and hence he is always there to watch their backs. He plans and thinks ahead for them.
He derives his pleasure from ensuring that his pets are warm and well fed and gets frustrated when things do not turn out the way he wants. He wants nothing but the very best for them.
We live in this imaginary world, every single one of us. To understand what I mean, transplant the Cat-Dog-Master characters to the romantic relationship of the people around you.
I had a friend who just recently got married. He is the ultimate caregiver any girl could ask for. He plans, executes and puts his wife on the highest pedestal in everything they do. He derives his joy from giving. He is a good manifestation of the Master.
And to his good fortune, his wife appreciates the care and concern. Wife reciprocates by going along with his wishes. She would defer decisions to him, consult him and seek his opinion. She would be expressive and supportive. She would be there to ‘sayang’ him after a long hard day. She plays the role of a Dog very well.
A Master-Dog pairing is rather ideal, one takes pleasure in giving while the other enjoys receiving. There is balance and harmony.
Things are not always so rosy though. I also know of a chap sometime back who is Master at heart. Like all good Masters he wants to plan and ensure that the other party is well provided for and well taken care of. Unfortunately the lady he is with turns out to be a Cat.
After a while she starts to reject the attention. To her, the demands are overbearing. She does not want to be accountable. She wants to be independent. She does not need someone to constantly watch over her. She feels stifled in the relationship. They break up eventually.
And I also know of another couple from school. Both of them are rather headstrong planners – Masters at their core. The relationship resembles a power play in which they spent a lot of their time trying to get their way. Not in a bad sense, but because they firmly believe that it is in the best interest of the relationship. It wasn’t a pretty sight at times.
Which ones work and which ones do not
To put things into perspective, Master-Dog parings are rather common and they work out pretty well. Cat-Cat couples have their own synergies. By giving each other the space they require, these partnerships tend to flourish.
Master-Cats are a mismatch. One feels stifled while the other feels unappreciated, and unless they can find a way to communicate and work around the harsh feelings, it is a difficult relationship to upkeep.
Master-Master relationships could be stormy at times and Dog-Dog pairs tend to live in their own world, often blissfully unaware of the rest of the world out there.
I know some of you would argue and insist that you can be all three in different situations. Fair enough. You could.
Remember though, The operative word here is dominant. There is never an absolute charateristic. A Cat will react in a Mastery manner if the situation calls for it. But it is not the preferred reaction. Over time we will revert to our preferred.
Look at the couples around you. Can you identify the pairings? Based on the descriptions, does it surprise you why some couples do better than others? If you are single and on the lookout, would identifying your own archetype enable you to make a more informed choice of life partner?
To give credit when credit is due, my wife was the one who came up with this idea five years ago when we were having one of those deep conversations during our travels.
We have shared this with family and friends and many have found it rather interesting and applicable. Many a couple, old and new have seen themselves in it and have had a good laugh over it.
Cats, Dogs, Masters and Money
This being an investment and personal finance portal, let me at least leave you with a thought regarding money.
I realized for the first time recently that we are also in a perpetual relationship with money. Like an interesting date and a loving spouse, we are constantly engaging money. We react to it and it reacts back. And as in all forms of relationships, the Cat-Dog-Master theory applies elegantly.
Ask yourself this. What is your relationship with money? Are you a Master who plans and executes and prefers to remain in total control? Or a Cat who is oblivious and blasé towards your financial situation. Perhaps you are a Dog who yearns for the love and all the pretty things that money can bring about.
Just as the Cat Dog Master illustration can allow people to be more aware of themselves and improve their romantic relationships, it potentially can also help investors be more aware of their mindsets and attitudes towards money. I shall dig deeper and share more in time to come.