Relationships, partnerships, and marriages look much different nowadays than they have in the past. The outdated, traditional- man and woman- marriage is no longer the perceived norm. Thankfully, as a society, we are becoming much more inclusive– acknowledging and allowing space for all types of partnerships. Some people might have a polyamorous relationship. Some might have open marriages. Some people aren’t even interested in the idea of marriage for their relationship. Some people aren’t even interested in relationships. With so many different relationship combinations providing space for all gender identities, sexual orientations, intimacy preferences and desires- it’s important to make sure we are not participating in relationship shaming.
Relationship shaming happens when we make someone else feel “bad” or feel like they are “doing something wrong” or judging them because of the way they are choosing to engage (or not) in their relationship.
Read on to learn 3 ways that you may be unintentionally relationship shaming.
1. Not all couples have the same #CoupleGoals
It’s important to remember that there are so many different types of relationships, relationship status’, sexual preferences, and sexual identities. Your idea of #CouplesGoals might be different from someone else’s, and they are both ok. Sometimes we can put our expectation of what a relationship should look like and what works for us on to others. You do you- and let them do them.
2. Don’t assume, ask clarifying questions
Sometimes we make assumptions. Sometimes people refer to a term that we think we know- but really don’t understand. It’s best to not make assumptions about what a term or relationship status means to someone else. Asking clarifying questions helps us to be sure we understand another’s interpretation- and are not just going off our own. This helps to reduce the feeling of relationship shaming to others.
3. Single shaming is a type of relationship shaming
Having the expectation that everyone’s dream is to get married is an outdated idea. It is not a ‘problem’ when a man, a woman, or a non-binary individual is single. Assuming that everyone wants to be partnered or that being partnered is the ‘right’ relationship status is its own type of judgement. It’s important for us to understand that “conventional“ ways of being in relation with other are no longer the norm. It is not helpful to lead with the expectation that people are supposed to engage in traditional relationship or partnership roles.
Relationship shaming can show up in many ways: when we make a judgment or criticism on the way someone else is showing up in their relationship, when we judge someone’s relationship status; single, in a relationship, or it’s complicated, when we judge or comment on how often couples engage in sexual activity. When we make a comment like, “I couldn’t share my partner with someone else“. We are engaging in relationship shaming. Having an open mind, getting curious and understanding our own bias’ are helpful tools to reduce the unintentional ways we may participate in relationship shaming.
If you want to learn more about living better and loving better, or if you have been impacted by relationship shaming, a relationship coach can help.