Relationships (Insights from the 13th-grade Podcast)
A brief introduction
Have you ever found yourself wondering any of these questions:
-How do I make sure my relationship continues to be awesome?
-How do I take my relationship from ok to great?
-Something in my relationship is not working, but I don’t know what…
These questions are more usual than we could imagine, indeed, there are many more, and they are not limited to a specific kind of relationship.
They could span all kinds and what is more, all of them affect our lives in multiple ways, oftentimes without even notice.
This is a close approach to the recent conversations with Josh Gannon about “Toxic Masculinity”, CeCe Carter about “Sex & Technology” and Leah Nanni about “Healthy & Unhealthy Relationships” which have enhanced and broadened our perspective with joyful and amazing information that surely could help a great number of people to identify, change and improve the way we see relationships, especially in this modern age.
In our most recent delivery, we had our dear friend, Leah, sharing her thoughts to help us debrief the podcasts:
“I love that podcast. I thought CeCe and her confidence and comfort talking about sex, in many different ways. It just kind of like made me think about, Hm, how, how comfortable would I be talking about these things? And like, should I be uncomfortable? Like I think that I probably struggle with shame a lot more than she does in where she’s at in her journey.
So it was just really refreshing to hear another female talking in a way that was so direct and open and honest. I just really respect. But in terms of some of the things that stood out to me, the first thing was just about the importance of being honest, upfront, not only with another person but with yourself. – Leah
As we can see, relationships don’t come with a manual or guidebook! So, it’s easy to get lost… Whether you want to secure your relationship or improve it, you first need to understand what makes a relationship really satisfying. Knowing that will help you recognize your strengths and identify your growth areas.
How do I know if I have a healthy relationship?
This question should be one of the first ones when it comes to relationships, but when you’re in the middle of it, it’s not always easy to see.
In order to respond to this question, we could start asking ourselves other questions that can help us step ahead over this.
Here are some suggestions:
-Can I be myself around my partner?
-Can I tell them how I really feel?
-Do I listen to their concerns?
-Do I feel safe with my partner?
-Do I trust the person I am seeing?
-Do I hold as much power in the relationship as my partner?
-Does the person I am seeing support me?
-Do we share similar interests?
-Do I feel good about myself when I am with them?
-Am I generally happy with my relationship?
These are just a few options to scout whether you are having a good relationship or maybe it is about time to reframe if there is something that needs to be changed, improved, or maybe it’s even time to move on.
If you can answer most of the questions from above with “yes” keep going, but if you hesitate or even respond with a resounding “no”, maybe it is about time to start paying attention and see if your relationship is taking you in the right direction.
Never hesitate when it comes to relationships and your mental and physical health are at stake.
At Knit Marketing we highly value the importance of having healthy relationships, and here are some thoughts from our team:
“It’s important to learn about relationships, to talk and get oriented, to have people your trust guide you, friends, family.. etc. How to have a good relationship is not something you are born knowing so don’t be afraid to ask for advice even if you feel your questions are dumb. We all had a 1st relationship, we all made mistakes. Learn from them and learn from other people. If you don’t feel comfortable with a situation/relationship most probably there is a reason for it.”
“I really agree that we’re barely taught what a healthy relationship looks like and our viewings/expectations of it are heavily influenced by the media, which don’t always depict what that looks like. I’ve never been in a relationship but I think I’m better prepared to identify one or build one because of conversations like these.”
A great relationship is the result of having the right skills in a number of key areas: Commitment, Intimacy, Individuality, Communication, Passion, Teamwork, Growth & Spirituality. Each dimension is important and adds to (or detracts from) your overall satisfaction.
What If I feel I am being unhealthy in my relationship?
One thing that didn’t come up in the podcasts was, “what if it’s me?” “What if I’m the toxic one?” If you notice that people find it hard to talk to you, you keep secrets, you have a hard time reacting with patience and empathy, or you’re not honest in relationships, nothing is beyond growth. We recommend seeking support through talkspace.com or betterhelp.com to start to work through any behavior you feel may be harmful to yourself or others.
Now let’s dive into how modern dating has transformed for new and not so new generations with the arrival of online dating apps.
Should I use online dating apps to meet more people?
We can approach this question from different perspectives, and also say beforehand that there is not only one answer.
