Just Say No to the Golden Rule

December 6, 2014
Golden Rule Dating

Growing up, any time I would venture to step out of line and show signs of childlike selfishness, unkindness or lack of empathy, my parents would offer a stern look and a three-word reminder. Their words, “do unto others,” while innocent to the outside listener, always had an ominous tone that warned of punishments if I failed to quickly get my act together. As I got older, I heard similar phrases from trusted advisors, teachers, and community leaders. The sentiment soon etched in my brain and settled in my heart. Then something happened, decades passed and I grew up. I formed long-lasting friendships, stumbled through dating, said goodbye to loved ones and traveled across the world. I started paying close attention to the effectiveness of the Golden Rule in ruling my days, nights, and relationships. What I discovered left me wondering if the innocent and meaning-filled sentiment should be re-worded for modern times. When it comes to relationships, should we revise the Golden Rule?

Don’t treat me like you, treat me better than you!

The Golden Rule instructs us to treat others based on how we want to be treated. Do you see the problem? This assumes however I’d want to be treated is the good and best way. So much so, that I should use it as a guide for how I treat everyone else. Yeah, see, no. Life has taught me people have their own criteria for how they want to be treated regardless of what I may deem appropriate or acceptable for myself. Let’s try something instead like, Do unto others as they would like to have done to them. Not as poetic but will probably reduce arguments and confusion. Plus, there is a major reason the current rule just doesn’t work – too many of us allow mistreatment.

 We Often Allow Others to Mistreat Us 

Truthfully, we are notoriously bad at determining what’s best for us. Our track record of complicated, emotionally-draining, unstable relationships speaks volumes to our judgment. Our innate desire for affection and companionship cause us to create long-term connections with short-term people. In most situations we lead with our hearts and rationalize with our heads. The Golden Rule doesn’t consider this faulty human characteristic. It assumes we make logical, intelligent decisions in the treatment we want and are willing to accept. The sentiment assumes we have a clear understanding of our needs in matters of love. Wrong. Generally, we suffer and struggle under the weight of mistreatment and it’s largely authorized by us. We can say we demand respect, care and understanding but if we’ve grown comfortable accepting divisive, demeaning, disrespectful relationships, do we truly know how to be treated?

We Often Mistreat Ourselves

Confucius said,” Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” The data shows what we’ve chosen and it ain’t looking so good. With fewer than half of American workers satisfied with their jobs in 2013, according to a survey from the Conference Board, we aren’t creating happy lives for ourselves. We don’t take enough vacations, we prioritize work over family, we grapple with feelings of inadequacy, we say yes when we should say no, and too often we leave this world with mounds of regrets. We’ve accumulated personal resumes filled with ill-thought decisions, regrettable do-overs and misguided choices. Do you really want to date someone that uses this as a barometer for how they will treat you?


So again, should we revise the Golden Rule? If so, what would YOUR new rule be? Post your comments below!


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