How Our Cultural Narratives Can Stop Us From Being With The Partner Who Is Truly Good For Us
I Always Fall For The One Who Is Bad For Me
When I meet new clients, I always ask them about their relationship history. What was great, what went wrong, do they see any patterns?
I often hear from both male and female clients that “I always fall for the one who is bad for me”.
Now, my job as a matchmaker is to introduce them to a potential partner who would be good for them. Who shares their values, beliefs, outlooks on life, and who complements the emotional needs they have (yes, we dig quite deep in those intake meetings!).
In my matchmaking endeavours however, I have a powerful adversary, and his (or her) name is stereotype.
We all have stereotypes (or biases) and they can be quite useful, in fact. In our Neanderthal days, stereotypes were vital to our survival. If we saw a saber tooth tiger, we just KNEW that this was bad news and that we’d better avoid that tiger, if we didn’t want to end up as dinner. So, stereotypes are embedded into our brains, and they produce behaviours designed to protect us. That’s the great news.
The not so great news is that they produce beliefs which we take for granted and therefore don’t question. It also doesn’t help that a lot of the internal processes connected to stereotypes happen unconsciously. We don’t stop to test the truth value of a stereotype. While for our Neanderthal ancestors it would have been foolish to test whether really all saber tooth tigers have a taste for human flesh (hey, maybe some tigers were indeed really nice and would have made great pets), there are cultural norms that are worth re-testing.
Which cultural narratives have shaped us, and the views we have on gender, is largely due to the country and family we grew up in.
Gender Ideas Develop At An Early Age
The gender roles interviews with kids video reveals that children form ideas about genders, and what is appropriate behaviour, at a very early age. The experiences we make during our lifetimes often confirm the cultural view of genders, hence there is very little space for something which doesn’t conform to the “norm”.
Hence, a man who is sensitive to a woman’s needs, who asks what she wants, who listens, is seen as “weak” and “too nice”. A woman who is not afraid to make decisions, to voice her opinion, and ask for what she is due, is seen as “mannish” and “not feminine”.
Yes, we live in an age of questioning gender stereotypes in a work and society context. However, when it comes to confronting our own gender stereotypes on an emotional level, there is still a lot of work to do.
Acknowledgement Is Key
The first step is to acknowledge that we have stereotypes. Once that step is taken, we can address and question them.
Are you interested in discovering the stereotypes that play a part in your decision-making and behaviour? Have a look at the Implicit Association Test (IAT) which was developed by Harvard University:
I love the video below about the class that learned that their gender assumptions were not true, the looks of surprise (and enlightenment) on the children’s faces speaks volumes.
Have your stereotypes held you back in your search for the right partner?
Are you always falling for the same type and would like to change that pattern?
Are you ready to discover, challenge and work on your cultural narratives and gender stereotypes? Then e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a dating coaching session with me.