Love: the “buy in”

Originally published at destinyconnect.com

Do you believe that when you meet the right partner, you’ll just know? Or that there will be instant fireworks and sex all the time? In real life, love comes quietly, shattering all these preconceived notions. We investigate love myths and how they can “ruin” the relationship

No matter what your parents, friends or media may be telling you, there are very few universal standards your relationship “should” be conforming to. The sooner you accept this, the greater your chance of finding a fulfilling relationship. We speak to Johannesburg-based relationship counsellor Lauren Clucas to uncover some relationship myths and ways to release them.

Common relationship myths
Clucas explains that our relationship myths originate from “our hard-wiring, the role modeling that we followed and conditioning from society and family systems”. We discuss five widely-held relationship myths.

1. The honeymoon phase is love. “Real love starts after the honeymoon is over,” says Clucas. American talk show psychologist Dr Phil McGraw explains further: “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”.
2. Good sex belongs to single years. “Sex gets better with increased trust, intimacy and creativity,” says Clucas. Satisfying sex is an essential part of a committed relationship. If sex is a problem it assumes 90% of importance in a relationship, whereas a good sexual connection only comprises 10% of relationship importance, explains Dr Phil.
3. Relationships with conflict spell doom. According to Clucas, when conflict is managed well it can lead to greater intimacy and relationship security. Releasing anger or tension in a productive way without fear is a vital aspect of a healthy relationship. Always seek emotional closure when conflict arises.
4. We know our partners minds and hearts. It is impossible to always know what our partner is thinking. “Assumptions lead to misunderstandings – direct and honest communication is a necessity,” says Clucas. “You will never see things through your partner’s eyes because you are two entirely different people” explains Dr Phil.
5. A great relationship requires common interests. Many couples worry that their interests are too different. “If you and your partner are forcing yourselves to engage in common activities but the results are stress and conflict, don’t do it!” says Dr Phil. Individual growth makes you a better spouse, you don’t have to share every personal passion with your partner. Shared values are far more important.

Relationship failure?
It is easy to think that your relationship is heading for failure when your idea of what love “should be” does not measure up to reality. We thereby set ourselves up for disappointment and risk falling into patterns of resentment, judgement, punishment, and withdrawal of love, cautions Clucas.

Positive steps
A couple’s ability to “confess to their disappointment and claim responsibility for their part in the outcome as well as to clearly express (and listen to) their feelings and desires is essential,” says Clucas. “We need to become aware of our own hard-wiring so that we don’t project our “stuff” onto our partners in an attempt to hold them accountable for our past hurts and engrained beliefs”. Relationships are about compromise, and partners both have to be willing to working together to find shared happiness. Throughout your relationship highs and lows, maintain your sense of humour. “Love essentially is playful and fun,” says Clucas.

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