Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Taboo Relationships ...

You might think that in this enlightened age anything goes as far as relationships are concerned, but that's not entirely true. Certain types of relationship are still frowned upon for a number of reasons:

* Safety
* Legal
* Because someone might get hurt

The dictionary describes taboo as 'A ban or an inhibition resulting from social custom or emotional aversion'. So what are these 'emotional aversions' in relationships, and how can you deal with them?

Forbidden Fruit
There are some people that are usually considered off-limits romantically, but you can't always control who you fall for. What happens when you find yourself going out with your boss, or fancying your best mate's mum?

* The reason it's often seen as taboo is that one of these people is often in a position of influence over the other. You need to be careful that this influence isn't abused by either of you.

* If the person you're going out with is senior to you at work you will also need to think carefully about how you will deal with things like office gossip, trouble from your/their boss, and what will happen to your working environment if your office romance goes horribly wrong.

* You should also know that some people in these positions of influence are legally not allowed to have a relationship with someone they are responsible for. This includes teachers and legal guardians (foster/adoptive parents etc), so your crush on your history teacher may have to be conducted from a safe distance.

Taboo: Age Gaps & Affairs
Mind the Gap
Whether it's a preference for the more mature man or you've fallen for an older woman, relationships with big age gaps can have all sorts of pitfalls:

* A boy or girlfriend who has more money than you may seem attractive, but it can also change the balance of a relationship. They may be able to afford to go to places you can't, and you may not like the feeling of being 'kept' if they pay for you all the time.
* Quite often someone who's older has "been there, done that". While experience can be attractive, it also means that he or she may not want to go out as often.
* While we're talking about experience, you may also find that an older person has very different expectations of sex. As in every sexual situation it's very important that you don't feel pressured to do anything you don't want to, for whatever reason - check our advice on staying safe.

Secret Affairs
Affairs can be exciting; the thrill of doing something with someone you really shouldn't be with and the secrecy can all add to the drama of the relationship. But they are very destructive and the possibility that someone will get hurt is very real. Things to think about:

* Why are you having an affair? You're probably feeling unhappy in your relationship. To be fair to your boy/girlfriend you need to either sort this problem out or end the relationship honestly.
* What happens when you're found out? The person you have been unfaithful to will feel hurt and angry. If you want your relationship to survive you will need to rebuild the trust that has been betrayed, and this will take time.
 If you're the third person in a relationship you may want to think about why you're attracted to the situation, and bear in mind that if the affair ends you might have to cope alone.

Abusive Relationships
Physical Abuse
If you're living with, going out with or married to someone who is violent towards you, you might be feeling isolated and like no-one understands what you are experiencing. This is not the case - there are people who understand and who know what it feels like.

In relationships, violent behaviour can start at any time. People who experience domestic violence are usually female and those who cause it are often male. But men can be victims of violence by their female partners, too. And sometimes people in lesbian or gay relationships can be victims of abuse from their partner. Violence in relationships can take the form of:

* Physical abuse
* Sexual assault
* Threats of violence
* Belittling
* Withholding of finances
* Being held against your will

If your partner is abusing you, you may feel isolated from your friends and family. This is a common side-effect of emotional abuse and can have long-lasting effects.

People in abusive relationships often lose their confidence and begin to think that it's their fault. This is not true.

If in the first stages of your relationship you think there might be problems with violence, try to talk about it. There are lots of groups that can help couples deal with problems like this.

Alcohol and drug abuse
Alcohol and drug abuse can make the violence worse with some people and there are lots of counselling and self-help services available for people with drink or drugs related problems.

Children witnessing abuse
If you've got kids and they see abuse, they can be affected too - even in later life and even if they are not being physically abused themselves. Often parents (particularly mothers) are worried that if they do something about the problems in the home their children will be taken into care.

The Family Law Act 1996 protects victims of domestic violence and their children, and there are safe refuges and on-going support for families getting away from violent situations.

No comments: