Why You Shouldn't Judge Relationships That Aren't Yours

Because of the widespread reach of the media, we're filled with ideas of how life should be. More often than not, society prescribes to us expectations of how relationships should and should not be. Unfortunately, this media exposure allows some to believe they have a degree in relationship studies and counseling.   

Or, people feel entitled because they have had a relationship(s) in one point in their life, so they KNOW what they’re talking about. Using this logic, why haven't I been recruited to coach for the NBA? I played basketball once a few years ago.

What I'm trying to say is: You're not an expert in relationships. In fact, unless someone explicitly asks for your advice, if you notice a negative impact on someone's well-being because of a relationship, or, of course, if you notice signs of an abusive relationship, your opinions are not wanted or needed.

Here are some of the judgments cast on different types of relationships:

 

Long-distance/Long-term/First love

"Are you sure you're not just staying with them because you've just been together for so long?"

"You're missing out on the college experience."

"Do you even love them or are you too afraid to break it off?"

The (incorrect) assumption behind these relationships is that the couple is merely staying together in order to feel safe. There is a stigma that a person can't just be with one person their whole life, or for too long, because it can be boring or they are missing out on the potential of being with someone else.

 

Open relationships/Friends with benefits

"That's not healthy."

"You're going to catch feelings and regret it."

The reputation of these relationships is that they are not valid or are deemed as unnatural. There is a conception that relationships are defined as monogamous and must have both sexual and romantic relations to be valid.

 

Relationships online/through apps (Tinder, Grindr)

"It's not going to work out."

"Why not try the old-fashioned way?"

The negative stigma behind these relationships is that "it's unnatural." It is uncommon for relationships to be made online or through apps because we are accustomed to seeing relationships from a before-the-digital-age era. Additionally, the relationships are often seen as superficial because it is based on looks rather than personality.

 

Relationships with an age gap

"They are too old/young for them."

"Gold digger."

"Creep."

There are many stigmas behind age gaps. One is that men cannot date women older than them due to it undermining his "masculinity."  Additionally, men may be seen as a creep or taking the easy way by going after the younger girl. Woman may be seen as gold diggers or cougars.

 

Relationships made right after a breakup

"Just a rebound."

The stigma behind this action is that if someone moves on quickly after a previous relationship, it's not legit. In terms of gender norms, women may be slut-shamed for moving on too quickly and not taking time, while men are congratulated for finding a rebound so quickly.

 

Any relationship not posted on social media

"You guys barely post pictures on Facebook. Is everything okay?"

In this new era of social media, there is an expectation to document every life moment and memory online. Thus, when those in relationships do not post about each other, it may seem as if something is wrong or they do not love each other as much as those who do post.

 

There are so many negative stigmas on relationships that are in any way nontraditional or unconventional. These stigmas and negative outlooks are so common that people may numb themselves to the actual party's feelings. It hurts when these comments are made; it devalues a relationship in which someone may be perfectly happy or pleased. Even if someone may have the best intention at heart when making such a comment, it is not their place to say how another person feels. So before you're about to give your advice to someone on their relationship, stop and think. Why not just ask: Are you happy? Is everything going okay? How is so and so?

Don't tell them how they feel. Let them tell you how they feel.

 

None of the images used belong to the author or Her Campus UC Davis.

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