The No-Socialising Guideline and Young Adult Liberation

Anna Van Heeswijk
International Liberation Reference Person for Young Adults

Teaching RC to anyone is a revolutionary act. It is giving people the tools to discharge what gets in their way of being fully alive and thinking and acting to change the world. Teaching RC to people when they are young adults is a revolutionary act.

Young people’s oppression systematically installs patterns on us that make us feel like we are too small, too stupid, and too inexperienced to make changes in the world. It robs us of power at the time in our lives when we are most easily connected to what it is to be fully alive and human; when we can most easily and automatically feel and discharge; when we understand the importance of relationships and being connected; when we wholeheartedly object to any form of unfairness, mistreatment, or being divided from one another; and when we are still excited about trying things, having fun, and making things go well. It does this to train us to fit into an oppressive society and to stop us from joining together to challenge it.

When we become young adults, and young people’s oppression is lifted from us, we are given recognised power for the first time in our lives. We are allowed to make our own decisions and to be part of making decisions for the whole of society (through voting, work, community meetings, and so on). It is an exciting time. Although we have been hurt by young people’s oppression, which has made us doubt our power, we have not yet taken on1 the adult patterns that would make us conform to and accept things as they are. Things are still new for us—we are making new decisions, trying new things, and figuring out what we want in our lives and in the world. This makes us a challenging and potentially dangerous force for the oppressive society.

 To make sure that we fit into the adult oppressive society and don’t use our new-found influence to change the world, the system comes down on us very hard. Young adults’ oppression systematically restimulates our early fears for survival by telling us that there aren’t enough jobs or partners for everyone and that our futures depend on conforming to what is expected of us and not speaking out. This sets us up2 to compete with one another and makes us vulnerable to playing out3 oppressor roles and using any privilege we have to “get ahead.” Young adults’ oppression makes us believe that as adults we have to do things on our own and that we can no longer rely on our previous support networks. It systematically divides us from our peers—as we are told that there is only one path for us to take, depending on our gender, race, class, and so on.

Having the tools of RC at this point in our lives allows us to discharge the hurts from young people’s and young adults’ oppression so that we can keep finding new ways to unite with each other, live the lives we want to live, and challenge the oppressive system rather than try to fit into it. This is revolutionary.


The relationships we are able to build with one another through exchanging discharge time, sharing our minds, and re-evaluating together are central to everything we do as RC Community members and leaders. At this time in history, with the level of hurt we carry in relation to closeness, the guideline on socialising4 is vital to safeguarding and allowing us to build these relationships.

The no-socialising guideline does not mean that we shouldn’t fall in love with our Co-Counsellors. It is very human to love other humans. The guideline provides a framework so that we can discharge all of the frozen longings and other feelings that we experience as or attach to “falling in love.” It stops us from acting out our feelings in one of the narrow ways that society says we should act them out.

Discharging the frozen longings that we attach to people in the present, and the embarrassment that can come up when we allow ourselves to like somebody, allows us to get better at building close and loving relationships in all areas of our lives, including with our Co-Counsellors.

As young adults we haven’t been as worn down as many older adults have been by the oppressive society and the pressure to conform. It can be easier for us to remember the importance of relationships and being close, to be joyful and playful, and to enjoy showing ourselves and being interested in other people. However, young adults’ oppression can make us feel lonely. We are isolated and told that now, as adults, we have to figure out our lives on our own, that it is immature to want to play with our friends, and that the only way we are allowed to be close is by pursuing one romantic relationship. We are pressured to find and settle down with that one “special person” and are often made to feel like failures if we don’t. (This one “special person” is supposed to be somebody of the opposite sex. The Gay oppression aimed at people who do not identify as heterosexual and refuse to fit into this “norm”5 is harsh.) The pressure to find our “special person,” along with the loneliness, frozen needs,6 and other hurts related to closeness can leave us feeling desperate about relationships.

