A few weeks back Gee Hooks penned a good piece on why people are subscribing to relationship guidelines that don’t work for them. I commented on that post saying,

“I think it’s a certain type of person who thinks that they have to subscribe to the popular thought about relationships, marriages and good/bad significant others… it’s not even an issue of losing morals/values either. Quite frankly if you are still subscribing to that thought, you’re becoming an outdated individual. Nobody else is doing that anymore.”

I promised to expand on my thoughts in a subsequent post and then life happened but I hope to be able to return to relevance with this post today. In 2014, a year in which we are now more free as a society than we’ve ever been, you simply do not have to follow any relationship rules. (I admit that we are not 100% free and am not implying that we don’t have a long way to go.)

It may have been about ten years ago when I first had a conversation in a relationship forum about why men and women shouldn’t complain about their relationships. I had this theory that I would call the “you’re not going to break up with them, so shut up” theory. It was a pretty novel idea ten years ago and at the time I didn’t understand something about relationships. People have goals associated with their lives that involve relationships which make it a little hard to take the “break up with me or STFU” approach. That’s why later on in life I realized that in order to ever really be successful at relationships, we would have to be much more flexible with our demands. Regardless of the flexibility of our relationships, we must understand that doesn’t mean that we have to subscribe to any set of “relationship guidelines.”

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In 2014, let’s look at where we stand socially as a people and let’s break it down by the way we categorize; demographically:

Race – Each year, interracial relationships and marriages increase. Careful… most people will marry intra-racially. Only about 10% of marriages are interracial but that number has been climbing higher and higher each year. This means that you don’t have to subscribe to any thought that you should date within in your race, you’re more than welcome to but that’s your choice.

Gender – Men and women are experiencing a shift in traditional roles in relationships. Your gender no longer determines your role. And if it does, there’s a large majority of people who don’t agree with relationships that have traditional gender roles. This means that if you think that being a man means that you can’t date until XYZ happens or that being a woman means that you have to do ABC, you’re probably wrong. People aren’t making gender decisions as much as they’re making preferential decisions in their relationships that transcend gender.

Income or Occupation – Along the same lines, gender roles led society to think that if we were not going to subscribe to traditional roles then we were going to completely level the playing field. Due the archaic nature of the way society always reacts to new norms, this meant total equality in relationships and marriage. You would only date someone who was in your income level because that was the way to ensure a healthy split of financial duties. This is also not the case anymore. Many couples find that income or their occupation does not have to be a determining factor in who they date. One could argue that the amount of debt you have plays a large role and I wouldn’t dispute that. That’s very different from an income level or occupation; in those circumstances you can be rich or poor, if you have a ton of debt, you still have a ton of debt. In 2014, we aren’t pushing people to the same three or four occupations that presumably would bring wealth. We are encouraging people to find happiness in their lives and choose careers that fulfill themselves. Why would you date someone who doesn’t do the same?

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Family Background, Place of Birth, Education Level – However we want to classify saying, “your past” that’s what this section is about. And even in 2014, it’s no big deal anymore. Everyone is from everywhere. Divorce and non-traditional families are everywhere. I went to school with someone whose parents divorced and both are in same-sex marriages now. When it comes to education, our generation has gotten to the point where the more education you have, the more debt you have, and it isn’t really tied to any guarantee of making more money. Do what makes you happy and get the education needed to accomplish that. Twenty years ago, “He’s a doctor” would perk up your girlfriend’s ears but now they’re like, “Big f*cking deal, is he serious about settling down?”

I guess in this breakdown of the demographics of society right now all I’m really trying to get across to you all is that there are no rules. If you want to have an open relationship, do it. If you and your significant other want to go to sex parties and have threesomes AND still not consider that an open relationship, try it. If you want to be in a relationship for ten years or so before getting married; there’s nothing wrong with that if it works for you. If you want to date online, in-person, speed dating, Craigslist, or Hedonism II; you can do it because nobody can tell you not to do these things in a free world. I could go on but you get the point. These norms that people are subscribing to are just an archaic way of living life. The people who choose to still live by them need to be left in the past. We’re moving forward. I’ll see you guys in 3005.

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Dr. J