Have you ever heard the mistreated woman say, “I’m in love, I can’t leave him!” Or, how about the man who is being belittled say, “I love her and that’s just the way our relationship is.” Those statements try to make it look like love is the reason for the anger, hurt, or disappointment, but two people in love – real love – don’t have to say those things.
Love is an important part of our lives. It can make us stronger, healthier, and happier – but only if we don’t buy into the myths of what love should look like and, instead, focus on the true elements of love. Following are some common myths about love that need to busted for healthier and happier relationships to occur in your life.
The ‘You Complete Me’ Myth
It seems sweet to say it, but it is actually quite an unhealthy way to think. In fact, this common belief is one of the most devastating beliefs to healthy relationships because it promotes a way of thinking that encourages weakness and neediness in individuals, which makes the relationship suffer.
The need to be clingy, jealous, and controlling all stem from the belief that someone else is supposed to give you something to make you whole, and if they don’t you are lacking something in yourself and in the relationship. The bottom line is that people who think that someone else completes them do not have the self-esteem that promotes true well-being as an individual and as a partner in a relationship.
Other people can make your life better in a number of ways, but they don’t complete you. They don’t magically add something into you by accepting you as their partner. They complement your life, not make it whole.
Two people in love are whole as individuals and as a couple. They each recognize their own value in the relationship and that is what makes the strong and exciting for as long as they are together.
The Fantasy Relationship Myth
Thanks to romantic tales that depict two people in an incredible, passionate, and perfect relationship, a lot of people feel that love has to have a fantasy element in order to be real. That belief creates unhealthy relationships in so many different ways.
For instance, in the relationship one person will hide their true feelings about what they need so conflict doesn’t occur, because conflict doesn’t happen in fantasy relationships. As time goes on, they will start to feel resentful because their core needs are not being met. They start to feel so unhappy that conflict ends up occurring anyway, and it becomes much harder to fix because the time spent in denial has made the hurt deeper and their beliefs about their partner more negative.
In addition, because fantasy-type people don’t exist, it can feel like settling when you can’t find that ‘perfect’ person. When someone feels like they have settled, they will be critical towards their partner and cause tension and anger in the relationship. Someone simply can’t live up to a fantasy that someone else has created because fantasies don’t contain flaws, but humans do.
It is important to keep your expectations in the real world. Expect a person with flaws. Accept your partner for who they are. Forgive mistakes that are forgivable and find ways to make the relationship stronger every day.
Also, remember that in the beginning, your hormones are painting everything in a much better light than other people would see. When you are in the initial stages of attraction, adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin are all released. These hormones cause you to feel an intense amount of pleasure (similar to cocaine!) and keep your focus on the good details of the relationship while lessening the bad. After these chemicals wear off, you will be able to clearly see the good and the bad, not just the fantasy that has been playing in your head. When that happens, real love elements take over to make the relationship last.
These elements include communicating, even in the difficult times, and working on the relationship to stay healthy and strong. That means opening up to your partner and talking about issues you are having. It also means listening to your partner’s issues with an open mind so that you can understand where your partner is coming from and be sympathetic to their concerns and needs.
The Grumpy Old Couple Myth
How many of us picture the grumpy old couple who bickers as they go through their day and see two people in love? I would venture to say a lot of us!
We have been taught since we were young that old people bickering is cute and shows that they have put up with each other for years as a true testament to how much they love each other. But, bickering is not a sign of true love. It is a sign of disrespect, lack of compassion, annoyance, and misunderstanding.
Two people in love do not bicker constantly. They do not fight about stupid things and talk about each other behind their backs. They support each other and understand each other, and they enjoy each other’s company with laughter, affection, and respect.
That is the type of old couple that people should be looking up to when it comes to love. The couple who can still have that type of relationship after 30, 40, or 50 years of being together is the couple that has spent their time really experiencing the love of someone else.
The Perfect Relationship Myth
If someone seems to be in a Stepford relationship, where one or both people are completely submissive to each other, too happy, and seem to be living the perfect life, unhappiness is looming somewhere in the relationship. The perfect relationship is just a myth.
There is no such thing as the perfect relationship that never has ups and downs. Every relationship has moments of anger, hurt, or confusion, and it is what you do in those times that show how much you love each other or not.