We need to be able to build solid, close Co-Counselling relationships with one another so that we can discharge the hurts and confusions. To be able to do this, it is important that we rigorously uphold the no-socialising guideline and not give in7 to the internalised oppression that could make us want to be liberal about it. There is safety to discharge the loneliness, desperation, frozen needs, and “crushes”8 precisely because we agree to discharge the feelings rather than act on them.


The “blue pages” provide safety for all of us to work on our distresses. Because of the way sexism operates, they are especially important in challenging the sexism that can lead males to act out on females their frozen needs and “crushes.”

In our societies, we young and young-adult women are targeted as being the ultimate “objects of desire.” Our bodies are sexualised in advertising, the media, and the sex industries. Males of all ages are manipulated into being fascinated by and attracted to young and young-adult women in ways that are driven by sexist distress. “Falling in love” feelings and “crushes” are affected by this dynamic of sexism— another reason to discharge rather than act on any “romantic” feelings, and to do this in separate women’s and men’s groups.


The no-socialising guideline is also important in challenging individualism—challenging the ways we are manipulated into thinking that to ensure our own survival we have to “look out for ourselves” above others. This is a central part of capitalism—the drive to have more and more for oneself.

Young adults of our generation have grown up in a time when neo-liberalism (the belief system that goes with modern global capitalism) has been systematically enforced on societies across the world by means of global class systems and imperialism. Our experience of this—whether or not we have been exposed to alternative perspectives or have witnessed or been part of a struggle of opposition—will depend on various factors, including our class background and whether we live in an imperialist country or a country that has been or is being colonised. But we have all been affected by the messages of neo-liberalism. Part of our liberation as young adults is to discharge all the ways these messages have been internalised and have left us vulnerable to being manipulated into acting out patterns of individualism and greed. The “blue pages” provide a useful context for doing this. They give us an opportunity to decide to put the well being of the RC Communities and the RC project above any pull to pursue what might feel like an “ideal” relationship.

Of course, we know that there is no real conflict between our own well being and the well being of every other human. We know that our personal lives go better when the RC Communities are strong, flourishing, and robust and that discharging any longings we attach to our Co-Counsellors is way more re-emergent than pursuing a romantic relationship. And, we get to discharge something important when we decide that even in the midst of restimulation, even when we really “believe” that our lives would go better if only we could have a “blue pages” relationship, we will still put the well being of the Community above pursuing a personal desire (distress pattern). This is revolutionary for ourselves, and creates and supports a robust Community. It provides a route to discharging all of the places where our isolation and discouragement leave us vulnerable to being manipulated by the oppressive society and settling for small lives. It allows us to keep our minds on wanting big changes for everyone and wanting to be part of a movement committed to changing the world. This is what young adults’ liberation, and all forms of human liberation, are about. Using the no-socialising guideline in this context is exciting. It makes it possible for us to build the relationships, and provides the conditions for discharge, that will allow us to make real change.

Young adults: What have been your experiences of working on, teaching about, or handling issues related to the no-socialising guideline? And how have you found the guideline useful in your re-emergence and in building the young adults Community?

London, England
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of young adults

1 In this context, taken on means assumed.
2 Sets us up means predisposes us.
3 Playing out means acting out.
4 The no-socializing policy of the RC Communities states that Co-Counselors should not set up any relationships, other than Co-Counseling, with other Co-Counselors or with people whom they first meet in a Co-Counseling context. In the early Fundamentals of Co-Counseling Manual, this policy was written on blue pages. That is why it is sometimes referred to as the “blue pages.”
5 “Norm” means normal behavior.
6 Frozen need is a term used in RC for a hurt that results when a rational need is not met in childhood. The hurt compels a person to keep trying to fill the need in the present, but the frozen need cannot be filled; it can only be discharged.
7 Give in means succumb.
8 A “crush” is an infatuation.

Last modified: 2014-10-06 23:29:00+00