Relationships are the cornerstone of our lives and our happiness. Unfortunately, they are also responsible for much or our unhappiness. We go to school for 12 years at least, yet we do not learn much about relationships. With the divorce rate of over 50%, it is obvious that we are not learning what we need to have healthy, happy relationships. We do not learn how to choose a partner or how to keep romantic relationships alive long term. Not only are we not learning what we need to know, we are learning relationship myths that can actually keep us from being happy.
What are some of these myths, and how can we learn to spot them so they do not ruin our chances for long-term happiness?
Relationships are hard work.
You might have heard this from your parents or you might be saying this yourself over coffee with your girlfriends. I hear these kind of statements frequently at social gatherings. If the person is single, they may be using this as an excuse to stay single, “Relationships are too much work. I am glad I am single.” I believe that very few people would prefer to remain single. This belief that relationships are too much work can stop them from trying. For married couples, this might be a reason for not trying to make the relationship better. It can keep people stuck and not motivated to make improvements.
Relationships do take effort, but the key to making it last is learning how to make it work. Relationships take attention, commitment, and the right attitude. Part of the problem is that we do not know what to do to make our relationships successful. We might be putting forth a great deal of effort and not getting results, which causes frustration. We need to learn how to communicate and how to give time to our relationships so that our efforts are successful.
My partner should know how to make me happy. They should know what I need. I should not have to tell them.
This is a very dangerous myth. We are all individuals, and what we want and need in a relationship can be very different. We all have a picture in our minds of what a good relationship looks like. This picture comes from our family of origin, our past experiences and our personality. No picture is right or wrong, they are just different. The key is to find someone whose picture of a relationship matches your own. If you and your partner have two very different ideas of how a relationship works, it will be nearly impossible to have a happy, healthy, long-term relationship.
Even if you have similar pictures or similar values, men and women are still very different. What they want and need in relationships are as different as the sexes. This again is something we are not taught. We are usually taught that if my partner loves me, he/she will know how to make me happy. This is not usually true. It is ok to communicate your wants, needs, and desires to your partner.
Love means never having to say you’re sorry.
Do you remember the movie, Love Story? This was a well-remembered line from that movie. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” is a catchphrase based on a line from the Erich Segal novel, and was popularized by its 1970 film adaptation Love Story starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. The line is spoken in the middle of the film, by Jennifer Cavilleri (MacGraw’s character), when Oliver Barrett (O’Neal) is about to apologize to her for his anger. In this movie, the couple had a very short relationship due to her illness and untimely death. In most relationships, never having to say you are sorry is not ok. Being in a relationship does not give us permission to act or say anything we want and not have to apologize. The opposite is true. When you love someone, you apologize quickly and readily because they and the relationship are a top priority. We all make mistakes, and apologizing is essential in a happy, healthy relationship. Our partner’s happiness is important to us and we want to do all we can to be the best partner we can be. Sometimes that means not saying something in order to avoid hurting them, and sometimes it means apologizing when you do. Remember, the goal is to have a great relationship, not always to be right.
These are only a few of the relationship myths that might be causing you trouble. I will address more myths in future blog posts. What myths have you heard? Feel free to share them below.
For more information on how to have a happier relationship, check out my book, Unmasking Secrets to Unstoppable Relationships: How to Find, Keep, and Renew Love and Passion in Your Life.
Lori Ann Davis, MA, CRS
Certified Relationship Specialist
Call today to schedule your free strategy session.
Listen to Real Talk with Lori Davis every Monday at 6pm on Ivyberadio.com