“I love you…the three most overused, misunderstood, and misused words in the English language.” ~ Unknown
There are more myths surrounding love than any other phenomenon in human existence.
However, thanks to books, TV shows, movies, and songs, we’ve been spoon-fed falsehoods that, although may make the most mysterious force in the universe easier to understand, are also of no practical use when it comes to actually having a relationship.
In fact, they’re downright harmful when it comes to actually having a relationship.
So, in the interest of lovers anywhere, let’s demolish some of these myths:
Myth One: If you love someone, you’ll always instantly know what to do.
In a word, no. And then, no again. Sprinkled with a small smattering of extra tiny noes.
Just because you love them does not automatically mean that you will always know what to do in any situation. You’re not telepathic. And you’re not your partner.
You cannot always accurately predict what they might need to hear or what they might need to have done at any moment. And if they’re tired, stressed, or ill, the chance of you hitting the emotional bullseye under those conditions diminishes even further.
So give yourself a break.
You can try your hardest to get to know them, to learn about their past, to learn what makes them happy or annoyed, but even then, you’ll still get more wrong than you get right. Plus, people change—what worked six months ago might just annoy them now.
Turn up and make an effort; that’s about all you can do. Try.
Over the past year, I’ve learned that the greatest thing you can do is show up. If someone is willing to put effort in, if they’re willing to make compromises for you, if they’re willing to turn up even though you’re dealing with something huge, knowing that they’re going to get little in return because your mind is elsewhere—that’s love.
Someone’s effort is a direct reflection of their interest in you. No effort equals no love. Love is effort. It’s trying; it’s turning up.
Don’t worry about getting everything right (hint: you can’t). Just try.
Myth Two: Loving the “right” person is easy.
I’m going to need an extra portion of no over here.
No, loving the “right” person isn’t easy because it’s love—it’s never easy. No single bit about love is easy, regardless of the person you’ve found.
Love is raw, messy, hard work; it involves a myriad of compromises and is made even trickier by the simple fact that your partner is…well, they’re a person. Which means they are a jumbled mass of conflicting emotions and triggers you could never possibly understand because you haven’t lived their life.
Yes, loving some people is easier than loving others. But, even so, it’s never easy. Mainly because it revolves around the one thing we humans suck at: talking. It requires you to sit there and open your mouth, even when you can’t stand the sight of your other half, to not run when things get hard, and to actually talk about things. It requires vulnerability and bravery—and when are they ever easy?
So, no, loving anyone is never easy. Ever.
If you’re looking for easy, get a tortoise.
Myth Three: It’s your partner’s job to make you happy.
Do you have any noes left? Because—surprise, surprise—it’s another no.
It’s not your partner’s job to make you happy; it’s yours. And it’s not your job to make them happy; it’s theirs.
It’s both of your jobs to make your relationship as joy-filled as possible, but your life is not on them, nor theirs on you. If they’re unhappy, that’s not solely down to you. If their life is a raging dumpster fire, that’s not your fault. Likewise, you don’t get to dump all of your misery at their feet.
A healthy relationship needs both people to take accountability for their own feelings, their own mistakes—they don’t get to simply blame you the moment they’re struggling or unhappy or tired or ill or when they’ve screwed up or are feeling overwhelmed or when something from their past raises its ugly head.
You’re not a sponge for projected blame. And neither are they.
You can help them find more happiness by being there to support them while they undertake that quest (and thus, we circle back to the whole trying thing). But their happiness does not start and end with you.
If either one of you is expecting your union to magically make your lives instantly wondrous, then you really need to have a firm talk with yourself about expectations.
Myth Four: Love conquers all.
No, it doesn’t.
Love doesn’t conquer illness or debt, or utterly negate the influence of any toxic family members you might have, or suddenly make a soul-destroying job the epitome of professional fulfillment, or…to be honest, love doesn’t conquer much, really.
It’s a potent emotion—a beautiful, life-affirming one—and it could very well be channeled to give you the motivation to help you make strides in more effectively dealing with all of the above. But love, in itself, won’t solve any of your problems.
And, although powerful, love itself can be buffeted, and even broken, by the above things. If you faced insurmountable problems in your personal life and your relationship didn’t survive, it wasn’t necessarily because you didn’t love each other enough.
Love isn’t impervious to external forces; it can be overpowered by life just as we all can. It can help you conquer life, but love cannot do it all on its own.
Myth Five: Love gives you a free pass.
And for dessert, I’ll have a small serving of no.
No, love does not give you a free pass. In fact, it’s the opposite.
Ever been hurt by someone you love? Remember that feeling? Now, have you ever been hurt by someone who, at best, could be called an acquaintance? Do me a favor, and compare the two—which one hurt more?
So, no: love does not give you an excuse to get away with things. It really doesn’t. If you do something to hurt your partner, and are then expecting instant forgiveness just because you bought them a nice present and think they love you, you need to think again.
And then again. And then a bit more just to make sure.
If you hurt your partner, the chances are they’ll love you less. So, far from giving you a free pass, it probably does the opposite. Silly.
And as for, “Love changes everything,” “All you need is love,” “Love understands love; it needs no talking,” and “The course of true love never did run smooth“? Just, no.
Actually, that last one is good: “The course of true love never did run smooth.” Yep, that sounds about right. As usual, Shakespeare’s got it—love isn’t smooth. It’s rough, messy, and hard, hard work.
That one gets a yes.
Love is wonderful. It is. It’s undoubtedly the most beautiful of all human emotions. But it’s not easy. It doesn’t overcome everything, it doesn’t make you a mind-reader, it won’t instantly transform a miserable life into one filled with singing and dancing cartoon animals, and it doesn’t let you get away with being an idiot.
But that only makes it even more special. And when we embrace the difficulties, does it make it completely and utterly worth it?