Somewhere in my early 30s, 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 seven 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.
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 sh*t 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 knocks, 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 sh*tshow can be addressed simply by educating and training people.
For starters, we can train married parents. Kids learn by watching us grown ups. The more we have our shit together in our relationships, the better our kids will do too.
We can also make a virtual marriage class required to get your marriage license (although in my experience, when we “require” things, many people naturally rebel).
We can slowly infiltrate the private high schools, colleges and universities by giving them a intimate relationships 101 class while simultaneously doing research to measure its efficacy. Once we demonstrate the class actually helps people with their relationship problems, we can then move on to public schools.
If nothing else, through effective marketing, we can teach the motivated kids who get that this could save them a lot of headaches and heartaches through online classes and apps where kids meet up, share, and connect around the material.
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.
The possibilities are endless.
That’s why I’m inviting hearty warrior-like people to join the movement of people learning this fundamental life skill so we can have a big impact on kids and adults everywhere (If you feel called to get involved or help out, you can do that here).
And, in the meantime, each one of us can take a stand and take responsibility for our own relationships by learning how. Be the change, right?
If you want to learn the basics of this class you never got in school, Join me for a free live webinar this week and watch your confidence with intimate relationships deepen and strengthen.
Author: Jayson Gaddis
Editors: Renée Picard; Catherine Monkman