Netflix, movies, and social media are full of examples of unrealistic relationships and romantic encounters. Are people that post their cute pics on social media really that happy, or was it staged?
Sure, some are, relationships are real as they are depicted on social media, and some aren’t. Here are three of the best lies that are out there about relationships.
1. Relationships are hard work
I’ve been guilty of saying this to couples I work with to help validate that things aren’t easy. I’m also thinking that the relationship doesn’t have to be as hard as they are making it.
Now, before you say that I’m naïve, keep in mind that I’ve been working with couples for over 13 years, so I know a thing or two. As humans, we overcomplicate issues and make them bigger than they have to be.
We also struggle with being self-centered at times. This often leads us to avoid apologizing or acknowledging when we screw up. We plant our “I’m right” flag in the ground and take a stand. It’s each of our responsibilities in a relationship to “own our stuff,” meaning, when it’s our fault, we have to own it.
When we do this, we are being vulnerable with our partner and hoping they don’t attack us for what we did. The problem is that many individuals jump on this vulnerability and begin to point the finger at their partner. They chastise them for screwing up, then throw in all of the other issues they don’t like.
Then, you can guess what happens next. Then the argument cycle starts, and the reason that started the chaos is lost. Both people end up angry and stuck without having a way to end it. The struggle to stop the argument cycle is what makes relationships hard, not the relationship itself.
2. Couples therapy will make your relationship better
As a couple’s therapist, I can tell you that therapy doesn’t make every relationship better. The value of therapy is that it helps identify the underlying issue, but it won’t automatically make things better.
Yes, couples therapy exists to help you and your partner improve your relationship, but if one or both people aren’t willing to make changes, it won’t work effectively.
Most couples wait way too long to start therapy, so when they begin working with me, we have to dig out from how deep they’ve gotten. My plea would be for couples to seek therapy as early as possible, before waiting too late to ask for help.
Another issue that comes up is that one partner will begin to make the needed change to be healthier, which then shines a light on how unhealthy their partner is. Sometimes this insight combined with a partner who doesn’t want to change is enough to cause the relationship to end.
Don’t think that couple’s therapy is useless because that’s not the case. It is highly effective when each person is willing to do the work needed and able to take a deep look at themselves.
Don’t avoid giving it a try because you think it won’t work. It’s one of the items you can cross off your list that you tried when you look back at your attempts to do all you can do to save the relationship.
3. Your partner will change once _____________
Fill in the blank with any life event that will cause your partner to change their behavior magically.
Don’t be unrealistic in what you think will happen in the future. I hear this way too often. For example, “Once he becomes a parent, he’ll change” or “She’ll stop spending as much once we buy a house.”
This isn’t how it works. People don’t change once something happens. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s unrealistic to expect it to happen. Having a baby, moving to another city, or getting married doesn’t mean your partner will now decide to change.
Your partner will only change when they want to or are ready to change.
You know more than you realize
Now that you know these truths about relationships don’t feel like yours is doomed.
You know more than you realize about yourself and your relationship. Ask yourself what you can do to be your best self? When you focus on fixing areas of yourself, it will improve your relationship, and it’s the only way you’re going to see change.
Sure, it’s scary to think, “What if I change, and they don’t?” Then you’re left with having to make some difficult decisions, but I promise you that taking action on what you have control over, which is you, will help you get through this.
Don’t make your relationship harder than it has to be. Go back to the basics of why you chose your partner in the first place. Find common ground to connect. Look at your best strengths as a couple. All you can control is your actions, so be sure to keep doing the next right thing.
A clinical sexologist and psychotherapist. From sex/intimacy, personal growth, and relationships, I am here to help you every step of the way.