Mar 12, 2010

3 Relationship Tools

In my opinion, there are three classes of things worth learning about in order to enjoy positive interpersonal relationships. Maybe I will add more over time as I discover them.

1. Individual psychological differences.
Example: Socionics
Innate individual differences are vast and can potentially take a lifetime of study to grasp, but it makes sense to at least familiarize oneself with a system of psychological types such as socionics. No concept of interpersonal relationships can be complete without an appreciation of personality and how it affects, even determines, our interactions.

2. Gender differences.
Example: John Gray's books (Men, Women, and Relationships; Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus)
Personality typologies tend not to describe gender differences at all, yet these psychological differences affect the dynamics of any inter-gender relationship regardless of the personality types involved. Gender differences are the easiest of the three categories to understand and apply because there are only two basic types to learn, and type identification is no problem!

3. Personal development.
Example: Stephen Covey's books (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and others)
Once we understand some or most of the deterministic factors affecting our relationships, it would be a mistake to stop there and decide that nothing can be done to influence interactions one way or another, since all is determined. There is still the art of life to learn. This is the realm of personal religion, mythology, or spirituality, which can never be replaced by science.

The examples I give are just samples of some of the routes available to learn about each particular category. As the most subjective of the three, "personal development" has the greatest number of possible routes. I find Stephen Covey's approach to be particularly comprehensive and understandable to the western mind, but one could just as easily find guidance for personal development in Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, neopaganism, the writings of Joseph Campbell, Osho, Krishnamurti, etc. etc.

As I've studied each of these three areas, I've been astonished at how they ignore the others or mention them only in passing. For instance, socionics has nothing to say about how the psychology of a female SLI differs from a male SLI, though the differences are hardly trivial in the context of "dualization." John Gray's otherwise excellent writings say next to nothing about the importance of choosing the right partner to begin with; he focuses only on living with the partner after the choice has been made. Likewise Stephen Covey, who talks about all the synergy and intimacy that he and his wife share, while ignoring the fact that he obviously made a very wise choice to begin with. If there were serious compatibility issues between him and his wife, all the "personal development" in the world would still not be able to produce the same results as with a more compatible partner.

In other words, existing knowledge in each of these three areas tends to have significant shortcomings. Taking only one class of knowledge as your ultimate guide on the subject of relationships can lead to naivete and disappointment when the tools don't always work -- for reasons you are unable to discern because you lack knowledge of other important aspects.

6 comments:

darrenchappell said...

Great post Rick. Since you mentioned it, how would you say the psychology of a female SLI differs from a male SLI ? I for the life of me cannot recognize SLI women even though Im sure they are all around me. Thanks
T

Rick said...

Well, male SLIs are usually more focused on professional realization and work. Female SLIs are more focused on relationships and self-development. Males tend to be more interested in politics and express categorical viewpoints, while females are more interested in networks of families and friends. Female SLIs tend to come across as more open, accepting, and maternalistic, while males are more often focused on their own interests and activities and are "maternalistic" only if you become a close friend or business partner.

Basically, it comes down to the different hormone levels and their effects on male and female personality. With their testosterone, male SLIs have more aggressivity and need to keep their distance from others. They have more difficulty being emotionally intimate and are more interested in the competitive spheres of work and politics. With their estrogen, female SLIs are more imaginative and able to relate to people and seem to more often get burned in relationships because they are too open and intimate. At the same time, they tend to be more attentive friends.

dc said...

Thanks. Thats good to know, but it also explains why I have trouble determining them. They have much of the general qualities of women of other types. Is there anything that makes them stand out in particular? Y'know facial features, body type, style of dress, voice, movement.....?

Anonymous said...

start talking with women you find attractive and eventually you'll find one. you'll notice when you're talking to one because they can be experienced as a another version of yourself (from your point of view that is, >not theirs<). if you go into a room of people and your eyes get stuck on a person for a few seconds, but you don't find her that special first she's probably SLI. that's how i find female SLIs anyways, just use your instincts on this one because i can't tell anything special about them visually at a distance from anyone else. If your eyes get stuck on them for some reason, go try the vibe.

dc said...

Interesting....... I'll give it a try. Thanks

Anonymous said...

gender is everything, as they say. nice article rick.