In our world, there are a lot of relationship myths. These are misguided (though perhaps well-intentioned) ideas about love and relationships that our society has grown to accept as truth, spouting them to the next generations as given facts of romantic wisdom. The cycle of these love lies continues on and on, reflected in popular culture and the media.
I’m here to tell you that many of the ideas about relationships out there are absolute crap.
These types of relationship myths can be highly damaging because they are ideas that don’t match up with real people and their real feelings. They are lofty “ideals” that rarely apply in real situations.
For instance, let’s start with one of the most pervasive: soulmates.
There’s a revolving idea that each person has one other person they are destined to be with, often called a soulmate.
Is there just one person for you? Nope. There are a great many potential partners for you out there, and the possibility for you to choose (and have a happy relationship with) any one of them.
We are in charge of our own paths and destinies. And truth be told, the idea of there being just one person that is your romantic destiny creates unrealistic expectations about partnerships, not to mention generating fear and anxiety about never finding “the one.” More on this later.
I’m especially passionate about debunking ideas surrounding relationship anxiety. Anxiety of this nature is very real and painful, but it is often brushed off with catch-all statements like “doubt means don’t” or “relationships should be easy.”
So you begin to think you always have to be 100% certain and 100% happy for your relationship to be “right.”
Nope, guys. That’s some bad advice there, and we’re going to weed through it.
Ready? Put on your practical hats cause we’re ’bout to get rational.
1. THERE’S ONE PERSON FOR EVERYONE.
Perhaps the most irritating relationship lie on the market is that there is one person out there for all of us. One person?! Out of billions?! Hell no, y’all.
Nathan and I feel incredibly blessed that we found each other… but not because we are soulmates. While we each feel so lucky to have found another amazing person, we’re not denying that there are other people out there whom we would have been compatible and even happy with. Of course, we don’t like to think of those people, now that we’re together… but the point is, there are many other awesome humans that you could build a relationship and a life with.
Personally. I feel this idea should be a relief. It takes the pressure off, doesn’t it? In our modern world, dating is hard enough; imagine if you had to hold out for that single soul that matched yours. The prospect would be quite overwhelming.
Instead, look for someone who makes you better, who encourages you to to meet your own destiny and your own potential and become the best version of yourself. Find a partner who challenges you, believes in you, and is willing to work to create a solid, lasting future with you.
It may not be destiny, but it’s two people consciously choosing to build a foundation of love and commitment. Isn’t that way more awesome?
2. DOUBT MEANS DON’T.
Have some nagging doubts about your relationship? While listening to your gut is valuable and legit, there’s also the real possibility that there are other issues at play.
First, we need to distinguish normal worries or anxiety from genuine red flags. Basically, red flags center around abuse, addiction, and other ‘irreconcilable differences.” Read more on the major relationship red flags here.
But other anxieties are often just intrusive thoughts that are coming from a deeper fear within. For instance, you might have a fear such as, “What if I’m settling?” Conventional relationship advice might say, if you feel doubt, get out!
But I believe this is far from the truth. I believe a thought like that is simply a starting place for investigating your fears and your feelings. It’s time to look deeper within and find out what the anxiety is all about. What does settling mean anyway? What’s my real, core fear?
This leads me to another, similar relationship myth:
3. YOU NEED TO BE “100% SURE” WHEN YOU GET MARRIED.
Oh gosh, no. Who among us is ever 100% sure about anything? There’s this idea that cold feet are a sign of a problem or that having doubt during your engagement means you shouldn’t get married, but most often, these hesitations and nerves are actually 100% okay.
Making a commitment like marriage is huge. Why wouldn’t it cause you some anxiety? It’s a life-altering, role-shifting, forever-and-ever proposition. Yikes! (Okay, not trying to scare you out of it. Marriage is awesome, I promise!) But the point is that being 100% sure is not at all required to get married. And you should know you’re in the majority if you feel, say, 70% ready before you hit the aisle. Doubt doesn’t always mean don’t.
4. YOU NEED TO ALWAYS FEEL “A SPARK.”
This is a tough one. We all want to feel love and feel loved. But love and excitement are different things. Love, as it grows, deepens and expands. While the early days of a relationship might involve more fluttery hearts and breathless anticipation, those heartbeats eventually slow down, and you catch your breath once more. The love deepens, but it doesn’t go away.
The key is recognizing the difference. Many people panic when they stop feeling that “spark,” not sensing that it has been replaced by a more profound and more lasting version of love and affection. You can reignite that spark over and over, but there’s no doubt that love changes and grows with us. We must embrace these changes if we want to experience the depth of a long-lasting relationship.
If we continually search for emotional excitement and novelty, we’ll never get to go the distance with someone, and I believe we’re likely to miss out on the best parts of a romantic partnership.
5. YOU NEED TO HAVE TONS OF SEX TO HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP.
This idea has no doubt arisen from society’s overemphasis on sex. You might not agree with me on this point, but I definitely think there’s some misinformation about the importance of the role sex plays in our lives. Porn has perpetuated this (not to mention created some pretty insane expectations about orgasms, men’s sexual prowess, and what women like in bed, just to name a few issues).
Is sex important? Yes.
Is sex important in a romantic relationship? Yes, absolutely.
Can you have a good relationship without lots of sex? Of course.
Sexual needs are going to vary from person to person and relationship to relationship. It’s good to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for sex. (This seems like a good place to make a joke, but moving on…)
Instead, work with your partner to discover one another’s unique sexual needs and desires. Your sex life will be unique to you two, and what matters is your mutual satisfaction… no external parameters.
6. FIGHTING IS A SIGN OF A DOOMED RELATIONSHIP.
Most people today realize that some conflict and disagreement is not only normal but is downright healthy.
This isn’t to say that knock-down-drag-out brawls are indicative of a passionate, happy love story. Rather, it’s about the balance and about ensuring that your conflicts are safe, healthy, and ultimately productive.
The key is fighting fair and fighting right.
This article from the New York Times dates back to 1989, but the truth is very much evident even 30 years on:
“The most fruitful fights… were those in which the partners felt free to be angry with each other, felt they made themselves understood to their partner, and finally came to a resolution involving some degree of compromise. Such fights… give a couple the strong sense that they can weather conflict together.”
It’s worth investing time to learn how to manage conflict productively. Don’t shy away from arguments, but instead turn them into a tool for building a better relationship.