Relationship duress is a constant and relentless bombardment and it is encountered in modern society from all sides on a daily basis. From parents, friends and complete strangers. From every love song, soap opera, advice column, romantic comedy and so on.
People grow up being told that they have to “settle down” and “do the right thing”. This is a form of relationship duress.
Guys are told you have to “make an honest women out of” their girlfriend therefore implying that a woman (and only the woman) is dishonest if both of them are in a sexual relationship but are not married and her reputation of honesty can only be salvaged by the man. This is a form of relationship duress.
Even girlfriends ask their boyfriends with a completely straight face “When are you going to make an honest woman out of me?” without even realising that they are implying their own dishonesty.
Both men and women experience relationship duress in different ways but both experience it for their entire lives.
Broadly speaking there are two distinct phases of RD. The first lifetime RD phase goes from birth until marriage.
During this phase, girls as they are growing up, are groomed to believe that one day they will marry their prince charming and the wedding is their fairy princess day and that day is going to be the happiest day of their lives and that they will live happily ever after.
In the meantime, guys are told that, if you want a serious relationship then you have to take a womens sexuality, throw it in a box and stamp and label the box as your property and that if you don’t, its not a real relationship.
This is all relationship duress although in the case of the “fairy princess day” it is the carrot and not the stick.
The second phase of lifetime RD is from marriage onwards. As, when people get married, they legally handcuff themselves to each other to prevent the other from leaving should they wish to. This is clearly a form of relationship duress albeit a mutual one-on-one form of it.
As we can see from the dictionary definition of duress (here), this foricble restraint is clearly a form of duress. Also, if we look at the legal point of the definition of duress (above) and you come to the amusing conclusion that it is actually not possible to grow up in any society where one never experiences coercion to get married, technically speaking the contract should be null and void.
The relationship duress to have children comes especially from immediate family members following the marriage is routinely very strong also.
So the second phase of RD during your lifetime is basically :
- Have kids
- Stay married
There are countless forms of relationship duress. Too many to list in this book but, now that you know what relationship duress means, you will be able to recognise it and label it as such when you see it.
Trust me, you will see it practically on a daily basis. Now you have a name for it. When you see it, just snap your fingers, point at it and say “That’s RD right there”.
New forms of relationship duress and new RD words are being invented even today in the 21st century.
Recently I read an magazine article about George Clooney’s refusal to ‘settle down’ where the author described him, and men of his ilk who refuse to get married, as ‘kidults’. A derisory term implying that a grown up that is somehow trapped in childhood and whos behaviour is deemed as juvenile and only suitable for a younger person. Somehow as an adult who never “grew up”.
A self defeating notion when you realise that one of the marks of being an adult is making your own decisions about your own life and taking responsibilty for them, which is exactly what Clooney did, and one of the marks of being a kid is being told by other people what to do which is exactly what the author of the article was clearly trying to do.
This is a form of relationship duress. Recognise it for what it is.
People that do submit to relationship duress then go on to parrot that same relationship duress and try to shove it down other people’s throats as a way of convincing themselves their own map is correct and calming their own fears and their own doubts about whether they are doing they right thing.
The fact that they can point to so many other people in society who are also are parroting the exact same RD messages convinces them even further that they are right.
“Of course I am doing the right thing.” they tell themselves. Gosh darnit you should do the right thing too !
The fact that so many other people in society are parroting the exact same RD messages also convinces people, who’s gut insticts tell them to disagree with the majority view, that their instincts are wrong and to forget their own best judgments and to conform to the majority view.
Conformity is something that we will look at in the next post.
(to be continued …)