When children become young men and women and they embark on their first relationships they often realise that relationships are not quite like the fairy tales they were told as a child.

This can be quite a crushing disappointment and in the absence of access to a better map, they convince themselves that the person they loved so much was at fault and that person was clearly not the fairy tale concept of ‘the one’ that they have been taught and they plough onwards with a new relationship.

In other words they insist that their map is correct and that reality is to blame.

To avoid repeating the same mistake of chosing the wrong partner and to find ‘the one’ they also read advice columns, talks to their mates down the pub, read magazines and turn to popular culture like slushy ballads and soap operas on tv.

Unfortunately this compounds the problem and takes the map further away from the reality, not any closer, and here is why.

Society at large promotes a key concept which I am going to call “relationship duress”.

Two definitions.

Firstly, “duress” which is defined in the dictionary, like this :



1. compulsion by threat or force; coercion; constraint.

2. Law . such constraint or coercion as will render void a contract or other legal act entered or performed under its influence.

3. forcible restraint, especially imprisonment

Secondly, “relationship duress”, or RD for short, which I am going to define as the collective term for the myriad of ways in which society creates an uncomfortable environment for those who do not seem to be following the standard script of :

  1. Find partner
  2. Date in a “comitted” monogamous relationship
  3. Get married

Now if are reading this and thinking that I must be against marriage or monogamy then I can assure you that I am not.  I am very much against relationship duress however.  Relationship duress causes all kinds of mapping errors, and as I am a sexual relationship cartographer (hey – maybe I should put that on my business card!), I find this quite horrifying.

The relative benefits of following the date -> get married script compared other kind of relationships is something that I will contrast and compare in later posts  but I am not against it.  I merely introduced marriage here as a way of introducing the concept of relationship duress because it is relationship duress that causes and perpetuates most of the mapping errors in sexual relationships and it is the mapping errors themselves that make relationships difficult.

(to be continued …)