Because we aren’t ever taught directly, nor do we seek actively learning how to have good ones.
As children, we move through preschool, middle, and high school learning about various topics that are deemed relevant to us, from history to calculus and literature. Yet, nowhere on that agenda or syllabus does it include learning in any depth about relationships, though especially with regard to romantic ones. For instance, what does a healthy relationship look like? How does one go about choosing a healthy and great fitting romantic partner? And, how does one be a healthy and top-notch romantic partner themselves?
Nowhere do these questions arise during our education from children into young adulthood, other than potentially for a few minutes in health class, where abuse may or may not be touched upon. That is about it though.
In no way are we directly taught how to seek out, create, and maintain a quality romantic relationship. Nor, how to be a healthy and rockin’ romantic partner ourselves. (The same goes for friendships as well, though the focus of this article is on romantic relations).
As we grow up and proceed through life, our sole role models for romantic relations are first, our parents. This then potentially including our siblings, and then eventually, the friends with whom we surround ourselves. We watch the romances of these people play out, in healthy or, likely more often, unhealthy ways, then assuming this to be how relationships are and how they function.
We learn about relationships by watching and observing a small intimate circle of those surrounding us, and this often, to our detriment.
If most, or even just some of these relational role models in our lives aren’t good ones, it may take us years to eventually figure this out. Meanwhile, we go along, assuming these to be a blueprint for how romantic relationships look, are, and should be.
Further, most people do not actively seek learning and accumulated knowledge on the topics of relationships, friendships, and romantic ones, as well as education on what makes family connections healthy or not, as well as improvement on communication skills, and what healthy relationships look like in general.
The majority of people just go through life, living and learning via trial and error along the way. And even then, plenty of us do not choose to examine those patterns, choices, or lessons very carefully and then make the same mistakes again and again.
This does not tend to result in much wisdom with regard to romantic relationships. It, more often, will result in settling, choosing many wrong partners before and even if one eventually chooses right, and possibly even choosing flat out unhealthy relationships, romantic, as well as platonic and familial.
We do not teach, in our culture and to children growing up, many of the skills which are truly needed and actually necessary for that child to go forward with which are most likely to result in their best life possible. Geometry and Home Ect do not truly assist one in leading their most emotionally healthy and relationally successful life. And the consequences are seen across the landscape of frequently ill-fitting or even resigned and unhealthy romances, which are the norm rather than the exception.
When books like 50 Shades of Gray and Twilight come out, we follow the screaming crowd of fans, not tending to look closer and truly examine the nuances of what we are supporting and falling for at the drop of a hat. Because “everyone else loves it” too. When in fact, both of these books depict possessive, controlling, semi-abusive men who treat the women they “love” as objects to be molded and controlled to their will. This isn’t sexy and it isn’t love. It’s abuse and it’s icky. Yet, whole hosts of young adult women have grown up thinking these movies and books are examples of romance.
We could change this. We could much better equip our children to both be better great partners themselves, as well as, to more likely choose healthy relationships for their own lives. We could also avoid people getting into terrible relationships in the first place as well.
Offering several mandatory classes in and throughout school, so in preschool, middle, and high school, as well as in college (and making these courses requirements), each one tailored, of course, to the appropriate maturity level and age range to whom is being taught. And, on our own, choosing to have the personal agency and turn toward the pursuit of continued learning throughout our lives (even if we feel like, at the moment, we don’t need to and we’ve got it down) with regards to healthy relationships, better communication, and such.
These two things would be relevant steps that would make a real difference in terms of helping people learn, and early on, what healthy relationships look like and do not look like, as well as, how to be a great partner (and friend, and healthy loved one) themselves.
All of which would significantly reduce the incidence of choosing crappy relationships over the course of one’s life, as well as, would cut down on passing this cycle down to one’s own children and so on. This, resulting in far greater life satisfaction and relational happiness for people across the board.