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It’s been over 19 years since I looked at my partner, after only knowing him for three months and thought, “yep, this is the one I will be with forever.”
Well, thank God for naïveté, is all I have to say about that.
Because I definitely didn’t know what I was getting into when I said those words to myself, but I am grateful I made the decision to enter our relationship, that continues to this day.
Somehow, some of us are willing to take the leap from being alone to sharing our homes, our bodies, our finances, our choices and our time.
I think a big myth in our culture is that it’s easier to be in a long-term relationship than to be single and that people in long-term relationships feel safer and more secure.
But the thing about marriages and relationships is that they are private. What a couple shows to the public world and what happens behind closed doors is different.
These are some myths about long-term relationships worth addressing.
1. People in long-term relationships are sure their partner is the one.
Doubt is one of the most common experiences we have. If we aren’t sure what type of cereal to buy for breakfast how are we going to be sure we are with the right partner. When we are feeling in sync with our partner, and having fun, we are probably more sure we have made a good choice in a mate than when we are fighting about the dishes, finances or sex. It doesn’t matter if we are newly dating a man or woman or been married for 20 plus years, we will always doubt sometimes, and since there is no such thing as a perfect partner anyway, it is no surprise that we might wonder what it might be like to be in relationship with a different human. I think we just have to crack this one up to being normal.
2. People feel safer when they are in long-term relationships.
I think many people feel the exact opposite of feeling safe in their relationship. I know it can be scary to be alone. It can feel loveless, like the weight of all of our decisions and choices are on our own shoulders. Many single people I know think it would be much easier to get through day to day life if only they had a mate. But being in a relationship can also be terrifying. Having to rely on our partner to be responsible with finances, caring for our sexual needs, being responsive to our words and feelings is the true meaning of vulnerable. Feeling unsafe is human nature. We have terribly strong survival mechanisms and they kick in all the time. Whether we are single or in a long-term relationship, each of us, on our own, is responsible for finding ways to feel safer in the world. Nobody, not even a long-term partner, can do this for us.
3. People in relationships are less lonely.
I think we are all lonely. In the end the only person with us all the time is ourselves. And comparing ourselves to other people is one of the best ways to stay lonely. The mom at home with a new baby sees her single friends out partying and thinks they aren’t lonely while the single men out meeting the ladies are envying the dad at home with his young kids who take up all his time. Being in a relationship can increase loneliness because we can easily have expectations that our partners should be there for us. But we live in a busy world and often we are running in opposite directions than the one we love, struggling to find time to connect. Making a choice to live a life that is fulfilling in its own merit, regardless of who our companions are, is probably the only way to reduce loneliness.
Being in a long-term relationship is one of the pleasurable options of the human experience. But the fact that we are in a relationship does not gurantee that we will be sure of our choice, feel safe and not be lonely. It is just another opportunity to work on developing these skills for ourselves.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock