“Are all men like this?” she asked.
I got that question from a client last week. It’s tempting to make broad generalizations about a group of people. Men, women, whites, people of color, gay, straight, liberals, conservatives, gun-owners, transgender, cisgender, Astro fans, Yankee fans, it can go on and on. It seems we love nothing more than putting ourselves and others into categories so that we can form some understanding about them without having to do the hard work of getting to know them. My advice? Resist the urge to categorize, generalize, and labelize.
There’s no quicker way to be wrong than to say any version of this mad lib: “All _________ are _________.”
That’s not to say that broad strokes can’t be helpful. I like knowing and teaching what research says makes for happy relationships. However, what works you, in your life, with your partner(s) will be unique. That’s one of the reasons I love being a therapist. I take what I know, we combine it with my clients’ lived experience, and develop a plan, a relationship, a life that is uniquely theirs.
Take generalizations with a grain of salt. Get specific. Get to know individuals and their situations. Be curious instead of judgmental. You’ll be surprised what you learn.