For instance, CeCe is a very confident and empowered woman that conveys all of her feelings about sexuality and letting go of taboos.
She says that human relationships should be more open, and possess the courage to ask for what we really want.
“I am just looking for a genuine person, I was pretty firmed on what I wanted in a man, but sometimes people tend to be someone they are not just for you to like them and that is not cool”
“About online dating – CeCe Carter”
Online dating has surely become one of the main ways to meet new people nowadays, especially during this covid season.
Just in 2019, research showed that 30% of people in the U.S. had used or are using an online dating App, and surely the numbers are currently growing.
12% out of them had dated or even married people who met through these Apps.
You may be wondering now: Is it ok to date people that I meet online? From a very general point of view, we agree with online dating apps, but before you step ahead, we would like to recommend a few pointers to assure you will be safe. Always tell someone you trust where you’re going and if you want to be extra careful, you can use apps like “Find my Friends” so your friends can track your location. Most importantly, listen to your intuition. If something makes you question your safety, call that friend and get out.
And what do we think about online dating?
What CeCe mentions about dating just for dating and getting to know yourself and your needs in the process is one of the most accurate things I have ever heard, after 2 -year-long relationships, I dated a lot, nothing really serious but just had fun and those were the best relationships, I learned a lot about myself with those relationships and although you are always learning it definitely helped me to get to know some of what I definitely want and don’t want in a partner. – Fer
We know online dating will continue to evolve over the years and for those of us who have used or will use the apps to meet someone, let’s work together to create a healthy culture around it. Foster good values: honesty, respect, empathy, tolerance, inclusiveness, etc. and we’ll all be better for it.
What about sex?
There is not enough time in the day or space in this blog to unpack everything we need to talk about when it comes to sex and relationships. But for the purposes of our work and the conversations we had on our podcast, we’ll talk about this as it relates to education.
“I think it’s really disappointing that our education system fails so horribly in the sex-ed department. I know that most people my age only have porn to base their expectations of sex on, which is dangerous since porn isn’t all that accurate, as CeCe said.”
Sex Ed doesn’t teach the complexities of sex and relationships but leaves our young people searching online for answers. As Leah mentioned in our class final podcast, this view of sex is unfortunate because it’s boring and very limited.
In fact, sexuality starts from the moment we interchange language, goals, ideas, desires, expectations, and more. Sex can teach us about ourselves and about others. It’s not only physical but can teach us about empathy and communication.
Sex is also not everything in a relationship, which is why CeCe recommends having “playmates” while in search of something deeper; so physical needs can be met while leaving space to dive into the emotional realm of relationships without getting carried away in lust.
Why sex education is crucial for having healthy relationships?
When sex education is comprehensive, students feel more informed, thus they tend to make safer choices, and have healthier relationships. This results in fewer unplanned pregnancies and more protection against sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
While some teenagers pick up sexual health information from sources other than schools like parents, mates, social media, and pop culture, sometimes that information is not very reliable or it is biased.
The information and literacy around sex are actually stronger and more solid than ever before, which is good, however, it is precisely that fact for which we should pay more attention to the way we inform and educate our kids and youth population. The future relationships, new parents, and coming generations are proportionally linked to the sex education system that is not only supplied in schools but also at home.
Surprisingly, there is still this belief around sex education where it only has to do with sex, but it goes beyond. Sex education includes comprehending how the teen birth rate affects our society, how it helps to reduce harassment and violence, the contraceptive prevalence rate, sexually transmitted infections, physical dating violence, bullying, and suicide, just to mention a few.
Check on this Sexuality Education Legislation and Policy: A State-by-State Comparison of Health Indicators to broaden further information.
Want more on healthy sexuality? Check out CeCe’s podcast, The Afterglow Podcast.
From this point, we can start talking about masculinity, how it has been molded through the years and how our society addresses and relates to it nowadays.
What is masculinity?
Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles associated with men and boys. Although sociologists think of masculinity as socially constructed, there is also widespread recognition that some behaviors considered masculine are influenced by both cultural factors and biological factors. To what extent masculinity is biologically or socially influenced is subject to debate. It is distinct from the definition of the biological male sex, as both males and females can exhibit masculine traits. Source: Wikipedia
What could be toxic masculinity?