Two people who think that perfection is what love is all about will ignore problems that arise in the relationship. They will avoid conflict and try to pretend that everything is perfect so that their partner, their friends, their family, and even themselves doesn’t have to worry about what is really going on at the core of their relationship.
Two people in love understand that their relationship will have some bumps and they have the tools ready to handle those moments and make it through them with satisfactory results. These tools are communication, compassion, and a willingness to develop a plan of action to work on things that are going wrong.
Space During Tough Times Myth
I’m sure you know some people who separate during times of struggle. For instance, when one partner loses a family member they don’t require their partner to stand by their side as they go through the entire process of grieving and recuperating from the loss. Instead, they separate and get space from their partner so they can deal with their issues by themselves before they come back together and have to deal with their partner too.
Two people in love are a natural team during the tough times. They stick together and support each other through these times. They lean on each other, gain strength from each other, and help each other cope, relieve stress, and overcome negative reactions. This act of teamwork doesn’t require an agreement to happen, it just happens because they love each other and tough times demand that they stand by each other for the extra strength to make it through.
The ‘Love Is A Battlefield’ Myth
Love is not a place where a war takes place. It is not place where you get hurt and then try to hurt someone back. This saying is used often to justify unhealthy relationships where one person is trying to be more right than the other person, but that’s such an unhealthy way of approaching a relationship, and it guarantees a relationship full of hurt and anger and an eventual breakup.
It’s true that dating can be a battlefield. You meet someone, get to know them, battle them on your opposing opinions and beliefs, and then end up realizing that you are not right for each other, but two people in love for the long haul do not make their relationship into a constant struggle.
They try to make life more fun and enjoyable for each other. They understand each other’s needs and make an effort to fulfill them. The work towards peace in the relationship, not war.
The Abusive Relationship
No one expects to be abused when they get into a relationship. However, as some relationships deepen, some people start to get abused and justify the abuse as a way to show their true commitment and love to the other person.
For example, a woman who stands by her man even though he has cheated on her, threatened her, and tried to control her life, may feel like she is showing him how much she loves him by staying true to him even though he mistreats her. She holds on to the hope that things are going to change, and she is willing to put up with the hard times in order to reach the good that she once had with her man.
This happens more often than it should. We want someone to see how great we really are, so we show them how much abuse we will take from them as a way to demonstrate that. But, being mistreated in a relationship just shows how weak you are and how you will let someone else take power over you so that they can feel better about themselves. That’s not love. That’s not even close to love. That’s more of a master and slave relationship.
Two people in love are not abusive towards each other. They don’t need to mistreat each other and show how loving they are by accepting the mistreatment. They stand up for themselves, treat each other with respect, and make the relationship a place where they are equally important.
As cliche as it sounds, love gives you wings! It helps you feel alive, powerful, and high, not stuck, weak, and low. Two people in love will often show these feelings through their body language. They will stand taller, walk lighter, and speak quickly and with enthusiasm. The love is very obvious when they are together.
Two people in an abusive relationship will sit smaller, walk heavy, and speak with a heavy and depressing tone when they are together – and often when they are not together. The unhappiness (lack of love) in the relationship is clear when you see them.
The Love And Friendship Is Separate Myth
Lastly, the notion that romantic love and friendship are two different things keeps people in a lower state of happiness in their relationship.
Often people will introduce their lover as their partner and then refer to someone else as their best friend. Their best friend is the person they confide in, share everything with, and seek advice from, while their lover in the person they are intimate with and share a life with. This creates a very big separation in the relationship.
For instance, I have a friend who was (yes, was) married to a man who she saw as a father and provider, but not a friend. She didn’t confide in him. She didn’t want to spend her free time with him. Her friends were where she had fun and got support and acceptance from, so she didn’t need to do that with him. Her marriage was hard to watch. They were like two people who met up for supper, shared a bathroom, watched TV together, went to functions together, but didn’t have a lot of emotion or connection during those times. However, when you saw them with their friends, they were full of life and laughter.
Two people in love should not just be lovers, they should also be best friends. Best friends are judgement free, honest, accepting, respectful, dependable, supportive, forgiving, good listeners, fun to be around, and trustworthy, which is everything that should play a part in a loving relationship.