The Unique Nature Of Relationships
Throughout our lives we encounter various rules or standards of what makes a relationship good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. They guide the way we think, shape our beliefs, and determine the way we interact with others; they often serve as the basis for assessing levels of satisfaction in our romantic relationships. We form these assumptions from what we see and experience; whether it be from a television show or movie, or the relationships of the friends and family around us. These unwritten rules of engagement, or relationship myths, about how we are supposed to feel and how we should be acting are often misleading, can lead to disappointment, and fail to represent the dynamic components involved in starting and maintaining relationships. Instead of setting the framework for a fulfilling and satisfying relationship, these myths have the opposite effect by creating confusion, distress, and unhappiness. By subscribing heavily to these myths of how things are supposed to be, we ignore the unique nature of relationships and the individuals within them. The reality is these myths are counterproductive and force us to chase an unattainable ideal of what a relationship should feel and/or be like. The misconception that there is a set of standard norms that all relationships can be measured against is destructive and can create a sense of hopelessness when your relationship falls short of these widely accepted myths. While numerous myths exist, these are a few of the most commonly held myths.
Common Relationship Myths
Myth 1: if it is meant to be it will work itself out. Relationships require active engagement and effort. Challenges cannot be worked through if they are ignored and opportunities cannot be created through passivity.
Myth 2: Avoid voicing dissatisfactions early on. Communication is key to setting a foundation of roles and expectations in a relationship. While no one wants to appear overly critical or argumentative, staying silent about things that bother will only send the message that you do not have any issue, which could cause confusion or frustration as the relationship progresses.
Myth 3: Healthy couples have X amount of sex in a month/week/day. The reality is there is no set number of times a couple should be having sex and frequency of sex is dependent on a multitude of factors. A common cause for sexual dissatisfaction is the faulty or unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves. Each relationship is unique so comparing your sex life to others will not be helpful, talk to your partner and see what factors are impacting your sexual satisfaction.
Myth 4: Couples in good relationships don’t argue. This is simply not true. All couples argue, the important things are how these arguments happen, the problem solving skills of the couple, ability to reach conflict resolution, and to avoid escalation. Striving to never argue will set a relationship up for failure.
Myth 5: Good relationships don’t require work. This myth is the farthest from the truth. Relationships require lots of work and attention: building a life with someone requires understanding the values, desires, hopes, etc. of yourself and your partner, and how these things fit together as a unit over time. Working at a relationship is a shared responsibility and requires each partner to be an active participant.
Myth 6: If my partner truly loves me they should know what I am thinking/what I need although your partner may be the one person in the world that knows you the best, they cannot possibly know what you are thinking or feeling at all times. Expecting your partner to anticipate your needs/thoughts is like expecting them to read your mind. Communication must be a reciprocal engagement- be open and honest about your needs, thoughts, and feelings.
Navigating relationships is hard and contrary to some of these myths, there is no one set of rules that applies to a successful relationship. These assumptions do more harm than good, so next time you are tempted to compare your relationship to the standards held by these myths, keep in mind that each couple’s experience is unique to them.
Others can be found in an article in Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201508/10-common-relationship-myths-and-why-theyre-all-wrong
Guest writer: Hillary Geffner