I believe that it is important to build up an atmosphere where it is okay to say “no” or to disagree or to admit a failure.
If there is a threat of punishment, then it reduces the chances that open and honest communication will occur.
This is another reason why I dislike imposing rules on a relationship. I think that they actually encourage lying.
I believe that it is better to encourage open communication and embrace mistakes and disagreements.
If we are able to show and express our true selves without recriminations, then we are more likely to do so. If we are able to be curious and experiment without put-downs, then we are more likely to expand our experiences and horizons. If we are able to try and not be punished for making mistakes or failing, then we are more likely to learn.
I find that accepting these differences and learning to move on to be a very important social skill in any setting but especially in close relationships.
This is very much in contrast with society at large. At schools, in business, in sports:
We have it drilled in to us from a very young age to avoid mistakes… but mistake avoidance leads to fear of change. Change is risky. A change might not work and somehow this chance of failure usually outweighs the chance of success – at least in people’s minds.
We have it drilled in to us to follow the crowd, to follow the rules (that no-one remembers who or why they were created), to do as we are told (accept and be subordinate to hierarchy)… but to do so suppresses our self-expression.
I have seen this often in another context – in business, where employees are unwilling to attempt changes even if others in other companies have already successfully implemented the same changes and the advantages are well known and understood.
I think that this is in itself dangerous because it leads to stagnation and breeds complacency. In an atmosphere where failure is not accepted as part of the process, it becomes difficult to admit failure. Rules, by their very nature must have a consequence for breaking them, otherwise they are powerless. This is the stick used to threaten punishment and thus keep people to obeying the rules. People don’t like to be punished, so if a rule is broken, quite often, as much as possible, it is hidden or the blame is pushed on to another.
It is hard to trust someone who hides mistakes and who passes the buck… but if the atmosphere is not conducive to admitting failure, then I find it hard to judge that the person is untrustworthy. I take in to account that the environment itself was not conducive to admitting failure.
Therefore, I try to and I will encourage others to also try to let their partners experiment, explore themselves and grow without punishing them for these attempts – no matter what the result of the attempt.