Below is a list of common, bizarre, funny, misguided but definitely toxic and unhealthy ideas about romance. Some of these were from me, some from others. But if you see something you currently believe in on this list, perhaps reconsider your position.
Maybe you will continue to believe in that thought, but putting it to the test won’t hurt, right?
1. Men and women cannot just be friends.
This one crept into the 30s but was a major highlight throughout my 20s. I’ve heard various explanations as to why this is true, but mine was that if one were to meet someone and really hit it off, sooner or later an attraction will manifest itself in at least one of the two people.
The exception to this would be getting along well with a friend’s partner, but even this dynamic may lead to real attraction and very real awkwardness.
But if this were true, is it also true that gay people will eventually become attracted to people of the same sex as long as they hit it off? Hardly.
This belief stems from the notion that if you get along very well with someone, you have to develop feelings because if you two make each other happy and intellectually stimulate one another, that’s a good foundation for a relationship.
Or maybe it’s because of…
2. Actively looking for relationships
If I put a Where’s Waldo puzzle book in front of you and tell you to find Waldo, you will look for the round-rimmed glasses, red and white sweater and hat, and blue jeans on a tall white guy.
And if you have a mindset where you should be on the lookout for someone to be with because you’re of the age where you should be looking for your forever person, you will find… something. To be honest, finding Waldo would be easier because you know exactly what to look for.
Actively looking for a relationship will make you find people but not necessarily people it will work with because you may invent feelings that wouldn’t be there if you weren’t looking.
But why would you actively look for a relationship in the first place?
3. You HAVE to be in a relationship
Thanks to the media, so many of us bought into this implied and sometimes explicit idea that we all have to be in relationships. And if you’re not in one, you must question your worth. The heroes always get with a partner at the end. The villains are left alone.
So if I find myself alone for months or even years, what am I supposed to think?
4. You are nothing or incomplete without a relationship
This is an aggressive one. So many beliefs are forged from this one. So many beliefs are fed by this. But even this is still usurped by something more fundamental.
5. You are not loved
Typically caused by not receiving enough love as a child and a secure attachment with one’s caregivers, this thought gets morphed into looking at one’s life and realizing that one is also without romantic love.
This is the love that they want but it will largely be a reflection of the lack of love they experienced as a child.
6. The best sex = the best relationship
Quite often the opposite is true. The best sex may very well be the worst relationship. On the other hand, the worst sex is usually not the best relationship.
7. Manipulation isn’t all bad
I suppose this is sort of like advertising. You could demonstrate how good a product is, but why not demonstrate it while utilizing attention-grabbing graphics, closed-ended questions, FOMO and a soundtrack written and performed by Smash Mouth? You’re basically ensuring the sale/relationship happens.
People have success with this and it isn’t as if they’re lying. So what’s the big deal?
I guess the issue for me is that you could do all of those things because you genuinely feel love for the person, rather than doing these things to ensure that the relationship happens. One is performance, the other is pure. The notion of manipulation doesn’t even enter the mind if you’re doing what you’re doing because you genuinely wanted to.
8. Deep feelings mean the relationship must happen
Yeah, we wouldn’t want to waste any deep feelings, right?. Those are pretty rare to come by.
As a kid, when these feelings were rare, I can totally understand why someone would move heaven and earth for the relationship.
On the other hand, after having deep (but unique) feelings for a number of people and seeing this in others, eventually you realize that deep feelings don’t really mean much if you are treated poorly or being manipulated into feeling that way.
9. There is someone who will never hurt you
Even if this were true, which it isn’t, you probably wouldn’t even like them. People tend not to trust the vanilla, lowest common denominator, extremely agreeable, people-pleasing types.
Besides, wishing for someone who will never hurt you without also wishing that you never hurt people is hilariously one-sided, don’t you think? Are you really of the impression that you don’t or can’t hurt others?
10. You don’t need to love yourself before you can love others
The debate may still be raging for some, but it’s a done deal for me.
The other side believes that they are so sweet to their partners without realizing that when their partners try to do the same for them, they are never able to take it in stride because if you don’t love yourself, it’s not as if you believe that you deserve the good treatment.
