The Universal Barriers That Affect All Relationships

Essay, Research Paper

The Universal Barriers That Affect All


Since the beginning of mankind, sexual relationships between people have always been and always will be crucial to the continuance of humanity. This idea applies to everyone, no matter what race you are or what your sexual preference is. But with every start of a relationship, there have always been issues that surround us in how we are to go forward with starting these relationships. And with these issues, there are barriers. Barriers that stop us from saying how we feel, how we act, how we feel about ourselves.

Barriers can either be externally or internally, and these barriers stop us from forming relationships with people we feel attracted to. An example of one of these barriers would be physical unattractiveness. It is stated that barriers affect all people from all over the world. Attractiveness is a physical trait that all people from all walks of life view as an important part of the initiation process of a relationship. Various countries and cultures have their own scales of what is important to their society in sexuality and relationships. For example, coming from a Chinese background, females are to be passive and never to be the initiator in a relationship, therefore always having Chinese women perceived as being passive and shy. Whereas in America, it is not such of a big issue for a woman in our society to make a “first move” and ask a man out. Despite all the issues that we have surrounding barriers, barriers are a part of life and affect everyone, regardless of your race, gender, sexual preference, or society. The four most common barriers that people face day in, and day out. The four most common barriers that we encounter are physical unattractiveness, fear of rejection, shyness and traditional sex roles as stated in “Sex and Relationships” by John P. Elia. These barriers are universal. To support my argument, I

will explain the concepts of these barriers and how they affect the decisions of our daily lives.

The first barrier I will address and feel is the first and foremost important barrier of all is Physical Unattractiveness. This is the number one external barrier that the majority of all people put on their list when looking for a mate. With all of the media and Hollywood showing us what the perfect body is, what beauty is suppose to look like, and that beauty is the number one thing in the world. People stress that physical attractiveness is the most important thing in a relationship. Do not get me wrong, initial physical attractiveness is what basically motivates people to initiate a “first move” because of the attraction they feel toward this person. If we do not find this person attractive, then it is more likely that a platonic friendship would start between these two individuals. But what if the situation was reversed, and it was we who was being perceived as unattractive. This would certainly lower our self-esteem and cause us to be

afraid to initiate or approach individuals we find attractive. This notion does not matter if you are heterosexual or homosexual, it applies to all

The second most important barrier is Fear of Rejection. People who are subject to this barrier, which is the majority of us, are afraid to build up the confidence and the nerve to approach an individual, and then have it “shot down”. This is an unpleasant feeling which “can lower self-esteem and lead to embarrassment in front of others” according to Kiesler & Baral, Krebs & Adinolfi, and Reis (pg 33). Therefore, due to these factors, the formation of sexual relationships according to Huston, Shanteau, and Nagy (pg 33), “People are not likely to choose as potential dates those who they think are unlikely to accept their offer”. This issue holds true and applies to people all walks of life. Pertaining to my own personal experience, I have always been afraid of rejection,

and it has always seemed to hold me back from initiating the “first moves” to people I felt attracted to. From this point, I know rejection is inevitable and that I should just get over it and make the “first move”, because I would not want to live my life thinking “what if?

In association with Fear of Rejection is the third barrier, Shyness. “Both shyness and fear of rejection can be considered aspects of a general feeling of inadequacy regarding intimate relationships”. (pg 34) Shyness has been defined as “the general tendency to be inhibited and awkward in social situations and to experience unpleasant affect in the presence of others”, Cheek & Busch (pg 34). Based on personal experience, I have always been shy around people I am not to familiar with. I tend to just sit there and not be very talkative. Shyness is based on social situations, which involves feelings of apprehension and nervousness, and feelings of being safe and secure. Others typically overly concern shy individuals with their evaluation and acceptance, so they do not engage in any acts that can be evaluated by others. This barrier is universal because people of all races and cultures have their own definition of conduct and mannerisms on how they are suppose to act. I am a very shy individual because of the culture that I have been brought up in. I have been brought up a culture where Asian people have been known to passive and shy. Asian people are not known for voicing their issues and concerns. It has just been recently that I have started to overcome my fear of being shy and noticing that I can be talkative and outgoing when I feel comfortable around my surroundings

The final barrier in question are the traditional sex roles. Throughout time, men and women have always had a set the standard roles for each other. Women are traditionally seen as “submissive, passive, non-sexual, non-athletic, warm, nurturant”, and dependant. Men on the other hand have always been expected to be the “aggressive, competitive, in control, sexual, dominant, athletic, strong, and independent”. Because of

these set ideals that were passed down from generation to generation, society to society, there has been a stigmata on how men and women are supposed to act. The masculine person of a heterosexual or homosexual relationship has always been the person perceived to ask the person out, pay for expenses, and do the courting. The problem with this is that feminine potential partners are then to believe that they are to just stand around and wait for their masculine potential partners because society does not believe they should ask people out, or pay, or court. This issue can cause a lot of potential relationships to subside due to sex roles we are to follow.

In conclusion, the four barriers discussed above all correspond with each other and directly correlates to one another. Barriers are felt throughout the entire world no matter what race, sexual preference, or gender you are. Physical unattractiveness is universal because all societies put a great deal of emphasis of beauty. Fear of Rejection and Shyness happens everywhere and it has nothing to do with sexual preference or race. It has to deal with the fact that people fear rejection because they are afraid of being hurt and are shy because they feel people are always evaluating their actions. The traditional sex roles are universal because all people are subject to a masculine and feminine role. Heterosexual and Homosexual relationships go through all the same barriers, whether its physical attractiveness, shyness, fear of rejection, or sex roles. These sexual barriers are universal and are only separated by opposite sex or same sex.