Relationships are tricky, messy, beautiful - sometimes, all at the same time. For all of us who have grown up on a steady diet of cheesy romantic movies and lovey-dovey scenes on television dramas, we tend to hold a lot of mistaken beliefs about relationships. But what we sometimes forget is that tv and movies are fiction, not reality. What appears all fun and games on the screen actually takes a fair amount of work in reality. Let's debunk 13 myths about relationships that you may be unconsciously holding on to.
1. A great relationship should be easy
This is one of the most common misconceptions about relationships that so many of us harbor, thanks to idealized love stories, as shown to us by Hollywood. We think that if we're in a relationship with “the one”, loving them should feel effortless, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality, relationships take a lot of work. It may feel like a fairy tale during the honeymoon period of the romance. But to survive long-term, a healthy relationship needs effort and maintenance from both partners. As human beings, we're all flawed, and we all come with baggage and emotional issues. Staying together despite these issues, not to mention all the curve balls that life may throw at you every once in a while - it is not supposed to be easy or effortless. But you can be in a healthy relationship if you're both committed to putting in the work.
2. If your SO is jealous, it means they love you
Another gem from pop culture. Want to know if your partner really loves you? Simple! Just try making them jealous! If they get upset when they see you talking to someone from the opposite sex, it must mean that they really care about you.
A lifetime of movies and sitcoms has convinced us that jealousy and possessiveness are desirable qualities in your significant other. If they don’t get possessive about you around others, it must mean that they probably don’t love you. Wrong! It’s time we recognized that possessiveness and jealousy are unhealthy feelings and view them as red flags in a dysfunctional relationship. True love is built on mutual respect and trust, and a lack of these values can drive a couple apart eventually.
3. Fighting never happens in good relationships
Fights are the most unpleasant part of social interactions, and we tend to believe that great relationships are ones where the couples never fight with each other. It is a filmy idea, more than anything else. If you’re not fighting, that’s a good sign, but it may even mean that you’re keeping quiet about disagreements just to avoid conflict.
As two independent individuals with unique personalities, inevitably, you may not agree with your partner on everything. Arguments and disagreements are natural and healthy even - as long as it helps you sort out your issues. Fights can actually make your relationship stronger as they help you understand your partner's perspective. What matters is your approach to the argument and how you resolve it.
4. Marriage and babies can save relationships
Some couples who have been going through a tough time mistakenly believe that getting married might solve their problems. Marriage is a significant decision, and people sometimes take the plunge expecting that getting married will make their partner more committed.
The same goes for babies. Often couples in a bad marriage are advised to conceive in hopes that a baby can save the marriage and bring the fighting couple closer together.
The truth is that both marriage and having a baby are significant steps and need careful consideration and planning. Using either to save a relationship puts undue stress on the couple, as well as the newborn baby. The new responsibilities will only add further strain to the relationship and may even drive the couple further apart.
5. Couples in a great relationship can read each other’s minds
As fun as that might be to imagine, the truth is that most of us aren’t psychics. Expecting your partner to anticipate all your moods and needs is unfair, and a little delusional.
Sure, if you've been together long enough, you may know one another's likes and dislikes. But you cannot expect to understand how the other person is feeling at all times, why they're feeling that way, or what they might need you to do about it. In a healthy relationship, it is rational to communicate your issues with each other. If you can listen to each other and work together to resolve your problems, that is a far healthier approach.
6. Frequency of sex determines whether a relationship is good or bad
Another misconception about relationships concerns the amount of sex couples have. Yes, sex is an essential part of healthy romantic relationships. But we cannot call a relationship good or bad based on sexual activity alone.
Sexual needs vary from person to person as well as across relationships. There cannot be one standard for defining all sexual activity. It is not the number of times you have sex, but the fulfillment you get with each other that matters. A couple's sex life is intensely private and must be motivated by their mutual satisfaction, rather than parameters prescribed by society.
7. There are no secrets in a relationship
We have often heard relationship advice along the lines of “tell your partner everything, keep no secrets”. That is yet another myth that needs to be debunked.
