Thinking that “happily ever after” is real can spell trouble for a relationship. Discover the truth behind some common relationship misconceptions so you can boost your bond.
By Gabrielle Frank
Falling in love is easy. Maintaining a happy, healthy relationship? That’s the hard part. And if you go into a relationship buying into myths like “opposites attract” and “happy couples never fight,” you’ll be setting yourself up for failure, says Charlie Bloom, a psychotherapist based in Santa Cruz, California. These ideals are unhealthy and unrealistic since they tend to be based on fairytales (Cinderella, anyone?).
To help improve your relationships, we’ve decided to clear the air. Read on to discover the truths behind 10 common relationship myths.
Myth #1: Opposites Attract
The Truth: This is one of those myths that’s ingrained in us as teenagers: the good girl falls for the bad boy. And while there is some truth to it — extroverts tend to be attracted to introverts, for example — the key to a successful relationship is to complement one another. “I like to say complements attract,” says Bloom. “This means looking for someone who has the qualities you lack.” It’s also a big plus to have similarities in your personal history, as well as interests in common. Coming for a similar background will make it easier for you and your partner to relate to one another.
Myth #2: Happy Couples Never Fight
The Truth: A lot of us fall for this misconception, and it’s no wonder why. Movies, television shows, and society perpetuate the myth that for happy couples, life is always roses and sunshine. The truth? “All couples have differences, and fighting is not a sign that you’re with the wrong person,” says Bloom. “In fact, it’s healthy to debate issues. You’re not always going to see eye-to-eye, and that’s okay.” What is important is being diplomatic during arguments, and not judging or being critical of your spouse. Speaking the truth without blame and judgment will establish trust and strengthen your bond.
Myth #3: Couples Should Have Sex 5 Times a Month
The Truth: “There is no correct frequency for sex,” says Bloom. “Everyone has different needs.” If you want to have sex more or less often, talk to your partner and figure out a groove that works for you both.
Myth #4: Good Relationships Are Easy and Don’t Require Work
The Truth: People tell themselves, “If I find the right person, it’s smooth sailing from there.” The reality is a lot different. “You don’t know a person until you’ve been with them for a while,” explains Bloom. “In the beginning of a relationship, you’re both putting your best foot forward. But eventually your flaws start to show, and your partner has to learn how to deal.” Recognizing that all relationships take work will keep you from feeling disappointed later on.
Myth #5: Getting Married or Having a Baby Will Solve Your Relationship Problems
The Truth: “Women who deal with trust issues tend to think that marriage and babies will make their partners more committed,” says Bloom. “But that’s not necessarily the case.” Rather than solve your problems, having a baby may actually create new issues that will only add to the ones you’re already dealing with. To improve your bond, you have to look at what’s happening inside the relationship rather than looking to outside forces to fix it, recommends Bloom.
Myth #6: Commitment Is a One-Time Event
The Truth: Saying your vows and exchanging rings on your wedding day isn’t enough: You need to commit to your marriage every single day, according to Bloom. “Great relationships don’t just happen,” he says. “You have to cocreate it with your partner all the time.”
Myth #7: If He Loved Me, He Would Know What I Need
The Truth: “Your partner isn’t a mind-reader,” says Bloom. “It’s up to you to tell him or her exactly what you need to feel loved.” For example, if you want physical connection and attention, tell your partner what that means for you. Maybe it’s a hug and kiss before you leave for work, or cuddling on the weekends. Bloom suggests saying something like, “It would mean a lot to me if ….” and filling in the blank with whatever you need to feel loved and supported.
Myth #8: All Men Are Prone to Cheat
The Truth: This myth is endlessly supported by the media, so it’s no surprise that a lot of us fall for it. But the reality is not that all men are cheaters, and buying into this myth can have negative consequences for your relationship. “You’ll be less trusting of your partner and constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop,” says Bloom. If you want a solid bond, you have to trust your significant other and communicate if you have concerns about his fidelity. It isn’t always easy, but it’s important to be open and honest with one another.
Myth #9: People Don’t Change
The Truth: People can change — as long as they want to. “You have to be willing and open,” says Bloom. Remember that change can be scary, so it’s important to be loving and supportive of your partner.
Myth #10: Happily Ever After Exists
The Truth: “We all grow up with the Cinderella story,” says Bloom. “People are taught to think that love should be enough. But if you’re caught up in that myth, you’re not going to take the responsibility required to create a great relationship.” You have to be ready and willing to work for your relationship. It doesn’t just happen; it takes effort and determination.