We’ve all heard it said: men are trash and women are crazy. Every day, we hear culturally dictated stereotypes about ourselves and the people around us. Over time, we’ve maybe even trapped ourselves into believing them, and this is incredibly dangerous. Stereotypes don’t just affect your romantic relationships, they can also affect our friendships and our relationships with family members, co workers, and even strangers. Here are 8 ways these mistaken beliefs impact your interactions with others.
- They’re closing you off to some potentially amazing things. If you believe that all men are trash and all women are crazy, how are you going to put yourself out there to find love or even friendship? Stereotypes make you weary of your potential romantic interests and may affect your friendships. It’s difficult to be open to bringing someone into your life if you think they’ll hurt you in the long run.
- They’re making you expect the worst. Having preconceived notions lead us to have critical beliefs about those around us which may affect our behavior towards them. For example, I had a friend tell me about a girl he’d met on a Tinder date a few months ago. They had dinner, hooked up, and then he left. He complained to me about how she messaged him three times since. “She’s crazy,” he told me. But she wasn’t crazy; she just wanted to make sure he got home okay. She never said anything about a second date or a desire to make him commit, she was just concerned about his 50-minute drive home. His notion that all women are crazy led him to believe the worst in this woman while she had nothing but good intentions.
- They’re ruining your trust. Your phone is moved on the table. First thought? Crazy girl moved it. A man doesn’t text you back for a few days. First thought? He’s trash. These stereotypes make us jump to conclusions and ruin our trust in the people around us. The realities may be completely different. Maybe he just forgot, maybe she was straightening up. Stereotypes impact your relationships by keeping you from seeing the good and make you jump to the worst conclusions.
- They’re limiting your choices. If all men are trash, you’ll have to search pretty hard to find one that isn’t. But if you face the reality that there are a lot of really great men and women out there, it’ll be better for you in the long run. By letting go of these generalizations, you’ll open yourself up to the world of wonderful people.
- They increase your risk of depression. Yeah, I said it. Stereotypes of any kind can have significant impacts on your mental health. These societal gender expectations can lead to anxiety, depression, and isolation. Prejudices against others can cause depression. Researchers actually have a term for this: deprejuidice. Stereotypes and prejudices towards others are proven to negatively affect relationships with others and yourself. A lot of the time, when you have a prejudice towards someone else or a group of people, it’s because you have a prejudice against yourself.
- They’re impacting your behavior. Every day, we are fed messages about how we should behave and many of us follow these expectations without realizing it. However, if you’re aware of the messages that society is sending you, you can choose to accept or reject them and pave a successful path for you and your partner, your friends, and your family.
- They’re negatively impacting the way you view yourself. Stereotypes don’t just affect how you look at other people, they affect how you look at yourself. We all have many identities: our race, gender, sexuality are just a few. If you begin to believe the negative connotations that go along with these stereotypes, your self image could be tarnished. A negative self-image could lead to insecurity, anxiety, and paranoia, which is the last thing you want in a healthy relationship.
- They’re keeping you from being the best version of yourself. Men are taught by society not to share their emotions, which leads to men being less likely to seek help for mental health issues. On the other side of the coin, women are taught that they should be less aggressive. This can affect their behavior in the workplace and hinder them from speaking their minds or sharing their ideas. But both of these keep you from success. When we avoid getting help for our issues or downplay our accomplishments, we keep ourselves from achieving greatness.
Stereotypes impact more than your relationship with your partner. They change how you look at yourself, others, and the world. By challenging these stereotypes and asking, “Why do we call men trash? Why do women always get called crazy?,” can move away from them and heal our relationships with ourselves and others.