We get all sorts of information about love and romance as we grow up. Our caregivers, extended family, friends, early romances, and of course, the media, all shape our beliefs about what love is, how it works, and what it should look like for us. This works as long as the messages we receive about love are accurate truths about human love and romance. But when the messages aren’t accurate? Well, this sets us up for a lot of confusion, and we can be left feeling like we’re doing this whole love thing wrong.
If this sounds familiar, it’s quite likely that you’re suffering from trying to achieve an idealized version of love that doesn’t exist. It’s helpful to know it isn’t your fault if you have some of these messages – they are instilled from a very early age and typically form before we have the rational thought capacity to critically consider what we are being taught. It’s also helpful to know you aren’t the only one, and it is possible to address and change the myths we believe in. Here are 7 common myths to start exploring. Do these show up in your romantic relationships?
7 Myths About Love
1. If it’s right, it should be easy.
A healthy relationship doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. Relationships take commitment and work, and the decision to show up for the relationship every day. Some days are easier than others, and relationships may seem to have fewer struggles than others, but the truth holds: every relationship will have a challenge at some point. Relationship challenges, not including abuse or maltreatment, are a normal, healthy part of being in a relationship, and likewise, the absence of challenges does not mean the relationship is right for you. Rather than looking for “easy,” a better message might be: Relationships take work and sometimes they aren’t easy. Love flourishes when both partners are committed to solving challenges together.”
2. Love at first sight.
Ah, love at first sight: The giddy feelings, the rush of infatuation, the feeling that this is IT. Our bodies do a wonderful job of creating the feeling of “want” for another person. These strong, passionate feelings are driven by a biological process designed for procreation. Totally normal, and often intoxicatingly wonderful as they are, these feelings are not love. Attraction, yes, Desire, yes. Infatuation, yes. Potential for love, yes. But love? No. Love develops (or doesn’t) as you get to know someone – it does not happen right away. Instead of considering the messaging that the right relationship will start as love at first sight, consider the messaging that love develops over time and the feelings you have when you first meet someone can be influenced by a host of internal and environmental factors that have nothing to do with love.
3. If you are with the right partner, you wouldn’t be attracted to anyone else.
Similar to the myth of love at first sight, we have the myths of singular attraction. You may have heard the message that if you are attracted to someone other than your partner, it’s a sign of doom in your relationship. If you’re really in love and in the right relationship, how could you possibly be attracted to another person? Well, the truth is, attraction is impacted by hormones, emotional state, environment, stress, communication levels, and a whole lot more. In short, attraction often happens as a passive process without any doing of ours. And our level of attraction for someone, as well as our general attraction for others, will shift and change throughout the days, whether we’re coupled up or single. Instead of considering the message of love at first sight, consider the message that romantic feelings are typically in a constant state of flux and not necessarily an indicator of how much you love your partner.
4. The right person will complete you.
There’s a myth that says we are half of a whole, and one day we will find our other half and be complete. This myth can set us up for codependency, disappointment, dissatisfaction, and an unending quest to find our other half. The truth is, love blossoms when two complete people come together to complement each other. The keyword being complement, not complete.
We can complete ourselves whether we are in a relationship or not, and we can often have healthier relationships when we do the work to complete ourselves, then enter a relationship that feels aligned with who we are.
5. Jealousy means your partner really loves you.
This myth can be dangerous in that it sets us up to accept poor treatment as a sign of love. To be clear, jealousy is a natural and normal experience and most humans experience it at some point. Unresolved jealousy, or unaddressed issues stemming from jealousy, can be more a signal of underlying confidence and/or security issues, more than it is a sign of love, especially if it results in abuse or control. Instead of entertaining the idea that if someone is jealous it means they love you, you might consider what a healthy relationship looks and feels like when both people are confident and secure in the relationship. That’s not to say that jealousy won’t crop up in your relationship, but if and when it does, remember it’s not an indicator of how much love is shared.
6. Being in love is a state you are either in or not in.
Love is a fluid state – we can be in love, out of love, sort of in love, or anywhere in between – and we can experience the entire range in any given time period. This morning, we might have felt deep love for our partner. Throughout the day, things happen (or don’t happen), that spark frustration, or anger, or joy, or connection, and this impacts how we feel toward our partner in the moment. We may cycle through all feelings of love during the day, or we may cycle through one or none of them. The point is, we can be in any stage of feeling in love at any given time, and it’s normal to feel different levels of being in love with your partner – it’s not a fixed state that you are either in or not in.
7. Love is a sign you’re meant to be together.
There are a couple of issues with this myth. For one, we would need a single definition of “love” for it to be a determining factor of whether we’re meant to be together. For many of us, the “love” that we take as a sign that we’re meant for each other, is often the initial stage of infatuation. Because this stage is fleeting, using it as an indicator of being meant for each other is not likely to be the best gauge. Secondly, as we’ve seen, “love” is a fluid state that can come and go, and we might be better served by assessing our relationship based on tangibles over a longer period of time.
If you’ve internalized these, or other, messages about love, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Once you recognize the myths of love, you can start to deconstruct your beliefs and rebuild your working understanding of love. And remember: You are worthy of finding your truth about love.
If you’re not sure where to start, a relationship coach might be able to help. Learn how myths about love show up in your relationship patterns and discover new ways of connecting so you can live better and love better.