Let’s be honest, romance sells lies. At least, the Hollywood Romance you see on every movie or TV show. Honestly, I am not introducing Disney to my son, not with those false messages of romance and gendered stereotypes. That’s not to say I don’t love my childhood, especially The Little Mermaid, but I want to make sure my son understands the lies society sells on romance and the truths of love.
Romantic Lie #1: Bigger is Better
Truly, think about all the shows and movies you’ve watched. The message is that the bigger and grander the gesture, the more that individual loves them. That isn’t always true. In fact, it’s the small things on a daily basis that count the most!
Do you really expect your partner to go out of their way to make grand gestures on the regular? Realistically, that is impossible to achieve. Most wouldn’t have the financial means, nor the level of creativity it would take to keep up that pace. I have told my husband on many counts that he doesn’t have to do something huge to impress me. I rather find a little love note on my laptop when I open it than some huge fancy getaway or surprise. That’s not to say the big gestures aren’t nice, but they are not the make-or-break factor.
Truth: It’s The Small Things That Count
Romantic Lie #2: Love is a Feeling
Love is not a feeling, it’s a choice. Love is a verb. Love is Action. Society teaches us that love is a feeling. At the beginning of relationships, hormones are rushing! You literally are on a drug in that first stage of love, so of course, society portrays love as a feeling. But society only shows that first stage where everything is good and happy. The classic romance movies only show the couple falling in love. Movies don’t often show the relationships after being together for years. There are going to be hardships and troubling times in relationships, and those are the times where you need to remember love is a choice.
Truth: Love is a verb- it’s action!
Romantic Lie #3: Love Yourself First
Society teaches us that if we love ourselves first we then can love another. Now, I do think as individuals we need to be able to be compassionate to ourselves, but if we are talking about love and attachment then it’s wrong to say “only when you love yourself first, can you love another.”
As humans, we need each other. We need others. It’s okay to not be the best at loving yourself and have everything perfect before meeting your partner. You don’t need to be perfect for a relationship to work, you just need to be self-aware and working to be the best version of yourself!
Sometimes it’s hard to love yourself when you never had someone to teach you. I know that with myself and my husband, he didn’t have the traditional role model to learn what relationships are about, and how to love yourself and another individual. We have both learned from each other how to love each other better but also how to truly love ourselves, faults and all. Sometimes you need a little help from another person. Sometimes there’s shame getting in the way, and someone needs to break through that shame to help you connect to yourself.
Truth: It’s Okay To Struggle With Loving Yourself!
Romantic Lie #4: Dependency Is Weak
Now, I want to say that this lie is only a lie because of the way the word “dependency” has been taught. We are all human beings and historically we have all depended on others to survive. We are pack animals for a reason.
Psychology 101: Co-Dependancy versus Interdependancy.
Co-dependancy: is an unhealthy type of relationship where an individual has no sense of themselves and relies on another person to figure out how they are feeling.
Interdependency: is a healthy type of relationship where the two are individuals but are also able to rely on one another and know that they each have each other’s back.
Interdependency is not really talked about in society to my knowledge. Dr. Sue Johnson is an expert on relationships and attachment and talks about how interdependency is a positive sign of a healthy relationship and oftentimes because of societal associations with the word “dependency” people are reluctant to rely on their partners.
Being able to say, “I need help with X” is not weak. It’s a sign of strength and knowing oneself and their abilities to handle things. On the other hand, being clingy, needy, and not knowing their own identity and boundaries and relying on you to gauge how they are and who they are is not healthy.
Truth: Interdependency is a good thing!
Romantic Lie #5: Relationships Are Easy
For those who are regular Millennial readers, you know that this one gets under my skin. I can rant about this one for hours. But to keep it simple, I will say what you have probably seen a lot on Millennial:
Relationships are a 24/7 job, you don’t get a day off!
Like, what is so hard to understand about that? Relationships are work, they take effort, and if you want a successful relationship, you need to put in the effort. It’s like a car or a plant. You need to take care of them to keep them living and running. Plants need sun and water, if they don’t have that, they die. If a car doesn’t get oil changes regularly, then the car won’t run as well and there could be potential damage.
If you aren’t present in your relationship, daily, then things will build up. Resentments sink in, communication fails, arguments ensue. That’s no way to have a relationship. But, if you communicate daily, put in the effort for some little romantic gestures here and there, and actually work as a team, then you will have a solid relationship!
Truth: Relationships are a 24/7 job that you don’t get a day off from
Romantic Lie #6: Romance Solves Your Problems
Hell no! In fact, it can add to your problems! Think about it, if you have problems before entering a relationship, you’re adding another person, with their own potential problems as well. Two people with problems do not cancel each other out. In fact, if those problems are unresolved prior to getting into the relationship, I can say with confidence, your relationship will be a bumpy ride, especially if you’re hiding things!
Going from single to being in a relationship can be a tough adjustment for some, especially depending on their values and upbringing. To be stereotypical, if a guy who has been single his whole life, who went out to bars at all hours, did what he wanted when he wanted enters a relationship… his life is about to change dramatically. He now has to start thinking about his partner in his decisions, and if he has never had to think about anyone but himself, then the adjustment can be tough.
Truth: You Solve Your Problems, Not Your Partner
Romantic Lie #7: Feelings Are Weak
Nooooo! They aren’t, they are sexy! They are what allows your partner to get to know you, on a deeper level. It’s special. Sharing your feelings creates intimacy. Society teaches men to hide their feelings because it means you’re weak. It Does Not. It means you’re human!
Feelings are everchanging and are a basic part of being human. Women and men both feel things deeply and there is nothing shameful about that. We all have our struggles, battles, and challenges to overcome and it’s okay to feel things along this journey called life.
I know some feelings can be scary, and hell, painful! But, allowing yourself to feel them, rather than repressing or suppressing is so much better!
Psychology 101: Repression versus Suppression
Repression: This is a psychological defense mechanism that comes from Freud, where an individuals mind protects themselves by essentially hiding memories. These memories might be too painful to face, or can lead to a psychological breakdown, hence why the mind hides them is the theory. Repression happens unconsciously.
Ex: Memory of being abused as a child.
Suppression: This is another psychological defense mechanism from Freud and is in our conscious awareness. We consciously push these thoughts and feelings away. Suppression happens consciously to some level.
Ex. Feeling angry at your spouse for forgetting your anniversary and pushing those feelings down for the “better” of the relationship.
Truth: Feelings Are A Sign Of Being Human
Do You Still Find Your Relationship Desirable?
Sorry to burst your bubble, if I have. Relationships are wonderful, and honestly, can be one of the best things in your life. Yes, relationships are work, yes you put in the effort, yes they can be hard, but they are so worth it!
Think, if you have a partner right now, do you love them? Do they make you smile? Do they brighten your day? What would life be like without them?
Yes, relationships are not perfect, but they can be healthy, connected, and intimate. If you are struggling in your relationship, there is no shame about that! Seriously, none at all. Communication is hard. Getting to know someone can be challenging. Balancing your needs and their needs is a delicate procedure. Really, relationships are about communication, expectations, and learning to bring two lives and needs together.
If you are struggling with communication, connection, sexual fulfillment, check out my Relationship Evolution coaching program.