In hopes to help students have a better understanding of relationships, Communications 101/102 instructor Henry Castillo has started the semester with a romantic relationships unit.
“Our first unit, focuses on how we communicate at the beginning, middle and end [termination] of those relationships,” Castillo said. “The way we communicate to a potential partner is often influenced by gender roles, culture, self-perception, sexual orientation and a myriad of other external factors.”
The first lesson of the unit was the ‘Perfect Partner’ lesson. The lesson presented students with a series of questions that would help them shape their preferences of their ‘ideal’ romantic partner.
“One of the main things that I think is important to look for in a partner is their education level because I want someone that is dedicated and hardworking,” senior Stephen Bingham said. “I would also like them to be able to drive and just be financially stable.”
Examples of characteristics and requirements students had for their ideal significant other also included height, build, education and political views.
“Participants in past studies have reported that the person they end up marrying reflect little to no characteristics of what they considered their ‘perfect partner’,” Castillo said. “Our expectations [of others] ought not to be fixed, extremely high or extremely low.”
After individually identifying their preferences, students had to negotiate with others on what ‘perfect’ meant to them.
“I think that this [lesson] will be difficult because everyone has their own desires and needs which influence what they look for in a person,” senior Shashini Balamurugan said. “Basic traits like honesty and [humor] will be easy to agree on, but when it gets to other characteristics, it will be more difficult.
In groups, they drew out the ‘perfect’ features and traits on a butcher paper. When finished, students were able to see what other groups decided on.
“I hope that by tearing up the papers on which students drew their ideal partners on, they will reject the tendency to require unrealistic expectations from their current or future romantic partners,” Castillo said. “The takeaway message: tear apart your expectations or they will have you tearing your hair out as you wonder why you’re single.”
This lesson helps relate back to the overall relationships unit by addressing expectations and identity.
“Who we present ourselves will intrinsically impact the way we communicate to others in romantic relationships,” Castillo said. “Thus, this lesson pursues two important goals of COM 102: Communication, competence and relational satisfaction.”