Rewriting the rules of relationships with Meg John Barker

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I want to comment on and introduce the book by Dr Meg John Barker, Rewriting the Rules:  An integrative guide to love, sex and relationships.

If there is ONE book about modern relationships I can recommend very highly, it it this. Barker is a psychotherapist and lecturer in psychology. She worked on this book for a long time (almost 10 years perhaps), and it represents her best and most original mature thinking.

The book tries to take into account the fully-fledged ost-modern character of relationships in the 21st century. It considers that most people nowadays live in a state of uncertainty about relationships. Perhaps this echoes the opening by Lyotard of post-modern thinking in 1979, which he put in the somewhat sophisticated terms of a universal "incredulity towards meta-narratives [métarécits]". In practical terms this meant nothing else than that "everything has become uncertain". 

Barker explains that there is an inevitable tension when we are in relationship of being separate people as well as together. She tries to help - although this is a self-confessed anti-self-help book. She states that what many people believe are missing are rules, that they are often trying to grab hold of anything in search of the missing feeling of security, and that this means a great longing for either the old rules, or for new rules.

Barker recommends a different way out. The thesis of her book is that it is possible to "rewrite the rules", to own these new self-made rules, and to feel flexible and empowered to take these rules lightly and continuously open to further change.

There is way too much in the book than that I could remotely summarise it here. Barker systematically reviews what can be done about reviewing the rules n a number of areas, all with applicability to relationships.  She starts with rules for the self, as it is YOU who is in relationship. She covers the big areas of attraction, love, sex, and gender. Then there are specific chapters on the more narrowly problematic areas of monogamy, conflict, break-up, and finally commitment.

I believe that most people who today, in the second decade of the 21st century, are in relationships with other people (and I hope that is more or less everyone!), would benefit from reading and studying this book and from working through its suggested exercises.

If the book got you interested in Meg John Barker, you can follow her blog and find more resources on her website, rewritingtherules .