A great relationship can add wonder and beauty to your life. It's exciting. It's fun. It's sexy... but we often expect the wrong things.
Let's look at 5 common myths that most of us believe, and how they limit us.
MYTH #1 - A relationship will make me happier than I can be on my own
We're convinced this is true, and yet we've all experienced relationships in which we felt moments of...
"Oh my God this is so difficult, why am I in this situation? I just want to escape."
The reality is, no one can make you happy, except yourself.
Happiness is not something that comes from outside of you- it's a perspective that you develop in how you see the world and the things that happen to you,
In relationships, it's essential to understand this. Your relationship partner can pour you a glass of wine, and to them this is caring. But it is only you that can choose whether to see that glass as half-full or half-empty.
This myth is probably the most important one to conquer if you want a good life, with good relationships. Happiness is its own thing, and no one can give it to you, no matter how hard they try.
If you maintain the unhelpful belief that relationship = happiness,
- Your attention will be focused on the wrong things as the source of your happiness... things outside of you, instead of inside of you.
- You will be giving the responsibility for your emotions to someone else, intead of owning them yourself.
- You will put huge stress on your partner. You are asking them to do the impossible- to control the internal state of your mind and bring you happiness.
- You will put huge stress on yourself. How do you make your partner happy? Sure you can add some nice moments to their day, but will they appreciate it? You can't make that happen.
- You will put huge stress on your relationship.
At the start of a relationship, we easily confuse good feelings, like those produced by dopamine & oxytocin as happiness. Excitement is not happiness. Those neurotransmitters serve a biological purpose, and fade when their job is done.
When you are in a relationship with the belief "hey, this person is supposed to make me feel good" then you will feel devastated as the relationship matures, and your dopamine & oxytocin levels become normal.
Love is a decision first, and then a feeling, not the other way around.
Own your own happiness. Others cannot give it to you, so stop asking them for it. Know the difference between feeling good, and being in a good relationships.
MYTH #2 - A relationship will make me more financially / emotionally / socially secure than I can be on my own
That's a great fantasy, and it might possibly be true for certain people, at certain times, in certain relationships. But this is never guaranteed, can change in a moment.
Don't gamble mindlessly with your future.
What if your partner gets sick, or has a car accident?
What if your partner leaves you and takes half of everything?
What if your partner has an affair, and the whole world finds out?
These things can happen to you, no matter how careful you are, how good a partner you are, or how good a partner you've chosen.
Relationships come with as much risk as they do benefit - keep your perspective clear and you'll be prepared for any eventuality.
MYTH #3 - Longer relationships are better
Have you ever held on to a relationship, just a bit longer, because letting go felt like a failure? I certainly have.
Many of my clients have held onto relationships for years past the point where they felt any sense of joy, fulfillment, or benefit from the relationship.
In some cases, people will enter a place of deep unhappiness and despair about their relationship, and realise that they and their partner have very different life values and goals. Yet even then, people will still hold on.
That relationship would have been far better, if it had all the good parts, and less of the lengthy, sad, slow-death ending.
- The lives of both people would have been improved, giving more good experiences to each other, and more good memories.
- The friendship would have been protected, and allowed the relationship to change gracefully into something beautiful-but-different, rather than dying sadly.
- Each person's appreciation of the relationship when it finished would be greater.
- Life is short enough. Spending years in an unhealthy, unfulfilling relationship is probably not the best way to spend it.
The reality is, it's not the length of a relationship that makes it special, it's the depth.
It's about the quality of the connection with your partner. It took me some time to fully understand this, but I recently had the wonderful joy of a 2 month relationship, which was far, far better than any the long-term relationships that I fought so hard to protect. My three 7 year relationships pale in comparison. I get it now.
In love, relationships, and all things in life - pursue quality over quantity.
MYTH #4 - As long as I am a good partner, my relationship will still be here tomorrow
Lets be real- the future cannot be known. Even in the most perfect relationship, with the most perfect couple, one of you will most likely die first and the other will be left to grieve their loss.
Most of your life is not under your control, including quite a bit of your own personal health & safety. What is it exactly that makes you believe that you can guarantee someone else's health & safety, and ensure their participation in your life?
We are living, breathing things, someday our life will end. Just as importantly, being alive means that every day we are changing. If you've ever been in a 3 year relationship- that person you met at the start of the relationship is not the same person you were dating 3 years later.
Carpe diem. Value every day of your relationship, and be very real that tomorrow is not guaranteed. You'll appreciate your life, relationship, and partner much more fully.
MYTH #5 - A committed, exclusive relationship is better, deeper, and emotionally more connected than a non-committed, non-exclusive one
Whoa, buddy. Hold up there.
Yes, this is a tricky concept, and it feels very confronting to a lot of people.
When we consider being in a non-exclusive relationship, we often immediately feel threatened. We imagine that we are not special to someone, and we are insecure about our connection with this person.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with committed, exclusive relationships - and given a choice, I would personally prefer this kind of relationship with someone.
But I'm also clear that that commitment & exclusivity are not the elements that makes a relationship special and worthwhile.
You can meet someone in your life who can have a profoundly positive impact on you and your world, even if they are never "yours." If you can embrace that, you may meet people who bring you joy, experience & growth that you never imagined.
Wow, this all sounds pretty harsh. So why bother having a Relationship?
Because a good, healthy relationship, with the right expectations, can be great.
Once you have your perspective on relationships sorted, and are no longer expecting the wrong things, you're in a good position to see the real beauty that a relationship can add to your life.
A good relationship is simply incredible, and can improve your life in many, many ways. Here are my personal favourites.
- As a companion. Life is a journey, and there can be a lot of joy in sharing your experiences with someone who is special to you. Simply having someone close, who shares your values and goals, and can enjoy every day of life with you.
- As a life partner. A good relationship can challenge & support you in your personal growth, your fitness, your learning, and more. Just like a good business partner, or training partner, 2 people working together is often far more powerful than 1 person working alone.
- Sex! and more Sex! Sure, sex can be fun with anyone- but in a good relationship, you can share a deep and frequent sexual connection, with someone that you trust and feel emotionally connected to. The more you learn about them, and the more they learn about you, the better the sex gets. It's important to point out that this isn't automatic- it takes commitment, respect, and great communication. More on that in a future post.
- Children. Clearly it takes 2 to make children, but even after the fun part, raising them is much easier when you have at least 2 parents.
Enjoy your relationships. Love the people you care about. Respect first- both yourself, and your partner. Be willing to let go, if it's time. Know your goals, and your reason for being there. Communicate clearly.
Appreciate every moment like it's the last.
BROJO: Confidence. Clarity. Connection.
Join BROJO - the premier international self-development community - it's completely free!
- Connect with like-minded people who will support you with your goals and issues
- Overcome people-pleasing and Nice Guy Syndrome to build strong social confidence
- Get access to exclusive email courses to learn advanced social skills, how to master your psychology, proven career progression techniques and more!
Does Time Heal All Wounds?
I used to think so, but... it seems time doesn't help as much as you'd expect with mental trauma.
Except when you die, of course, we assume.
I recently coached a man who was still missing his girlfriend from high school. They dated for only 2 months. He last saw her 34 years ago, and has not had contact with her since. 34 years... mind-blowing.
The mind reinforces what you choose to think about consciously, and it surfaces memories and imagery attached to what it wants & needs emotionally.
When you experience trauma, I see people heal much faster and more completely if they approach it the same as, say, a broken leg. Get it set right, attended too, care for it. Don't walk on it for awhile, then once it's sound, re-strengthen it and rebuild the muscles with exercise. Done right, it will be stronger than it was before it was broken.