We all grow up believing different things about love and romantic relationships. We are all shaped by romantic stories at a young age to believe in “happily ever after” and by our family of origin experiences.
When we are young we are easily influenced and our beliefs often become invisible to us, thus we rarely revisit these stories to see if they are serving who we are and the relationships we are trying to authentically create. These myths end up shaping every aspect of our relationships, like how we expect to communicate, resolve conflict, and find happiness.
Thankfully, there is hope. With guided help from a couples counselor or relationship coach, you can learn to spot and challenge the relationship myths driving how you interact with others.
What do we mean by relationship myths?
Relationship myths are the beliefs we have about how love “should” play out. We often learn these myths from movies, stories, friends, and family. According to clinical psychologist Terri Orbuch, there are hundreds of myths about relationships that vary in size and complexity.
Many older beliefs about relationships are downright strange and easily dismissed today. For example, women were once instructed to wear pink, ruffled underwear if they wanted to guarantee relationship success. Other myths are harder to spot and unpack and seem completely reasonable when you first hear them.
Why do these relationship myths occur?
We have limited information to go on
Humans survived throughout history by learning to spot patterns. We take in our surroundings and learn to assign certain things meaning. For example, food will be scarce when the weather turns cold. It’s only natural to attempt to apply these same observations to every aspect of our lives, like our relationships.
Unfortunately, many people haven’t actually been in many relationships in their lives, especially in previous generations. Because of this, most people don’t have a broad sample size regarding love.
So, they are correlating data from their limited relationships and using this limited data set to create advice about what works or doesn’t. These beliefs are based on their experiences or perceptions, and people share them in an attempt to be helpful. But no two people’s experiences are precisely the same, and what worked for someone might not work for someone else.
We are captivated by the story
We also love to believe in and hope for the best. Historically, the stories we tell in society were meant to motivate, teach, and inspire. But recently, our stories have taken a turn towards entertainment.
Movies and television shows aren’t as focused on better equipping us for life so much as entertaining us. They pander to our hidden beliefs and desires, shaping how we see romance. We grow up expecting the grand gesture or believing that true love will always find its way despite life’s obstacles.
Don’t get us wrong. We love a good rom-com as much as the next person. We’re not saying they’re not entertaining and can’t teach us some things (within reason). But they’re entertaining because everything is turned to eleven, not because they accurately reflect the real world.
What are some of the more common relationship myths?
As we’ve mentioned previously, there are hundreds of myths and misconceptions that address everything from the color of clothes people are wearing to general ideas about how much time a couple should interact with each other. If this list were to be exhaustive, you’d be reading all day 🙂
So we’ll start with a few of the most significant relationship myths impacting relationships today:
- If you don’t have that “spark,” you’re not in love
- Good couples don’t argue
- There are set timelines for when anything significant should happen
- If you’re in love, you should want to spend as much time together as possible
- You only need your partner in life
Let’s debunk these myths!
No judgment if you’ve believed any of these relationship myths in the past. Without guidance from someone outside yourself, like a couples counselor, many of these can seem to make sense. However, because relationship therapists have seen and studied so many different relationships, they understand that most of these myths couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you don’t have that “spark,” you’re not in love
Sadly, that initial spark you get in a relationship’s early days comes and goes. Some people believe so strongly in that feeling that they’ll scrap a solid relationship just because they perceive the intensity as dying down. Those initial flutters will not continue forever, and it’s crucial to know how to transition into different phases of your relationship as things change. There are ways to reignite the spark, but that feeling alone cannot sustain a marriage or long-term relationship.
Good couples don’t argue
Virtually no one enjoys arguing. In fact, most will do everything possible to avoid fights at all costs. But arguments are a normal part of any relationship and something to be embraced and not avoided. Sure, there are negative patterns and trends you don’t want to fall into. But healthy arguments where both parties seek to share their thoughts and feelings in respectful ways and collaborate together towards a resolution will help strengthen a relationship, not tear it apart. Most of us do not grow up seeing healthy arguments, and fighting fair won’t always come naturally. That’s why it’s imperative to learn how to argue effectively from a trained couples counselor.
There are set timelines for when anything significant should happen
Many mini rules and myths are nestled within this particular myth. For example, you should wait two days before calling someone after a date or always meet your soulmate in the spring. People have so many rules for when something should happen. “Well, if he really loved you enough, he’d propose within six months.” But every person is unique, and that’s doubly true when two people have joined together in a relationship. So, don’t worry too much about when things “should” happen; instead, talk openly with your partner about where they’re at and how they’re feeling. Nothing should occur at any set time except when you’re both ready.
If you’re in love, you should want to spend as much time together as possible
There’s a natural nesting time that will occur for most couples. You’ll hole up together at home, binging series, or escape from the world together in some way or another. But many couples believe too strongly that they’re supposed to want to be together 24/7, and if they don’t feel that way, they’re not meant to be together anymore. Sometimes you need to get out on your own or have your own hobbies and pastimes. Often, this can help you discover new things to bring back into the relationship to share with your partner.
You only need your partner in life
This is a similar myth to the one above but is also worth mentioning. Your partner cannot and should not be expected to meet every relationship need in your life. Yes, they absolutely should be one of, if not the, most influential people in your life. But you also need mentors, friends, family, and other people in your life. Your relationship hasn’t failed if you need time with your best friends or if you’d rather talk to your mom one evening instead of your partner.
Get started freeing yourself from relationship myths today
We might have mentioned relationship myths you struggle with today. Or, possibly, you have a sense that something you’re holding onto isn’t as healthy as you once thought it was.
If that’s the case, please reach out to a couples counselor today for expert couples relationship guidance. These beliefs can be tricky to identify and even harder to untangle from your actions. Please reach out to me or seek the help of a trained relationship coach if you feel like wrong beliefs are holding you back from experiencing relationship fullness.