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  • 0:00 Relationships Rules Theory
  • 0:52 Protection & Support
  • 1:56 Happiness, Sharing, & Trust
  • 3:15 Authenticity & Self-Worth
  • 4:24 Commonality,…
  • 5:57 Lesson Summary
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Relationship Rules Theory

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has an M.A in instructional education.

Whether a friendship or a romance, relationships take work and the adherence to some regulations of sorts. This lesson gives us tips on how to have healthy connections by explaining the guidelines set forth by the relationship rules theory.

Relationships Rules Theory

Just like there are certain rules that dictate how we operate our motor vehicles, for instance you stop at red lights and go at green ones, there are rules that govern how we should operate our relationships. In fact, there's actually a sociological theory about it! The relationships rules theory asserts that relationships are held together by the observance of definite rules, and when these rules are not complied with, our connections might weaken or end. Just like our streets would be chaos if we all ignored traffic laws, so will our relationships be if we ignore the guidelines set forth by the relationship rules theory. In today's lesson, we'll discuss these rules as they pertain to both platonic and romantic relationships.

To kick things off, we'll start with the rules set forth for platonic friendships.

Protection and Support

For starters, one should stick up for a friend, even when the friend isn't around. For example, let's say you and Judy are close friends who work together. One day, Judy is home sick, and everyone in the office says she's just faking it. According to our theory, you should speak up and come to Judy's defense. To not do so would fly in the face of the friendship rules. Imagine how hurt Judy would be to find out you stayed silent while her name was tossed around in the mud.

Closely linked to sticking up for one another, our next rules states that friends should offer help when a friend is in need. They should also support each other emotionally. So, according to our theory, not only should you stick up for poor Judy when she's the subject of office caterwauling, you could also offer to pick up some chicken noodle soup for her on your way home. Then when she returns to work, you can offer a compassionate ear or a shoulder to cry on, if and when she finds out everyone in the office had labeled her a faker!

Happiness, Sharing, and Trust

Taking this a step further, our theory tells us that friends should strive to make one another happy. So, rather than sitting around bemoaning office politics, you could suggest going to Judy's favorite restaurant or going to see her favorite movie. If that doesn't work, you could always try a gallon of ice cream and some potato chips!

Putting more of an uplifting spin on your friendship with Judy, the relationship rules theory tells us friends should feel free to share their successes, hopes, and dreams with one another. For instance, say the corner office opens up, and you really want it and the promotion that comes with it! If Judy is really your friend, she will willingly listen as you go on and on about it.

Of course, if Judy gets the promotion and you don't, odds are you're going to be a bit sad. Even if you're truly happy for Judy, you still are probably going to be a bit melancholy, and you should be able to share this with Judy. According to our theory, one of the rules of friendship is that friends should be able to confide in each other. Even if the topic is a difficult one, you and Judy should be able to trust each other with your emotions. Of course, this rule is just as appropriate for romantic relationships as it is friendships, so we'll use it as a segue into matters of love and infatuation.

Authenticity and Self-Worth

According to the relationship rules theory, romantic partners should be authentic and open with one another. Lovers must drop their defenses and take off their masks. Keeping with our office theme, if you did get passed over for the promotion and the corner office, you should feel free to share your disappointment with your significant other. True romance means you can forego the whole stiff upper lip charade. Despite what the song preaches, it's okay to cry out loud. There's no need to keep it inside. There's no need to hide your feelings.

This leads us to some more rules.

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