Relationships 101

Why don't we get a class....maybe in high school....where we learn how to develop relationships?  At the very least, it should be a class offered in college or a community education class.  There are some great resources out there for premarital counseling and communication breakdowns once you are marred, but what about the beginning buds of a dating relationship? I was able to attend a healthy marriages conference this past weekend.  One of the speakers was Dr. John Van Epp.  His daughter also spoke at the conference, Dr. Morgan Van Epp Cutlip.  Dr. Van Epp was introducing material that was new to me and something I found extremely helpful.  He has a book, How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, which has a charming title.  Full disclosure, I haven't read this book yet....I JUST went to the conference less than a week ago....but he presented some material that I found pretty amazing (and he said it and more were in the book).  Here are 3 super cool highlights:
  1. Love Thinks, the organization that Dr. Van Epp and Dr. Cutlip are a part of, is based on something they called the RAM Model (Relationship Attachment Model).  The RAM model has five components--KNOW, TRUST, RELY, COMMIT, and TOUCH.  These categories are not static, they grow and expand as we do.  Were you the same person you were a year ago?  I know I wasn't.  There's more to know now.
  2. Aha moment, even though it makes sense, is ideally you need to increase the level in each category before moving on....from left to right.  So we need to know someone more before we trust them.  We need to trust someone more before we rely on them....and so on.  Dr. Van Epp said we, as a culture, jump too quickly in the TRUST arena and in the TOUCH arena, which sets us up for some not so great relationships.
  3. Spending more time in the KNOW category and being slower to TRUST are crucial in the beginning of a dating relationship.  It seems going back to KNOW is also crucial in the later parts for the relationship to last.  Dr. Van Epp even gives you some categories of things to learn and gather information about  while you are getting to know someone, with a handy acronym:  FACES.  Family background and childhood dynamics; Attitudes and actions of the conscience and maturity; Compatibility potential; Examples of relationship patters; and Strength of relationship skills.
Go check out their website or get his book to learn more.  It was such a nice package of information that I wish more folks had when they are building relationships!!  I imagine I will likely write more as I read his book and enjoy the resources on their website :)

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