Everything, down to our lives’ paths have an expected route. We’re supposed to leave home, go to college, get a job and start a family. And it doesn’t end there. When we go to a party, there are a set of expectations. Is it a birthday party? Better bring a gift. A family member’s in the hospital? You better visit them. Rounding the corner on a certain age? Then marriage better be on the horizon.
Well, it turns out there are some pretty unhealthy social norms out there. Say marriage isn’t for you. Or that sick family member abused you for years. Then these pressures to conform stop being beneficial and become toxic. That’s why we all need to watch out for toxic social norms for our relationships.
Now don’t get alarmed, I’m not saying that you should stop with the physical affection. The problem is, expecting physical affection can be harmful to your relationship. It’s important to discuss with your partner the amount of physical contact you both enjoy. Otherwise, one person might feel rejected. Or the other person might feel uncomfortable for the sake of their partner. Both of these things can start fester in your relationship. So don’t let physical affection become an unhealthy social norm. It’s always okay to assert your boundaries. And remember if your partner is less cuddly than you, they’re probably showing their affections in other ways. What a great chance to find out more about them!
I know we’ve all learned by now that pink’s not only a “girl’s color.” But those aren’t the gender norms I’m talking about. It’s very common in relationships that we fall into traditional gender norms. This even holds true in same-sex relationships. Expectations and assumptions about the other are what makes this a toxic social norm for relationships. The expectation of one gender to always be ready to perform sexually. The expectation of the other gender to do all the housework. Whatever it is, it creates unfair pressure for either party in the relationship to behave a certain way. This eventually weighs that person down and if ignored comes out in a tidal wave of un-dealt with emotions.
There’s a lot of pressure to put on a good face. And it’s not just you that has to look good anymore. Your relationship does too. So we feel the need to say that everything is fine. Even when it isn’t. What makes this an unhealthy social norm is, the way it ignores the issues. Without confronting your partner about your feelings they will never know what you need. Remember mind reading isn’t possible no matter how connected you are to someone. Stop expecting it. I know we all want someone who can look at us and know exactly how we’re feeling. Personally admitting to being hurt is one of the hardest forms of communication for me. I’m caught between wanting to look strong, not wanting to hurt the other person, and feeling myself crumble inside. But I can tell you for sure, it always feels better to release that pain. And if your partner is a good one, they’ll take time to listen to you. Just remember nothing’s one-sided, you’ll have to consider their feelings too. If you need help check out tips for better arguing in “Strengthen Your Relationship in 2019.”
Men Don’t Have Emotions
This is basically a combination of the above two unhealthy social norms. It’s just a reminder that men are allowed to have feelings too. For men, it can be even harder to talk about feelings because society has told them not to. So remember to be patient with male partners. Give them space and encouragement to talk about their feelings. And guys, you don’t have to be tough all of the time.
Love Is All You Need
It’s the idea that love will solve everything. Besides the obvious flaws to this premise, it’s a toxic social norm for relationships because they need a lot more than love. If you want a simplified explanation on what relationships need bell hooks does an incredible job. She lists six ingredients for love: care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility and trust. I suggest you look deeper into that. But even if you don’t remember this—love is just the beginning.
And it’s so much more complex than a standard set of rule setup for society.
Tell me, what unhealthy social norms have been toxic for your relationship?