There is probably more dating and relationship advice out there, than you could go through in a hundred lifetimes. In addition, the worst part is, a lot of it is either ambiguous or in direct conflict with what you might know or have heard. So, since we all agree finding and keeping a fantastic partner who enriches your life is essential to your well-being, where do you turn to for proper advice?
Look at it this way. If you are reading a book or an article that tells you when you should call, when you should hold hands, at what exact second of what hour during your date should you go in for the kiss, then you’re already doing it wrong. In light of the sheer amount of nonsense that passes for dating advice, you are probably better off knowing what not to do instead of a series of steps or an action plan.
We have all, for whatever reason, accepted a bunch of things about relationships that might not be true. The dogmas that are almost considered untouchable or holy in the realm of relationships could actually be doing far more damage than you think. Let us look at a few of these myths and talk about why they are harmful.
1. Myth – You need to resolve all your conflicts to ensure a successful relationship.
In terms of everyday dating advice that is just plain wrong, this is most definitely the number one bunkum. Moreover, this assumption has been completely destroyed by actual scientific studies. While it might sound weird to be quoting science in the realm of something as intangible as love and relationships, it is true.
Researcher John Gottman, whom you might have read about in the bestselling ‘Blink’ by Malcom Gladwell, is a veritable relationship mad scientist. Over the years, he has developed tests where he subjects couples to a series of questions and monitors their responses via various biometric devices. After the test is done, Gottman analyses the results to see if your relationship is as strong as the partners think it is. Chances are it is not.
One of the most telling conclusions that Gottman has come to is that telling each other everything that is bugging you and then proceeding to resolve it is a fairy tale. People simply cannot agree with each other on all things. If you believe there should be a complete absence of conflict in your relationship, you are opening yourself up to a whole host of problems.
Relationships that work are not the ones that have zero conflicts; they are the ones where both parties understand that there are some things that they will disagree upon. Love is understanding, not a utopia where no problems exist.
2. Myth – You should never hurt each other’s feelings.
This is another piece of advice that is based on some romantic ideal that does not exist in reality. Guess what, we are all people with our own flaws and shortcomings, and these flaws exist even when you are involved in a relationship. If you want someone who never questions your decisions and always panders to your ego, you should try dating a robot.
Having a partner who calls you out when you are doing something wrong, even if it might bruise your ego, is extremely necessary in relationships. If you are going to be spending a large amount of time around each other, you have to keep each other honest. You will still hold hands, watch the sunset, and go for long walks on the beach. But occasionally, you need to tell each other if something the other person is doing is just plain wrong or unhealthy. The most successful relationships are not ones where you flare up at everything that the other person might find wrong about you. Assess the information objectively, make changes where required and keep y our ego out of the equation.
3. Myth – Sticking with a bad relationship because undying love prevails through all hardships.
Pop culture is to blame for a lot of the dating misinformation that is prevalent in society today. We have seen a thousand stories of two people who seem completely wrong for each other, who fight and argue constantly, but still ‘stick it out’ and eventually ride into the sunset together. This form of desperate and needy behaviour is not simply accepted, it is idealised.
Sticking with a partner who is making you completely miserable just because they might be ‘the one’ is a fallacy. Sometimes you just need to realize that maybe you are not right for each other. Moreover, when you do realize this, you should be willing to walk away. Sometimes, getting out of another person’s life is the best thing you can do for them, and for yourself.
4. Myth – In the perfect relationship, you only have eyes for each other.
Despite what Harlequin romance novels would like to tell you, when you are in a committed relationship, the entire world does not just cease to exist. Even if you are in a loving relationship, you will come across other people during your day-to-day life that you feel attraction towards them. You might come across a hot girl or guy at the gym and feel a pang of desire. You might bump into a coffee waiter with the cutest smile you have seen in a while. Society would have you believe that this is a most shameful occurrence because you are in some way being unfaithful to your partner. This is just false.
Instead of driving yourself crazy with guilt because you found another person desirable in some way, accept the feelings for what they are and then let go of them. What makes your commitment and love strong is the fact that you feel these things and do not act on them, not the notion that love turns everyone else invisible.
5. Myth – You should always spend time and do things together.
You have heard the expression – familiarity breeds contempt. It holds true across all lifestyles. If you have your favourite brand of ice-cream seven days in a row, you might not be too excited about it when day eight comes around. If you watch your favourite movie or listen to your favourite song too many times over, you might lose your affection for it.
However, for some unknown reason, people ignore this advice when it comes to their relationships. Much like anything else, there is such a thing as spending too much time with the person of your dreams. Before you met them, you had your own life, things you loved to do, people you liked to meet. Just because you are in a relationship now does not mean you completely abandon the person you were before.
It is incredibly necessary to spend some time apart from each other where you both do your own thing, maybe meet some friends or even go on a trip without your significant other. Do not smother each other until the ‘love’ becomes suffocating.
6. Myth – Your partner is the most perfect person in the world.
To put it simply, no. They are not. We all have our insecurities, quirks, hopes, and dreams, and none of us are mystical Zen masters who are completely devoid of suffering or weakness. You should learn to accept that your partner, as wonderful as they are for you, are still fundamentally human and therefore prone to the same problems as everyone else.
Love is not logical. What attracts us to each other and drives us crazy with longing and desire is not logical either. Therefore, you should find someone who is the right kind of crazy for you. Let your imperfections complement each other, and celebrate the fact that you are both together despite them.
If you are reading this and have had a few moments of revelation, do not allow them to pass by. Act on what you have connected with, and consider objectively the information that might sound offensive to you at first glance. Love is a work in progress, and so are we. Make sure you are not doing the wrong things before you start setting things right.