While a healthy relationship has no space for lies and deceit, the truth is that you don't have to share every single detail and all your thoughts. For example, an incident where someone was hitting on you (but it ended innocently) does not need to be reported back to your partner in vivid detail. Or if you're not a fan of their favorite outfit - they don't need to learn that information. A few harmless secrets are fine to keep to yourself.
8. Don’t go to bed angry
Another ancient adage of marital advice: don't go to bed angry. It means you must resolve your fights before you hit the sack. But that's not always sage advice. Not all disputes need to be addressed that very night. Arguing it out may just make matters worse.
Sometimes it is better to sleep on something that can cause conflict. When you wake up rested, you can approach the issue with more calm and clarity, and work on a more constructive solution. In fact, on some days it may be more helpful to go to bed angry than to fight things out all night.
9. A good relationship is supposed to make you feel better
Anytime we're having a bad day, or are in a lousy mood, we expect that being with our partner is going to make everything better and cheer us up magically. Mood swings are normal, and it is reasonable to share what you're going through with your partner in trying to feel better.
But you need to accept that it is okay to feel sad about other parts of your life, even if you’re in a happy relationship. Single people may also sometimes feel as if a romantic partner by their side is all they need to feel better. A lesson many of us should learn - there is a life beyond love. A couple is not together just for improving each other’s moods.
10. The passion never fades when it’s true love
The early days of a relationship are marked by excitement, fluttery hearts, butterflies in your stomach, sparks flying, and passions running high. With passing time, as your love grows deeper, that “spark” seems to disappear - which is when many people hit the panic button, thinking the relationship is headed for disaster.
What we fail to realize is that a stable relationship involves much less fluttering and breathlessness. As affection deepens, our love grows stronger for each other. The spark is still there, and it can be reignited with attention and fresh energy. If you keep harping on excitement and novelty, you miss out on growing together with someone and experiencing the best of a romantic relationship.
11. Your partner should complete you
We often consider relationships as a prerequisite on a checklist for the perfect life. Our partners are supposed to “complete” us, whatever that means. But the truth is that you are already complete, and enough, as you are. Your partner does not exist to fill or fix you or cure your feelings of emptiness.
Admittedly, the right partner can be a healing influence when you're both in a loving and committed relationship. But much of that work needs to come from you. Discover and accept that you are whole as you are, and your partner is there to complement you, rather than to complete you.
12. Your partner must meet all your needs
A myth that puts an unfair amount of pressure and burden on couples is one where we believe that the right partner should be the answer to all our problems. We end up plowing our SO with the task of meeting all our needs and fulfilling every expectation.
It is an enormous ask of any one person, especially your partner. You can meet some needs for each other, but there will be different needs that you ought to take care of yourself, or through other friends, your family, your job, and your hobbies. It is easy to project our dissatisfaction with life on to our partner, expecting them to fulfill all our unmet needs. Instead of adding strain to a healthy relationship, it is more constructive to identify your needs and seek wholesome ways of understanding and tending to them.
13. You should want to be together all the time
Okay, so you’re in a happy relationship and love spending all your time with your SO. Nothing spells a happy couple like a pair of lovebirds joined at the hip, right? Well, as charming and movie-friendly as that idea sounds, it’s still just a myth.
You can learn and enjoy so much during the time you spend alone or away from your partner. Just because you're in a relationship does not mean you need to give up on your hobbies, friends, and any personal goals. You must remain your own person so you can continue to bring your unique personality to the relationship consistently. As for your love life, haven't you heard: absence makes the heart grow fonder!
Myths hold powerful control over our lives. When we let them govern the way we view and behave in our relationships, we are inviting unnecessary difficulties that keep us from being happy. Instead of struggling to conform to an external definition of the ideal relationship, it makes much more sense to tune into an authentic vision of your relationship using internal cues. A foundation built on this reality is going to make for a far healthier and happier relationship than any fantasies you could create about the perfect partner.