Marry, Shag, Kill: A Relationship Metaphor

What is Marry, Shag, Kill, Anyhow?

Known under several names, including “Marry, F*ck, Kill”, “Marry, Snog, Kill”, and “Marry, Kiss, Kill”, it is a game meant to rate the relative attractiveness and/or suitability of celebrities or fictional characters. Usually, one person will list three characters (say, Harry Potter, Hermione, and Ron Weasley). You would “force” choose which one you would “marry”, which you would “shag”, and which you would “kill” (or get rid of).

Umm… Who Are We Killing?

No one. The “kill” in “Marry, Shag, Kill”  doesn’t mean “kill the person” but “dump or delete from life”. In the relationship metaphor I’ve drawn, it means “kill the relationship”. 

silhoutte of two persons with explanation of marry, shag, kill metaphor

What Do You Mean By Marry?

I am not speaking of literal marriage, but of intimate friendships and partnerships. “Marry” in this sense is “trust implicitly” or “let deeply into my life. What things are you looking for in people you rely on and trust completely? Some places to start: 

  • Dependability
  • Trustworthiness
  • Honesty
  • Empathy
  • Kindness
  • Patience
  • Reciprocity
  • Supportiveness
  • Similar viewpoints on important matters
In general, you want those you let close to you to make your life better.

When they say they will do something, they will either follow through or reschedule. When you are having a bad day, they will listen, or if they can’t, they’ll work it out where they will listen later. For instance, they will have patience with your flaws. They will encourage you (usually gently) to be a better person. They will tell you that you are good enough just the way you are. Often, they will share their worries with you and trust that you can handle them. They will largely share your most important points of view on things. Where they don’t, they won’t believe things that you find repulsive or evil. 

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And “Shag”?

“Marry, Shag, Kill” is, of course, a Britishism. But “have sex with” is clunky and “f*ck” is too vulgar for my website and videos (but not for my Twitter or Facebook [grin]. So shag, in this case, doesn’t literally mean “have sex with”, but more like “have fun with” or “get things done with”. Shagging can be part of this if you like, and the other person consents (and it isn’t an inappropriate work relationship).  But the point of this category of relationships is that they are casual, and fun, and not serious, or that you work well together to get things done.

This is not the person you tell your deepest fears to, or share your traumas with. This is someone you joke with, go to movies with, play games with, and sometimes, shag. So the traits you’ll look for in people in this category in your life will be different. For instance, what traits will you look for in casual friends, co-workers, and playmates?

Here are some ideas: 
  • good sense of humor
  • enjoy some of the same things
  • basic respect for each others’ points of view
  • work well together
  • enjoy each other’s company

For the most part, people in the “shag” category will not necessarily know much about you, nor will you know much about them in terms of the very important things in your lives. You will know what they like to do in their spare time. Or you will what things they are good at (and not good at) at work. You may know what kind of touching they enjoy (if it’s an actual “shag” relationship) and that they don’t enjoy. You will probably know some of their favorite movies and books. And not necessarily a lot more. 

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What About “Kill” (The Relationship)

Those with whom you want to “kill” the relationship are going to be people who bring you down. In general, if you find yourself stressed around them, or find you don’t like yourself around them, it’s time to keep your distance. Often, “Kill” relationships (unfortunately) include relationships that you must keep in your life for one reason or another. For instance, bosses, spouses of family members or close friends, some relatives, and perhaps even professionals providing services. When this happens, “kill” the relationship means to keep the person at a distance, choose not to give them any more of your energy than you have to, and prioritize your safety (emotional and physical).

Some characteristics of “kill” relationships include people who: 
  • constantly or mostly negative people (about themselves, the world, or you).
  • believe you are fundamentally “bad” or “wrong” (not good enough).
  • have prejudices and encourage discrimination against you or people you care about (or anyone, for that matter). 
  • lie to you about things important to you. 
  • repeatedly won’t respect your boundaries after you’ve set them clearly. 
  • invalidate your feelings and experiences. 
  • are frequently intentionally or thoughtlessly cruel

Some folks in the “kill the relationship” category will have moved from “marry” or “shag” because of their behavior. On the other hand, some of them will be people you must interact with. And some you will be able to cut all contact with and save your energy for people who fit better into your life. 

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Do You Really Mean “Kill”? 

No, I do not. I mean that you end, or limit, the relationship as much as you can. Do this with your safety in mind. Might you need to get a restraining order or call law enforcement? Do that. Perhaps you need to block them on social media? That’s okay. What about “ghosting” someone you were previously in a relationship with that is no longer in the “marry” or “shag” category. That is also okay. If you find that you struggle to ignore people who make your life harder, get support from others, or build your routine in such a way that they are easier to ignore. 

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What is Your Point, Anyhow?

My point is that relationships are complicated. We need to fill our lives, as much as possible, with people who support us in becoming the best we can be, and love us when we can’t be our best. Also, we need to have fun relationships and work relationships that are easy-going and mutually satisfactory and respectful. Finally, we need to limit, as much as we can, relationships in our life that devalue our humanity or are stressful and generally negative. 

This is just an introduction to the topic of relationships. There will be (lots more) videos and audio streams and podcasts on how relationships and mental health interact, so always check the relationships tag for more if you need more.  

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Finally, I donate half of every dollar I make from videos, podcasts, and writing to my best friend, Katherine Malone.  She has a deadly heart condition and needs a heart transplant. Before she can be placed on the transplant list, she must raise $20,000 for anti-rejection drugs. Learn more here and here, and go here to donate directly to her GoFundMe. This will continue until Kathy’s heart is fully funded. After that, I will continue to donate half up to $500 per month to help her pay for her anti-rejection meds. 

A final reminder: 

You are each important and have much to teach, and much to learn.

I look forward to learning from and teaching you all. Comment below or at any of the links to start the conversation. 

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Jennifer Liles is the owner and webmistress for Jenni's Space and Responsive Mental Health Services LLC. She is dedicated to mental health and human rights for freaks, geeks, and queer folk. She uses the Jenni's Space label for places where she combines education about, advocacy for, and celebration of mental health and human rights. This information is primarily for neurodiverse people, people with mental health issues, people who are on the queer spectrum, disabled people, and Black and Indigenous and other people of color. There are also discussions for privileged people about privilege and how it intersects with human rights work.