Relationship Guide Review

The Elastic Band Theory of Relationships

“Relationships are like elastic bands,” my friend explained. “If you pull away, they’ll follow you, but if you get closer, (‘Honey! I love you darling! I want you!’) They’ll pull away.” “Really?” “Yes” she replied. “You must know the famous advice for women?” The elastic band theory of relationships!

The Elastic Band Theory of Relationships

Then I scrolled back to when I was a boy and heard my mother giving my sister her usual advice on how to deal with boys and she said, “Oh you cannot make it easy for them, you have to play hard to get for them to respect you more”. It made no sense to me then, and the advice is making no sense to me now, however there is the theory to support the behaviour, the elastic band theory of relationships.

The Elastic Band Theory of Relationships

Certainly this elastic band advice is strange, and raises questions: is this advisory still around? Is it all about control issues? Is this the well-known fear of intimacy, commitment and being tied down? Are men really keener on women who are meaner?  Maybe it is all a myth. Are men all masochists and are women all sadists? Of course not. (The popularity of the 50 Shades novels among women and the handcuffs suggests that women are more likely to be aspiring masochists than sadists.) Why would women be mean if men are keen? And why would men be ice if women are nice? the elastic band theory of relationships is killing me.

Can one be too nice? I looked up “nice” in my Concise Oxford dictionary: “agreeable, attractive, delightful, well-flavoured, satisfactory, kind, friendly, considerate, generally commendable.” So no, you can’t. On the other hand my human sources say that if you’re too nice, they (men or women) will take you for granted and you can get trampled underfoot. Nice does not equal spineless wimp. You have to guard your own self, autonomy and power, or lose yourself and, eventually, your partner.

The elastic band theory seems to imply that we should all be mean to each other to keep each other. This is not a happy scene; repulsive actually. This cannot be wise advice. These relationships seem perverse. Weird we know, but perverse? This is not love. We know we must have some boundaries, but this elastic band theory seems more about control and neurosis than love, so I think we must reject it as emotionally immature and narcissistic. It seems to describe unhealthy, immature, dysfunctional relationships fraught with negative energies and power struggles. Power struggles within any significant relationship, intimate or otherwise, wreak havoc in that relationship and are indicative of our own narcissism and our need to control the other. The more we struggle for power within a significant relationship, the more we crave for our wants, needs, and personal goals to take precedence over the feelings, thoughts, and desires of the other.

Genuine intimacy requires dialogue, transparency, vulnerability and reciprocity. This would be a partnership centred and grounded in seeking to understand our partner and allowing our partner to know us, being accepting, respectful, and empathetic. The ultimate goal in a relationship, sans the power struggle and the elastic band pulling and pushing, is surely to maintain, strengthen and enhance this relationship. Successful intimate relationships are partnerships of equals, characterized by intimacy which evolves through mutual self-disclosure and sincerity, and are based on shared values, wants, needs, and goals. Partners recognize that they have different temperaments, strengths, vulnerabilities, and emotional histories, which can create issues, but still.

Lonely man waiting with bunch of flowers

Lonely man waiting with bunch of flowers

In genuine intimate relationships, the partnership genre, differences are appreciated and cherished with partners who are flexible, collaborative, accepting, honest (sans the games playing and the control), compassionate, supportive, fair, equal, reliable, loving.

Love is the bedrock of relationships, presumably – and don’t you love the rocking bed image?  and “mean” should have no place there. So, do you think that there is any truth in the theory that relationships are all, or mostly, like elastic bands? Remember: Too much pulling on an elastic band will eventually break it.

I could not be more than 7 years old when a boy pulled a little girls hair and ran, she started to cry and I was so mad a the boy for doing this, however the teacher who knew what was going on called him and asked him to apologise to the little girl. With head bowed and looking really sad he said he was sorry, I saw a smile on the teachers face and knew I was missing something, and as I grew older understood when boy like girls they are unable to express their feelings they try to get the girls attention by hurting her.

As we grow older we learn to express our feelings in a proper manner, some never grow up, so there you have it the elastic band theory. Let love be the bedrock of our relationships and I presume we know what love is.

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