Ten Relationship Myths
Think your relationship is a failure because you and your partner aren't following certain "rules" or meeting certain standards? Dr. Phil blows the whistle on 10 of the most common but dangerous relationship myths.
MYTH #1: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP DEPENDS ON A GREAT MEETING OF THE MINDS
- You will never see things through your partner's eyes because you are two entirely different people. You are genetically, physiologically, psychologically and historically different.
- You will not solve your relationship problems by becoming more alike in your thinking. Men and women are wired differently. Attempting to blur your fundamentally different viewpoints is unnatural and even dangerous.
- Recognize that a relationship is far more enjoyable when you're with someone who enriches your life, not simply reflects it. Appreciate your differences.
- Yes, your life with your partner should include plenty of romance. But don't kid yourself and expect an unrealistic Hollywood fairytale. The truth is that in the real world, being in love is not like falling in love.
- Falling in love is only the first stage of love. It's impossible to remain in that stage. A mature relationship will shift from dizzying infatuation to a deeper, more secure love.
- Don't make the common mistake of thinking that when the initial wild passion fades you aren't in love anymore. The answer is not to start a new relationship so you can recapture that emotional high with someone else. The answer is to learn how to move on to the next stages of love for a different but richer experience.
- Don't fall into the trap of believing that you and your partner can't be happy if you can't resolve your serious disagreements. Ninety percent of problems in a relationship are not solvable.
- There are things that you and your partner disagree about and will continue to disagree about. Why can't you once and for all resolve these issues? Because in order to do so, one of you would have to sacrifice your values and beliefs.
- You can simply agree to disagree and reach "emotional closure" even though you haven't reached closure on the issue.
MYTH #4: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES COMMON INTERESTS THAT BOND YOU TOGETHER FOREVER
- There is nothing wrong with your relationship if you don't share common interests and activities.
- If you and your partner are forcing yourselves to engage in common activities but the results are stress, tension and conflict, don't do it!
MYTH #5: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP IS A PEACEFUL ONE
- Don't be afraid to argue because you think it's a sign of weakness or relationship breakdown. Even the healthiest couples argue.
- If approached properly, arguing can actually help the relationship by (a) releasing tension and (b) instilling the sense of peace and trust that comes from knowing you can release feelings without being abandoned or humiliated.
- Instead of worrying about how many times you argue, worry about how you argue. Here are some guidelines:
- Don't abandon the issue and attack the worth of your partner during an argument.
- Don't seek conflict because it's stimulating.
- Don't pursue a take-no-prisoners approach in your arguments.
- Don't avoid achieving emotional closure at the end of an argument.
MYTH #6: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP LETS YOU VENT ALL YOUR FEELINGS
- Getting things off your chest might feel good, but when you blurt something out in the heat of the moment, you risk damaging your relationship permanently. Many relationships are destroyed when one partner can't forgive something that was said during uncensored venting.
- Before you say something you might regret, bite your tongue and give yourself a moment to consider how you really feel. The things we say while we're letting loose often don't represent how we really feel and shouldn't be communicated — especially if they are potentially destructive.
MYTH #7: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX
- The belief that sex is not important is a dangerous and intimacy-eroding myth. Sex provides an important time-out from the pressures of our daily lives and allows us to experience a quality level of closeness, vulnerability and sharing with our partners.
- Sex might not be everything but it registers higher (90 percent) on the "importance scale" if it's a source of frustration in your relationship. If your sex life is unfulfilled, it becomes a gigantic issue. On the other hand, couples that have satisfying sex lives rate sex at only 10 percent on the "importance scale."
- Don't restrict your thinking by considering sex to be something that only consists of the actual physical act. Touching, caressing, holding hands and any means by which you provide physical comfort to your partner can all be viewed as part of a fulfilling sex life.
MYTH #8: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP CANNOT SURVIVE A FLAWED PARTNER
- Nobody's perfect. As long as your partner's quirks are non-abusive and non-destructive, you can learn to live with them.
- Instead of focusing on your partner's shortcomings, remember the qualities that attracted you in the first place. Perhaps some of these idiosyncrasies were part of the attraction? Just because a behavior isn't mainstream, doesn't mean that it's toxic to the relationship.
- Be careful to distinguish the difference between a partner with quirks and one with a serious problem. Serious problems that are destructive and abusive include substance abuse and mental/physical abuse. Unlike idiosyncrasies, these are not behaviors you should learn to live with.
MYTH #9: THERE IS A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO MAKE THE RELATIONSHIP GREAT
- Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no definitive "right way" to be a good spouse, good parent, or to handle any relationship challenge that life throws you.
- Do what works for you rather than following some standards you might have read in a book or heard from a well-meaning friend. If what you and your partner are doing is generating the results you want, stick with it. If both of you are comfortable with the principles that work, you can write your own rules.
- Remember not to be rigid about the way in which you accept your partner's expressions of love. There is no "right way" for someone to love you. The fact that your partner expresses feelings differently doesn't make those feelings less genuine or of less value.
MYTH #10: YOUR RELATIONSHIP CAN BECOME GREAT ONLY WHEN YOU STRAIGHTEN YOUR PARTNER OUT
- Don't fall into the trap of believing that if you could change your partner, your relationship would be better. You are, at the very least, jointly accountable for the relationship.
- Let go of the childlike notion that falling in love means finding someone who will be responsible for your happiness. You need to take responsibility for your own happiness.
- If your relationship is distressed, the most important person for you to change might be yourself. Once you identify the payoffs you are subconsciously seeking with destructive behavior, you can choose to remove them from your life.