From a general perspective, society considers toxic masculinity as any men’s behavior that threatens mentally or physically other people´s integrity or health, and that is usually related to his position (socially or physically speaking).
Of course, this concept may vary depending on different circumstances and factors, but in the end, toxic masculinity has affected the way our relationships are being molded and how women and men polarize openly around the subject.
Especially because toxic masculinity is being deeply criticized today more than ever before, but why is this? is it that masculinity is worse than ever before? or maybe the subject is just being part of the media strategy to affect how society looks at the men?
For years, masculinity has been stigmatized and overall related to something that is harmful, however, it is actually healthy to talk about it and break it down to better understand how it has changed in the last years and how we could relieve the way we relate to it.
What could be healthy masculinity?
Leah shared a good example and personal story where she tells us about her dad and his country’s greeting customs.
This story gives us a very pure perspective of what healthy masculinity could be when we are free of prejudices and expectations.
It is clear that we live in a society that for decades has been tied up in strong customs; and this could be a good moment to start asking ourselves whether we are following healthy patterns or maybe they could be changed or adapted to our times.
As a man, being friendly, gentle, affectionate, and showing our love to other men can also be as natural as showing these attentions to women, regardless of our relationship.
Josh explained that a man does not stop being a man just because he hugged his friend for too long, and that cannot be more accurate.
As we could see from Wikipedia, masculine behaviors are not limited to men only, masculine traits could be shown from both parties, same as female traits, putting aside their sexual orientation.
In fact, women also play an essential role when it comes to raising healthy men for life.
Even though the absence of a father or masculine figure could affect the way a boy addresses masculinity, it is possible to raise a boy with healthy masculinity from the beginning.
Healthy masculinity needs a complete team to succeed that includes our family, school, friends, partners, and healthy society in general. This point should also make us wonder if we are contributing to either fostering toxic or healthy masculinity.
How can we help to prevent Toxic masculinity?
Josh talked about something very common still happening in our current days, the fact of taking toxic customs, traditions, and behaviors around “masculinity” as something normal as if it were a joke. We don’t mean to point anybody as a bad person just for being masculine, all the opposite, but we do have the power of choosing whether or not we are part of a social circle where women or even men could be threatened or harmed by other men showing aggressiveness, anger, or violence.
“I think society can give men a safe space to share their emotions by working to disassociate emotions with femininity and to associate it with humanity. Men are humans too. It’s only common sense that humans have emotions. I think the first step is to provide reassurance that there isn’t anything wrong with them for having emotions and that their feelings are valid.”
How could we foster healthy masculinity?
Start educating our kids and keeping them aware of the topic is also crucial to raising healthy men, the fact that we are not living toxic masculinity in our own lives, does not mean that it does not exist or happens to other people. That is why it is very important to spread awareness to our entire society with the intention of opening the door to people who may be living or going through toxic masculinity.
To speak out about the subject more often might help to carve a starting point, especially from an early age, girls and boys need the same attention, the same information, and they are equally capable of loving completely in the same way.
Derived from the pandemic, Institute Promundo in alliance with Kering Foundation explored and make good research about how parents feel about their male sons and what are their expectations about them.
You can also check out Josh’s podcast here to get more information about this and more social topics of interest.
“I loved that conversation. And his podcast is great too. I would recommend listening to it if you enjoyed that conversation.” – Rebecca
Humans have an inherent desire to be close to other people — to connect and build relationships. There has not existed another time like this where we can be more connected than today, and like everything, there are obstacles, disadvantages, challenges, and more. We know not everyone is living a good moment right now, but it is actually that fact that could encourage us to become better individuals that eventually create functional families, healthy classrooms, joyful groups of friends, lasting marriages, etc.
Our relationships make us wiser, stronger, and ultimately teachers for life. There is a lot to learn from people, even in their worse moments, even when they are not the best for us, they could be the best for others later or even now, let’s be open to the change, to other points of view.
Remember sex is not the end, but rather a means of communication, it boosts relationships to the next level using it correctly and safely.
Toxic masculinity, unhealthy relationships, sex, and technology are completely different worlds for each of us and it is precisely in that difference where we can complement each other by being respectful, comprehensive, and humans after all.