Then when these same people subconsciously sabotage the relationship, they’re left wondering what happened.
11. Love means staying no matter what
While there’s definitely a shout for staying in a relationship when things get rocky, realistically speaking, people could leave for a variety of reasons and still have love for their partner.
Being in a relationship does not mean you’re loved. Not being in a relationship because someone turned you down or broke up with you does not mean you aren’t loved by them.
12. Love hurts
Love heals, resentment and fear hurts.
13. Love is an intense emotional experience
This belief is a major reason people get into relationships that will ultimately fail. The flame that burns the brightest gets extinguished the fastest. The relationship that has an intense dynamic to it is one that is unknowingly fueled by fear.
The romance is like an action flick. The odds are stacked against the heroes and all the elements are against them. Will they find a way to make it work? Typically, no they don’t. Unless people are willing to change for the relationship, how could it work?
The issue is that in changing in order to make the relationship work, the reasons the two people were attracted to each other are now gone and so the attraction fades.
People have no idea how much they love conflict in romance. They have none of it in their friendships and those work out fine and without the label of “intense.” But they never see that they crave drama and conflict in romance.
And when they get it, they complain.
14. If you’re attracted to other people, that’s a problem
I will also throw in looking at porn while in a relationship because the same criticism is levied at both: if you love me and are in a relationship with me, you shouldn’t be admiring others.
This stems from insecurity and the unrealistic expectation or lie that you aren’t attracted to others despite being in a relationship.
If you accepted this in yourself, you can accept it in others. If you aren’t afraid of losing the relationship or love, you will not be threatened by this. Because if they do in fact cheat, you can leave the relationship.
15. People do things “to you”
If someone cheated on you, if someone didn’t accept you anymore, if someone wanted to break up because they don’t like you anymore, if someone lied to you, we often ask, “How could they do that to me?”
You’re taking their actions personally. But have you ever considered that they did what they did because of who they are? Because if someone else was in the same scenario with you and they acted differently, wouldn’t it be because of who they are?
16. If I help someone, they could fall for me
This is so unhealthy.
Even if they did, you’re basically saying that the sole reason they like you is because you “rescued” them. So that means that if you didn’t, they wouldn’t see all the amazing things about you.
That also means that you clearly don’t think of yourself as amazing, and so you have to do something for someone to ingratiate yourself to them.
Not to mention the fact that you don’t actually accept them as they are. You’re here to change them “for the better” as if you get to decide what they want for themselves.
17. Rejection means you are flawed
If you think this, I beg you to reconsider. If someone rejects you, couldn’t it mean that you aren’t what they’re looking for? Aren’t there people that you see that you wouldn’t want to be with? That’s you rejecting them, isn’t it?
Unless what you’re saying is that you think that those other people are inherently flawed. I really hope you don’t think this way but it would explain why you’d have a fear of rejection.
The fact of the matter is, in a world of diverse values, nothing is right or wrong, except for the specific person making the judgment. It’s right for them or wrong for them.
18. A relationship is a means to fulfillment
This thought stems from a person who is living an unremarkable life. Life is boring and they need someone to spice it up. If you want excitement, you could go to the movies or make your life into one.
Or you could live a remarkable life. If you are afraid to do that, examine why.
19. If you feel jealous, scared, insanely attracted to someone else, insecure, etc. don’t tell anyone
Here’s the dilemma. If you share how you feel, you may invoke the wrath of your partner who will dump you, causing you to feel unworthy. But if you don’t share, the truth may eventually come out and invoke the wrath of your partner who will dump you, causing you to feel unworthy.
Take the first option because that’s the only option where your partner may be understanding and genuinely interested in you as a person. This will also strengthen the bond and help you to feel worthy.
It may be worth taking a look at why you don’t feel worthy in the first place too.
20. You can’t be yourself
Good luck deceiving others while blissfully unaware of the possibility that your partner is doing the exact same thing to you.
Best wishes being a knock-off brand of someone else.
And if you think that you really can’t be yourself because you’re not that great of a person, maybe take the steps to become the person you’d respect, or actually realize how great you really are while being open to growing more and more. Otherwise, you’ll just hurt others and yourself.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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Photo credit: Abdul Gani M on Unsplash