Viral Grade 8 ‘relationship contract’ offers laughs — and lessons
June 20 2016
By Jonathan Forani
The middle school contract, which went viral on Twitter, includes conditions like “you can’t hug these hoes.”
Puppy love has never had so much bite — or this many provisions.
“You can’t hug these hoes,” reads an apparent relationship contract between two 8th graders that went viral online earlier this month.
“You have to buy me food,” reads another stipulation. And: “You can’t break my heart because if you break my heart I will break your face.”
Twitter user @maxlinsky posted the photo June 10, writing that the paper was found on the floor after class in a middle school. Oh, and “(He signed it).”
Though the nine-clause contract may sound extreme — “You can’t break up with me I break up with you” — some relationship experts say there’s actually a lot that adult couples can glean from the Grade 8 legalese in the young lovers’ contract: lessons about respect, communication, finances, conflict, intimacy and infidelity.
“I think it’s actually super smart. This is a confident little girl who knows exactly what she wants and wants to protect herself,” says Toronto psychologist and relationship expert Nicole McCance, who hasn’t worked with any of her clients on a contract quite like this. She does know couples who have written more generalized “relationship visions”, in which they agree on mutual goals for the relationship with phrases like “We commit to being flexible and compromising.”
Written or not, communication about what each person expects from the other is key in any relationship, agrees Toronto couples counsellor Kimberly Moffit.
“People aren’t mind readers, we’re not psychics, we’re not magicians,” she says. “The most successful couples set clear guidelines and expectations.”
If a relationship contract is formed at the beginning of a relationship, it’s important to continue revisiting it at subsequent stages, such as when a couple moves in together, or as frequently as every six months, suggests McCance. Couples tend to be “yes people” during the early stages of a relationship. One person’s agreement at the outset to a clause addressing monogamy, for example, may change as the relationship develops.
“The honeymoon phase is all about impressing,” she says. “Like a performance review with your boss, pull out the old contract and go over how things are going.”
While comical and arguably extreme, the guidelines and expectations set out by the unnamed 8th grader serve as a good starting point for adult couples who can learn something from each of the nine conditions, say Moffit and McCance.
The Star went through each point with the experts to decipher the middle-school logic.
“You cannot talk hoes.”
“It sounds like talking about women in a disrespectful way is something that that person doesn’t want,” says Moffit. “Outlining your expectations about the kinds of respect you want to be treated with in the relationship is important.”
If one person is uncomfortable with their partner talking to other people, it should be discussed. “Don’t invest more time with other women than you would your partner,” says McCance.
“You have to talk to me all the time.”
“Make communication with your partner a priority,” says McCance.
It is important for couples to discuss how often they will be in contact, agrees Moffit. Communication in the digital age has complicated relationships. “I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve worked with people who get upset their partner hasn’t responded to a text,” she says.
“You have to give me a lot of hugs.”
This 8th-grader condition clearly addresses intimacy. “Talking about how often you need and want intimacy and talking about what your partner expects in that department is important,” says Moffit. “You don’t have to do this on day one, but at some point figure out what the happy balance is between the two of you.”
“You have to buy me food.”
This stipulation is about more than middle school lunch money. “It’s about setting expectations about who is going to pay for stuff,” says Moffit, noting that the expectation that the man in a heterosexual relationship will pay more than the woman still exists today.
McCance has a slightly different interpretation. “Taking care of your partner’s needs is important to having them feel loved,” she says. “They will likely reciprocate this and want to give more to you.”
“You can’t break my heart because if you break my heart I will break your face.”
“Physical violence is not a good way to solve conflict,” concedes Moffit. But “heartbreak is more than a breakup,” she says. “Usually that person had done something to them that causes that heartbreak,” from cheating to a text-message breakup. With this clause of the contract, we can learn that ending a relationship can be done in a respectful way.
“You can’t break up with me I break up with you, if we have problems we will resolve them.”
“You can’t force people to be in relationships,” says Moffit, but the second part of this condition is similar to the relationship mantra “never go to bed angry.” Face the conflict and resolve it together.
McCance agrees. “Committing to staying together through the ups and downs is the first step to lasting love,” she says.
“You can’t hug these hoes / You can fist bump these hoes that’s it. / You can’t be looking at these hoes.”
Where our anonymous 8th grader thinks her partner has crossed a line, another couple might be within their personal code of conduct. “This speaks to the uniqueness of every relationship,” says Moffit of the final three stipulations. She gives an adult example: “You can go to the bachelor party but you can’t get a lap dance.”
Fill out my online form.