Most of us are forced to take Sex Education classes, but we actually learn the mechanics of sex ‘out there’, in the day of the Internet.
But how many of us are TOTALLY UNPREPARED for the challenges of RELATIONSHIPS. In fact, we fall into the trap of thinking that knowing the anatomy of sex DOES somehow give us knowledge about human relationships, and that is absolutely NOT TRUE.
Just take the example of a friend of mine who went through a long, painful divorce. Among other sleazy moves, his wife invented out of thin air allegations of abuse of the children by him.
Now, I knew that divorce atttorneys coach women to make up such allegations to gain an advantage in negotiations, since guys are mostly seen as guilty without any proof in our court system.
But most of us don’t get relationship PRACTICE. Things like this come at us out of the blue..hopefully, they don’t happen a second time! My friend is still in shock about it. He has limited visitation rights regarding his kids as a result, and I’m not sure he will ever get over this. IN fact, HE was the one who wanted children; he was older, his wife only reluctantly agreed to have kids with him.
Or, this example: An old friend got sudden promotion at her job, and is now an executive. She immediately cut off all contact not only with her former work friends and colleagues–no, she’s also adopted a whole new persona with even people not connected in any way with her job.
Now she speaks in sort of a rehearsed, declamatory way. She is judgmental about not only what happens currently, but even what happened years ago. She insists on revisiting and rehashing minor past disagreements and makes them into such major issues that she will (and likely wants to) lose out of her PERSONAL friends from her earlier, lower-status days.
While I could help my friend through his divorce, I’ve NEVER seen the like of this latter scenario, and have no idea how to address the situation, really none. I’ve even asked about it on this site.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS
Few relationships are really unique. Our common social conditions puts tight restrictions on the range of emotions and experiences we have in any given society.
There are, therefore, PATTERNS that most of us can see in relationships. It’s how we answer questions on this site, for example! We don’t KNOW the people involved, but we see patterns in their narrative that lead us to predict what may happen and then try to guide them to the right conclusions.
Most of us have difficulty because we encounter a problem we haven’t had to face before. My friend, above, hopefully won’t go through another divorce. I don’t expect to have to deal with another friend who changes their personality completely because of their work position.
But someone with experience in relationship counseling could certainly organize relationships by a dozen or maybe two dozen themes, much like the categories we have here. Dating, Family and Friends, Break-up–all these social constructs feature patterns that a lot of us can see. SOME behavior (don’t say I said ALL) can be PREDICTED based on those patterns. Certainly my friend’s divorce experience is a fairly predictable common situation these days. My other promoted friend, maybe less so, but someone with a background in counseling could probably place my experience into the context of a behavior pattern.
In daily life, we refer to those patterns constantly. Rebound, shy guy, player..these are relationship patterns we refer to with a certain shorthand.
Why not require a course in modern relationships, starting at middle school age, but continuing to be refined into adulthood?
I think the benefits for society as a whole would be huge. Instead of trying to ‘wing it’ on one’s own, people who have a reference to consult, and at least basic understanding of the most common relationship trends and patterns.