Hey, everyone! Sorry I’ve not posted in a while, been busy with uni work and all that drama. This week’s blog is about the different types of relationships we ought to learn about. It’s a topic which I have quite strong feelings on and have debated with a lot of my peers about it. I hope y’all enjoy it! If you want to say anything I missed that you though I should’ve said, then all comments are greatly welcomed 😊
From a very, very, very young age, we are bombarded with images of the perfect family which many of us know as the “nuclear family”. We are shown what we need to look for in a partner and the order of events in which to live out your romantic life – dating, marriage, kids, blissfully grow old together as you sit on your front sipping sweet tea together. Correct? This post is going to tackle how we should learn about romantic and sexual relationships.
I follow a lot of gay couples on Instagram. From YouTuber couples to fetish players, the list of relationship types is endless. Growing up, television shows and films portray something different – romantic perfection in which boy meets girl, they get together, may have a few problems, but eventually solve them and continue living happily. What they fail to include is that relationships are insanely more complicated than that. Within partnerships, we all encounter lust, jealousy, drama, anger, commitment, etc, etc… A concept called “emotional first aid”1 discusses how we can be equipped for these emotions like failure, rejection and loneliness. The theory discusses psychological injuries as they are physical injuries, but the theory itself is transferrable to relationships. It’s all well and good understanding the ins and out of sex (literally), but without the context of relationships (whether sexual, romantic, or otherwise), it can kind of be a bit pointless. I believe it is the responsibility of schools to include basic knowledge of a wide range of relationships in sex education classes.
Another concept which I think needs addressing is open relationships. Too many of us dismiss the idea of being in an open relationship immediately because “if you can’t have sex with only one person for the rest of your life, then you don’t understand loyalty.” I’m certain the majority of us who have been in relationships have looked at someone else and lusted for something more sexually. Humans being in monogamous relationships has only been a societal norm for the past few centuries. Before that, it was completely normal (for men mostly) to have more than one partner while you were in a relationship or marriage2. So what changed? In my opinion, jealousy is the single biggest killer of relationships because if our partner wants to include or sleep with someone else, then we must not be good enough. Self-esteem is a massive problem in the age of social media which is the precursor to jealous tendencies in relationships.
Now I understand that polygamy (being in a single relationship but with multiple sexual partners – whether carried out through threesomes, groups, or separately) may not be for everyone. However, statistics prove that so many of us are not happy with our one lifelong soulmate. No matter how brilliant they are. The Independent recently reported that Denmark has the highest rates of infidelity in Europe with 46% of married citizens admitting to having cheated and 45% in Italy and Germany. A little closer to home, the United Kingdom had a rating of 36%3. The statistics of cheating in pre-marriage relationships can only be presumed to be higher. Polygamy and polyamory (multiple romantic partners) are not signs of emotional immaturity or unavailability. In fact, they are symbolic that some people can look past low self-esteem and jealousy which can be detrimental to romance.
I do think open relationships work great for me and so many other people. Monogamy also works for a lot of people too. I also believe cheating is a horrible thing to do. I’m raising these issues because it’s true that so many people don’t understand how a variety of natural and human relationships work. More and more people are straying away from traditional relationships. To learn about the difference between purely sexual partnerships, romantic relationships, and everything in between would have been mind-blowing growing up. LGBT relationships are barely discussed in sex ed classes, and these topics are most likely discussed even less. We need to stop thinking that kids are too immature and vulnerable to learn about these sorts of ideas. I really wish someone would have spoken to me about the different types of relationships we might encounter. Even if we do not act within the realm of polygamy or polyamory, learning about them teaches everyone else to be respectful of our decisions so we can all be happy in what we’re looking for.
- Winch, Guy. Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts. New York City, Plume Books: 2014.
- Henrich Joseph, Robert Boyd and Peter J. Richerson. “The Puzzle of Monogamous Marraige”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 367, no. 1589 (2012): 657-69.