There are many reasons why great relationships may seem elusive. Believing the myths we’ve been sold by films / novels / romantic philosophies will lead us down a disappointing road. Let’s clear up some relationship myths so we can spend our valuable time and energy on what really matters and not on trying to find or cultivate these ‘romantic’ notions that don’t exist.
MYTH: Great couples never argue
There will always be disagreements – you are not the same person. You are there to learn from each other. The question is HOW you disagree. You can disagree and still be open to listening. You can disagree and not shout. You can disagree and still respect each other. You can disagree and not get defensive. These are all possible, but not all easy. They each take practice and require us to address our own negative behaviour patterns. What do you need to improve so that your disagreements become constructive rather than destructive?
MYTH: Great couples always feel passionately in love
To love someone deeply and be passionately ‘in love’ are two different things. Yes, sometimes they coincide but they never coexist continuously. Deep love can be continuous and present throughout all kinds of other feelings which come and go in a relationship. The passionate ‘in love’ feeling is very common at the start of a relationship, sometimes while the deep love is developing, sometimes just on it’s own. Eventually that heady cocktail of hormones subsides and if deep love hasn’t formed underneath that, the relationship usually ends. People who continuously seek the passionate ‘in love’ feeling will be destined go from short relationship to short relationship. Great couples accept that deep love is far more important and also put effort and energy into creating moments of passion within the relationship without worrying when they’re not there.
MYTH: Great couples know the needs and feelings of the other without having to say it
Fortunately, as babies, our caregivers were able to guess (with excellent accuracy) our needs and feelings before we were able to speak. They knew when we were hungry, tired, ill, upset, happy, etc. Our needs where quite simple back then. Unfortunately some of us haven’t yet fully accepted that as adults our needs and feelings are a hell of a lot more complicated than when we were infants. That means it is VITAL to communicate clearly and openly in relationships. If you need something, say it. If you want something, ask. If you feel an emotion which is affecting your actions/ decisions, tell your partner. It might be sad and painful to accept that the person we love and have chosen to spend our life with, is not able to know what we need and feel all the time but it is absolutely necessary. The sooner we realise this the sooner we start communicating openly and having our needs met and feelings understood.
MYTH: Great couples are only attracted to each other
Humans are attracted to other humans whether we are in a relationship or not. Sure, when you’re in a relationship you might notice it less, you may even deny it to yourself (and your partner) but you will be attracted to other people. There is NO problem with that. The problem arrises either when you believe that being attracted to someone else means something it doesn’t – you don’t love your partner enough, or they’re not ‘the one’ etc. Or when you can’t just accept that the attraction is there and then just leave it, but choose to act on it. Those are the two main problems with the attraction to other people, not the attraction itself.
MYTH: Great relationships are easy and natural
Humans are incredibly complex animals. We live in an amazing environment we have created for ourselves. But so much of it is not ‘natural’. Monogamous behaviours are indeed natural for our species but lifetime monogamy is not necessarily supported by our biology. That being said, it’s absolutely possible when you understand human psychology. That’s because when it comes to decision-making, we are the masters of our own destiny. If you decide that what you want is to have a lifelong relationship with someone then you absolutely can. What you must accept though, is that it’s not going to be easy. Just like working in a ‘job’ is also not ‘natural’ and living in big cities is not ‘natural’ etc. Just because something isn’t natural doesn’t mean it’s not possible or even fun and enjoyable. Our lives, now more that ever before are about our choices. Relationships are no different. Make the choice, make the commitment and then learn and grow. Learning isn’t easy, growing isn’t easy (remember growing pains?) but that’s part of the beauty of being human.
MYTH: Great relationships are made up of two halves of a whole
There is not one single person on this planet who is going to complete you. You need to be a whole and complete person by yourself in order to have a happy and fulfilling relationship. That means you’ve also got to accept that your partner is a whole and complete person without you. You choose to be together, not out of necessity, but out of joy. It doesn’t mean that you won’t compliment each other in many ways. Maybe you see the ways you differ and so your relationship leaves room for learning and growth, but it’s not that you’re incomplete without them. It also means there are other people – family, friends – who will also contribute important things to your life so you are not reliant on just one other person.
In so many ways, what we chose to believe about relationships and our willingness to grow as individuals will determine their success. Being accepting and aware of the truth about ourselves and others is a great place to start.