Posted by on 12th July 2019

The Five Relationship Lies We’ve Been Fed for Years Hurt Everyone

In my teens and twenties I was your typical relationship pessimist. My parent’s marriage seemed a thing of evil, and I couldn’t understand why anyone would get married voluntarily.  Until I met my husband twenty-one years ago.

I was in my late twenties and convinced I was destined to spend my life alone. And I was okay with that. I’d realized it was better to be alone than to be lonely (or abused, or maligned, or mistreated, or disrespected) with someone else.

Now I know it’s even better to be with someone who is your best friend. Someone you love and respect, who loves and respects you back. Someone you genuinely want to make happy, and who wants to make you happy.

Focusing on each other’s happiness makes everyone happy, and life is better played as a team sport.

Not that you would know it based on what we see and hear in the media. We’ve all heard the jokes—and not just from comedians. We’ve all seen the shitty, toxic, unhealthy relationships normalized in movies, TV shows, and in far too many stories. Like that’s all fine and well and good.

Well it’s not. It’s not okay to treat people like shit—especially the ones we supposedly love. Yet we’re led to believe that’s just how relationships work. Except in romance novels, where women get to have love, respect, and more.

Here are the five most damaging modern relationship myths:

  1. The Ol’ Ball & Chain. Who the hell willingly puts a ball and chain around their ankle like a prisoner? Only people who don’t know any better. Because for years they’ve been told that’s what you expect from hetero relationships and marriage—a prison.

    Men should marry an attractive woman who gives up her own ambitions to birth and raise their kids while the men go to work, and golf, and hang out with the guys. The men are then supposed to put up with constant nagging, ridiculous overspending on frivolous stuff, or passive/aggressive behavior (which, in light of the preceding sentence, seems a pretty natural reaction).

    Not that they’re likely to treat their wife any better. Because both parties are going to be bitter and unhappy and trapped in their situation—I mean, they can’t divorce because “What about the kids???”. So now their kids grow up thinking this is normal relationship dynamic, too. Lovely.
  2. Marry for money, power, and/or looks. Find a partner who checks all the boxes on paper and damn the rest. Who cares if your morals, values, or interests are completely different? You both want marriage and financial success (and probably kids). You want to be that great-looking, “perfect” couple everyone envies. And that should be enough.

    Only it never is. Money, power, and looks are superficial and can disappear overnight. Screw that. Find someone you admire and respect, and most of all, enjoy spending time with. Someone you can have deep conversations with. Someone who laughs at your jokes. That will make you far happier.
  3. Fake it ‘til you make it. Pretend to be whoever your desired partner wants until you have them locked down in a committed relationship, then let your true colors show (usually around the six-month mark). This is a sure recipe for a happy relationship–NOT.

    Sadly, often people who fake it are afraid no one will like who they really are, but they never give anyone a chance to get to know the real person inside. And if their partner decides to break up once they realize the truth, then it’s another self-fulfilling prophecy (“I showed them the real me and got rejected. Again.”).

    Be yourself. Find people who like you for all your strange quirks and interests, instead of in spite of them.
  4. Sorry, I’ve got a headache. Women in hetero relationships don’t want or like sex. They only pretend to in the beginning to lure a man. Once married, or in a relationship for more than two years, any sex life is over (cough *bullshit* cough).

    This is likely true if the guy isn’t fully invested in making sure the woman is well-pleasured. I mean, why would women bother if they’re not getting anything out of it? It’s just another task on the to-do list (check out my recent post on this subject)?

    The big issue here is that if men believe woman don’t enjoy or want sex, they’re less likely to make an effort to ensure a woman’s enjoyment or desire. Once again, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  5. Everybody’s relationships are dysfunctional as hell, so yours is totally fine. Besides, it’s a woman’s duty to stay and support her man no matter what.

    We’ve seen this on TV for decades. I mean…Archie Bunker treated Edith like a doormat to the point it made me uncomfortable as a child. Watching Carrie let Big string her along for years on Sex in the City made me want to smack both of them. The list goes on and on.

    Then there was all the backlash against Ariana Grande for breaking up with Mac Miller a few months before he committed suicide—despite the fact he was an addict. And I haven’t even touched on all the unhealthy reality TV relationships that’ve existed since MTV invented The Real World, and The Bachelor and the Kardashian’s took over pop culture.

    Yes, healthy relationships do take work (you have to prioritize time with your partner, you have to listen and share, you have to be thoughtful), but they shouldn’t BE work. Not in the way we define work today. Instead it should be your passion project (literally and figuratively).

While much of the media perpetuates the lies, thankfully we have good romance novels to show us examples of happy, healthy, loving, supportive relationships. We need those examples, because in the end, we each must take responsibility for our relationships with others, and ourselves.

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