We humans are a strange breed. We go into relationships with the highest and strangest expectations, then, once those expectations are unmet…
…we fall off what I call the “Cupid Clouds” (which occasionally turn into Stupid Clouds). And then we say, “Oh, why do I have such terrible luck in love?”
I can’t blame us for those impossible expectations, though. Hollywood has clouded (yes, another cloud reference, and I’m not sorry about it) a lot of our ideas about love and relationships with its cheesy rom-coms.
As someone who went into marriage with all of these ideas myself, I’ve had my fair share of getting knocked back to reality.
And I’ve found out just how much these myths get in the way of real relationship progress.
So, in the spirit of saving you from all the harsh wake-up knocks I had, I’d like to share nine myths about love that you need to stop believing if you want to have a truly healthy relationship.
1) Love at first sight
Let’s start with this super idealistic concept that you can fall in love at first sight. You’re at a party, and suddenly you lock eyes with someone across the room, and you fall in love.
But is it love, really?
According to Dr. Eric Ryden in LiveScience, that initial attraction is more likely to be physical attraction and lust.
And it can be so intense that it convinces us we’ve found THE one.
Unfortunately, that intoxicating feeling doesn’t last. It does, however, have the possibility of morphing into the real kind of love when you get to know the real person behind that initial attraction.
It develops when you grow to love their mind, values, and character. That’s the kind of love that will last long after wrinkles have creased their skin and their hair has turned gray.
Even then, though, they might still not be…
2) The perfect partner
Because there’s just no such thing.
For instance, no matter how compatible my husband and I are, no matter how much we share the same values and goals, we still disappoint each other in several ways.
It’s only natural because he is who he is and I am who I am. There are parts of us that just don’t meet each other’s expectations and desires.
I’d love it if he was more into art, so we could get into in-depth discussions about symbolism and art techniques. Similarly, he’d love it if I was smarter about budgeting and investing.
But we accept each other and appreciate what we have, instead of endlessly getting frustrated with what we lack.
See, that’s what a truly healthy relationship calls for – acceptance of who your partner is, not who you want them to be.
3) Having a partner completes you
Spinning off on that, what about the notion that “you complete me”?
I blame Jerry Maguire for this. As one of the thousands of people who first swooned when he said “You complete me” to Dorothy, I admit this became an idea firmly entrenched in my mind.
Now that I’ve been married for a long time, though, I see how this can be truly damaging to relationships.
Because the truth is, we shouldn’t come into relationships expecting the other person to be that missing piece of the puzzle.
My best friend once told me this nugget of wisdom, “You should be complete on your own. Your husband, your kids are important, sure, but even if life takes them away or if you’d never had them, you should still be whole.”
Tall order, right? And terrifying, to be honest.
But it’s true. Our completeness is an inside job; it’s nobody else’s business. That’s why I now believe that the folks who are happy being single actually have a great chance of having a healthy relationship if they so wish.
4) If it’s meant to be, it will be easy
I’m a believer in “If it’s meant to be, it will be.” But will it be easy? That’s the part I disagree with.
If you don’t know by now, people are complex. We’ve got different backgrounds, ways of communicating, goals, and all that.
At some point, those differences will lead to conflict, some of which will be easy to resolve, and some not.
I once read a beautiful story of two people – the man was a Muslim, and the woman was a Christian. They fell in love and decided to get married.
Now you can imagine just how difficult that path is. Fortunately, this couple figured it all out and found ways to compromise.
But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t as easy and effortless as the myth claims it should be.
5) Love conquers all
So, in the long run, will love be enough?
I’ve heard of couples who parted ways even while they still loved each other. And always, that made me wonder, “Why? If you still love each other, why can’t you stay together?”
Real talk – while love is a powerful force, it doesn’t solve all problems.
It takes real effort to keep a relationship healthy. Just being in love or saying “I love you” doesn’t cut it.
Relationships require communication, trust, and a lot of compromise. And sometimes, they might even call for professional intervention to overcome significant issues.
6) Couples in love never fight
Speaking of issues, another myth is that couples in love are always in agreement. Always peaceful and holding hands.
During the honeymoon stage, yes, this could be true. But beyond that, the idea is just unrealistic.
In fact, the absence of conflict is more concerning. It could point to festering issues and hidden resentment.
This shouldn’t even be a myth anymore, actually. Psychology experts are unanimous in saying that couples who fight last longer.
For example, Dr. Stephen Stosny says in Psychology Today that fighting and discussing issues out in the open are what takes our toddler-like love (read: emotional and impulsive) into the realm of adult love (mature and compassionate).
What’s more, fighting (in a civil way, of course) can be good for your health!
A University of Michigan study found that “couples in which both the husband and wife suppress their anger when one attacks the other die earlier than members of couples where one or both partners express their anger and resolve the conflict.“
So, forget about keeping the peace. Express yourself respectfully, talk your issues out, and watch your relationship grow healthier.
7) Jealousy is a sign of love
Still on the topic of issues, let’s talk about the myth surrounding jealousy.
I know too many people who think that jealousy is okay, even flattering. I admit to feeling this way myself whenever my husband shows the slightest sign of jealousy.
Well, that’s just our ego talking. Of course, it would feel good seeing our partner jealous – it’s proof of our desirability!
But too much of it? That’s not a sign of love. That’s a red flag.
The truth is, too much jealousy is a reflection of insecurity and a desire to control.
Naturally, that doesn’t bode well for any relationship. A strong relationship is built on trust and confidence in each other, not on negatives like possessiveness or fear of loss.
Which leads me to my next point…
8) Love hurts
I mean, there are countless songs about it, right? How can it not be true?
Well, it’s tricky – love may indeed feel like it hurts sometimes, but not because of love itself.
It’s because we get into conflicts. We fight, exchange harsh words, or neglect our partners, and of course, that’s painful.
But if you look at the overall picture of the relationship, it shouldn’t be full of hurt and heartache. There should be more good times than bad.
The myth of “Love hurts” is one of the most dangerous there is, in my opinion. Because it can get us stuck in toxic, abusive, or at the very least, mismatched relationships.
Accepting that love hurts means you’re unnecessarily accepting, maybe even excusing, a terrible situation.
We should never associate love with suffering and endless sacrifices. A healthy relationship should feel supportive, kind, and respectful.
9) Your partner should know what you want without asking
Oh boy, did I buy into this myth big time. In our early years together, I expected my husband to read my mind.
He should’ve known I wanted a trip out of town for my birthday. He should’ve known I’m not okay with spending New Year’s with his family. He should’ve known I prefer cake to ice cream.
And of course, if he didn’t know (which was more than a few times), I would get all pouty and resentful. I’d even think I married the wrong person because, how could he not even know me?
Look, no matter how close we are to our partners, they won’t know everything about us. Nor will we know everything about them.
Expecting them to read our minds is unrealistic and sets the stage for disappointment and resentment.
There’s no getting around it – if you want a healthy relationship, be open and honest. It’s that simple.
With love being such a prized pursuit in life, it’s easy for us to buy into ideas and clichés that sound incredibly romantic and fairy-tale-ish but are just not realistic.
Real life – real love – takes work and effort. It can be messy, it can be confusing, but if you’ve got your eyes open about its realities, you’ve got a good chance of keeping your relationship healthy.