Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Why Are Women's Magazines Promoting Unhealthy Relationships?

Is Cosmo leading women to destruction?

Women should expect to at least receive empowering common sense advice from their own magazines. Yet Cosmopolitan Magazine has proclaimed that "along with not wearing white after Labor Day and waiting for a guy to ask you out, you can add 'Don't have sex on the first date' to the list of rules that are now considered one hundred percent outdated." Who cares if the stranger you sleep with is a stalker, longs for the good old days of the Soviet Union, has every sexually transmitted disease in the book, is an ex-con, or lives with his mother? Why get to know him first? You need to live!

Cosmo isn't the only women's magazine foisting up chocolate covered poison to their female readers. Marie Claire trumpeted in a series on "Love at First Sight" how each woman who engaged in an impulsive relationship based on physical attraction and charm believed it would work for them, even if it went against all objective reason. Sadly, women writers and editors are promoting a philosophy that these mirage relationships are romantic and heroic, like living out a Harlequin novel. So what if they ultimately fail—you are dating and mating boldly and recklessly!

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Unfortunately for Cosmo and Marie Claire, binding men and women together in marriages and cohabitations who wouldn't otherwise be friends is destructive. Often all these couples share in common is a name, an address or children.These are the shallowest of shallow relationships. These flimsy unions are not the place to raise children who, according to social science research, do best when they have two parents present in the home who love each other and are committed to the family. Yet the women writers and editors have come to accept that these mirage unions are the best that can be expected in this world.

Many women and men ask what is wrong with our current method of modern love that provides companionship, however mismatched, between consenting adults. If one endorses the mail order business of importing women from Russia and the Phillipines to be your instant bride, or the use of a sperm bank in lieu of a husband, then there is nothing wrong with the advice of Cosmo and Marie Claire either. But historically courtship and marriage had evolved in the early twentieth century from the enslaving patriarchal model to the enlightened companionate model so that both men and women could become personally fulfilled within a heterosexual relationship.

There was great hope we had evolved to a higher standard of heterosexual relationships. Instead we are ending up with strangers for mates in marriages and cohabitations that have no permanence, no concern with dynastic progression, and no commitment to the economic success of the family unit. At least with the patriarchal system the woman had a steady mate for life who would financially provide for her family and provide guidance to their shared children as an important male role model. Today millions of couples are dissolving their unions once either partner becomes disillusioned with the romantic relationship and the children are often the biggest losers, growing up in a tenuous household  that is often formed and reformed as partners drop in and out. It's sad that women's magazines have learned nothing the carnage of the last century and have adopted such bankrupt values.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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