Dysfunctional relationships

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
Our culture favors a version of "love" that is actually pretty dysfunctional in many respects. Movies, pop songs, and TV-- thanks to the broader historical, largely Judeo-Christian forces-- tend to depict love in ways that equate it with total self-denial and enmeshment. This leads to a society full of people who place unrealistic demands on themselves and their partners in romantic/family relationships and in fact leads to a lot of confusion and dysfunction.

Discuss.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Perhaps things are evolving slowly. certainly there seems to be a lot less emphasis on the nuclear family and marriage, for example. Both of those are remarkable for their permanence and exclusivity.

I suspect that a lot of people model their relationships mainly on those of their parents (although the prevailing culture is important as well) so it will be interesting to see what the next generation looks like.

I've been ruminating on this a little since seeing a tv programme recently about some communal living experiments in England in the 80s (a group of people reared their kids fairly collectively and gave them all "Wild" as a surname.)
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
I suspect that a lot of people model their relationships mainly on those of their parents
A recipe for utter disaster if ever I heard one!

I agree with the starting statement broadly, but could you give an example? For me, the idea of romantic love is a weirder one the more I think about it, and one which brings probably more pain than pleasure to most people throughout their lifespans as a whole (is this fair or am I just bitter?), the more so the more they believe in it. The expectation of romantic love as a way to end existential loneliness is impossibly seductive, but maybe it prevents us facing up to that essential human fact? I'd love to think this wasn't true, but in cold, rational moments it seems convicing...

Anyone have any links to articles with a potted history of the concept?
 

john eden

male pale and stale
A recipe for utter disaster if ever I heard one!
I dunno, I've slowly come to the conclusion that basing my ideas about relationships on what I learnt from my parents isn't such a bad place to start - much better than basing them on countless other twats I have encountered, or what one sees in the media whether mainstream or underground.

There is some kind of idea of perfection underlying all of this - both the idea of romantic love and perhaps also in escaping it.

Whereas for me relationships are really about the day to day practicalities...
 

zhao

there are no accidents
default setting for relationships in a dysfunctional society...

bugs me when people say alternative models of social organization doesn't work, because what they mean is it doesn't work in the context of the shit we're steeped in.
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
bugs me when people say alternative models of social organization doesn't work, because what they mean is it doesn't work in the context of the shit we're steeped in.
yes. when someone goes on and on about how wonderful their family is and how important it is to them, really bugs me - as though people with 'dysfunctional' families are somehow lesser.

I think maybe if you know what you really want from a relationship (probably through painful trial and error and a fair few failed attempts...?), then you can get something really healthy/good...but there are so many pitfalls to avoid (one of my own is looking for things in the other person that you actually want to be/have done yourself....a colossally unhealthy and sick trait).
 
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STN

sou'wester
yes. when someone goes on and on about how wonderful their family is and how important it is to them, really bugs me - as though people with 'dysfunctional' families are somehow lesser.
why does it imply that people with dysfunctional families are lesser?

At university I lived with five people who were all very close to their families and it used to drive me mad with resentment.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
When I was growing up I had absolutely no fucking clue about where my parents were coming from and the impact of things like the 2nd world war on them as people.

My Mum lost her Dad in the war and then her Mum died of a heart attack before she left school. That sort of thing is pretty common and would fuck anybody up. B

But of course it was never really mentioned, not even when I stuck a load of Crass posters up on my bedroom wall about the war dead. :eek:
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Re: Communal living - it's so far out there that you do get all this crystal healing mung bean baggage attached to it, true.

It's also a bit showy - there are more informal arrangements along these lines happening all the time - shared childcare, extended families, etc - even people with relatively "open" sexual relationships who don't call it that.
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
why does it imply that people with dysfunctional families are lesser?

At university I lived with five people who were all very close to their families and it used to drive me mad with resentment.
oh, it doesn't imply it of necessity, but I find a lot fo people with solid families can be very supercilious about it. Not all, by any means, but some people simply don't seem to understand how that can have a profound effect upon one's psyche. They're often the same people who don't like to date people with (shudders at the coming euphemism) 'baggage'...
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Getting back to romantic love - I guess Bridget Jones seems to have captured a feeling amongst some twenty-something middle class women. This expectation that a rich attractive man will sweep you off your feet and you will marry and be in love forever.

Certainly a bunch of single women I know seem incapable of getting it together with blokes because they have ridiculously limiting expectations. (or maybe the blokes I know just can't be arsed and should make more effort, ha ha)
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
When I was growing up I had absolutely no fucking clue about where my parents were coming from and the impact of things like the 2nd world war on them as people.
I identify with this one, big time. I have come to the view that it is incumbent upon parents to take some time to explain this to their children...not knowing your parents as people leaves a lot of unanswered questions about your own identity, in my experience.

As to communal living, I think the informal arrangements can be great, eg bringing up your kids so that they have meaningful relationships with other adults other than their parents eg close family friends etc.

(Why does that last sentence sound so dodgy? It's not meant to be...)
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
Getting back to romantic love - I guess Bridget Jones seems to have captured a feeling amongst some twenty-something middle class women. This expectation that a rich attractive man will sweep you off your feet and you will marry and be in love forever.
Kill: anyone found using the phrase "the one".
 

STN

sou'wester
yes, why is there just one, rather than some other preordained number? I've never understood that.

'I think she might be one of the six'.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I identify with this one, big time. I have come to the view that it is incumbent upon parents to take some time to explain this to their children...not knowing your parents as people leaves a lot of unanswered questions about your own identity, in my experience.
Well yes I agree, but then you have to look at why they are so emotionally repressed and uncomfortable about talking about their feelings and all that...

I mean, my Dad is WAY more relaxed and open than his parents were, but they were a total nightmare. So you are starting from pretty low down the scale.

In fact I am constantly amazed at myself for being so well balanced, emotionally mature and attractive. ;)
 
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