Somewhere in my early 30’s I realized that I missed one of the most important classes I could have taken in school–a class on relationships.
It wasn’t until I broke 7 hearts, burned countless bridges, and ran away from conflict for about 20 years that I realized that I had missed something.
The education I missed was an “intimate relationships” class that could have taught me to stay in the fire and face my intimacy fears. On a more basic level it could have taught me the kind of listening that would have had my ex-girlfriends feel understood, seen and appreciated. This relationship class could have shown me that conflict is merely a doorway to mutual understanding and if engaged with effectively, strengthens a relationship.
A relationship class could have taught me the value of talking openly about sex and how to do it so both parties feel safe, sexy and cared for.
This critical life-skill class might have taught me how to confront family members, bosses, or friends in a way that maintains my integrity rather than requires my self-betrayal.
Geez, I could have learned how to take responsibility for my feelings and my part.
Man, there’s so much I could have learned.
In fact, a simple relationship class could have helped me with all of my painful life challenges because every single one of them involved other people.
And given that relationships are the one factor that leads to lifelong fulfillment, more than money, a nice home, or anything material, why the hell are we not teaching relationship skills to kids?
When I ask around, it turns out most people agree that a relationship class could have helped them navigate a minefield of drama, stress, and interpersonal headaches and heartaches and would probably still be paying dividends to this day had they taken it years ago.
But instead of a badass relationship class, I was taught to memorize useless shit for standardized tests that I remember nothing about and don’t use to this very day.
Call me a privileged, entitled asshole, I know. How ungrateful I am to speak such dismissive comments. But the truth is, I needed classes that matter, like personal finances and relationships. Street level classes that would actually apply to my real lived life.
Most relationship “lessons” people get are from the school of hard knox, like any other valuable lesson in life. And, for some of us, those lessons came at a very big price. Divorce, affairs, betrayal, getting financial screwed, a painful breakup, being left, not being chosen, getting excluded, being bullied, being publicly humiliated, or just the chronic low grade stress of living with someone that irritates you.
Like when you have a life-partner and you are in a fight, life is just plain harder when you are disconnected. And, if that primary relationship is stressful on a daily basis? Your day is not only more difficult, your body feels the burden and you work longer to avoid coming home to a place that is supposed to be nourishing and instead has turned toxic.
And, the research is now clear how damaging it can be to our health to have unsatisfying or stressful relationships.
When we don’t learn the art of intimate relationships, we default to whatever was given to us through daily modeling that lasted decades. For some of us that modeling came from a reactive, animal-like, adult. For others there was a desert of emotional connection or worse, silence, void of the kind of warmth we now have access to as a human species.
The emotional, physiological, and even spiritual cost of not getting intimate relationships is quite high.
Fortunately this shit show can be addressed simply by educating and training people.
If the quality of our lives depend on the quality of our relationships, then let’s make teaching this essential life skill a top priority.
For example, I feel a deep fire burning in me to address this epidemic. So, I’m inviting hearty warrior-like people to join the movement of people learning this fundamental life skill that was never taught in school–relationship.
And, in the meantime, each one of us can take a stand and take responsibility for our own relationships by learning how.
The first step you can take is to get very honest and stop bullshitting yourself. You’ll need help from a fierce, but trusted friend who is willing to tell you the truth.
Because we all think we’re great listeners and communicators, we will need someone like a life-partner or family member (who has spent years with us) to bring the heat.
Ask them something like this:
“Hey partner, will you be brutally honest with me? Where can I improve myself in our relationship. Listening, communicating my needs, conflict, foreplay, or ?” Give them a few choices in case they want to play nice.
Remind them you are a big boy or girl and you can take good care of yourself.
Not, you’re not allowed to get defensive with them. Just thank them and go sit with the feedback and see what truth is inside of it.
Excellent, you just made the first step to learn relationships by admitting where you are weak. Now, you can be taught something by your partner. 🙂
Want the 7 fundamentals of an extremely satisfying intimate relationship? Then join me here: