It all starts beautifully: dates, tenderness, care for one another, long conversations when each small thing seems to be so significant. But after a year or two it turns out that your relationship is not going where you wanted it to, and you get offended and fight often. Does it sound familiar?
Here at Bright Side, we decided to publish Irina Chesnova’s article about the ten misconceptions that stand in the way of a happy relationship. These errors are easy to acknowledge and to prevent from happening in your life. Not only does this method work for romantic relationships, it’s also is useful when you are trying to build relationships with your parents, children or friends.
1. Depending on stereotypes
In our lives we often depend on popular opinion, cultural myths, gender stereotypes and rules that are made up by our parents.
’’All blondes are stupid, and all bosses are idiots,’’ ’’Boys don’t cry, girls don’t fight,’’ ’’You can’t have bad feelings towards someone you love,’’ ’’In a happy family people spend all their free time together,’’ ’’There is no true love without pain and suffering.’’
Stereotypes are obstacles that restrict our life. As ’’products’’ of strict gender education, when we dream about relationships we often don’t look for a personality in an individual, we just want to see certain traits, like, ’’A man must be an achievement-oriented go-getter,’’ or, ’’A woman must be feminine and she has to devote herself to her family.’’ As a result, we are not ready to accept a person for what he or she is and we can’t make peace with his or her drawbacks and foibles, even if we really like the person and we are meant to be together.
2. Illusions and unrealistic expectations
We bring our dreams and fantasies (however subconscious those might be) into all of our relationships, especially romantic ones. We paint a picture of a great future and attribute perfect traits to our loved one. We make this person a part of our life even if he or she has not promised us anything yet.
Another illusion we develop is that we are able to control our partner and his or her desires and feelings in order to make this person behave like we want him or her to. One more illusion is that marriage is an indestructible sanctuary and the one who is with us now will be there ’’till death do us part’’; that his or her view on life is identical to ours and he or she always feels exactly the same way we do.
These illusions and expectations block a real person from our view. We are cherishing our own dreams without noticing the actual person who is there in front of us, not knowing what this person is truly fit for.
3. High-maintenance relationships
When Prince Charming or Princess Leia enters your life, you make up names for future babies and write down everything minutely and in detail. Here’s what comes next: «Hey, why aren’t you doing what I expect you to do?’’ or, ’’You are a man, you have to do this!’’, ’’You’re a woman, you have to do that!’’
4. What’s done can’t be undone
Many people link love and like-mindedness. If we are sure that we think alike and enjoy similar things, we get an illusion of intimacy, unity and safety. People tend to get very sensitive towards any difference that emerges in this kind of trouble-free environment. ’’You are not like I imagined you to be, you feel differently, you have a different opinion, you don’t understand me which means you don’t love me!’’ ’’We are not fit for each other.’’ ’’You are not compassionate (not tough, not successful).’’ ’’You are cruel (you are not supportive, you don’t do much about the house).’’ ’’Why? You have to change! Give up your hobby/quit your job/ lose weight/ change your hairstyle.’’
What we don’t understand is that we fell in love with this person the way he or she is, with all those imperfections. It’s impossible to change another person. A person changes only if he or she is the one who wants to change.
5. Attempting to dominate a relationship
Sometimes we want to be the boss, to lead, control, advice, patronize, own another person completely, suffocate him or her with your love and impose your concept of happiness on another person. In more complicated cases, to restrain, undervalue and violate boundaries without ever admitting one’s mistakes.
You can spot this kind of behavior even when your relationship has just started. There are people with certain personality types who, when they are passionate about someone, grant an exclusive status to the ’’apple of their eye.’’
During the rose and candy stage, a man like this is going to fuss over you, carry you shoulder high, care about you and tell everyone how great and one-of-a-kind you are. However, as soon as he stops trembling of admiration, you will be surprised to witness the beginning of total depreciation: he will point out your drawbacks, raise claims and insult you.
My advice would be not to buy into this kind of care and not to get involved before you get to know the person well enough. Not only should you pay attention to the way he is treating you, you should also be aware of how this person treats other people (parents, friends, colleagues and exes), what he says about them and how he behaves around them. You don’t want it to look like he loved you so much, but as soon as you move in together (or get married or start a family), he suddenly became a jerk. Well, he didn’t become a jerk. He always was one.
6. The reverse of a previous point: losing yourself in a relationship
What if you are ready to melt in love for another person, making all his or her wishes come true by always conforming to what he or she wants. Admit it: deep down inside you are waiting for some poetic justice, for gratitude, devotion, similar dedication or just a vague, ’’one day he or she will understand.’’
Unfortunately, if you don’t value yourself, other people won’t value and respect you as well. If you don’t love yourself, no one will love you according to your merits.
7. Communication breakdown
A communication breakdown is something that happens when, instead of open and safe cooperation, clear requests, compromise and peaceful discussions that reflect your feelings, there is criticism, complaints, blame games and mixed signals. That’s when people listen but don’t hear, and if something goes wrong, they keep their distance and remain silent while thinking, ’’He or she should understand what I want without my help.’’
8. The games
It feels like there are more and more of these in our lives now. ’’I won’t say yes to him, let him chase me’’ or, ’’Treat them mean, keep them keen.’’
Rules for «the game» are similar to the ones of any unhealthy relationship: disrespect to another person and negligence towards personal dignity.
You should at once get rid of an illusion that one day the game will boil over into a durable relationship of two equal partners. If there is no respect in the beginning, there is no chance of ever getting it. Eventually you’ll find out that: a) it’s not love and your relationship doesn’t have a solid foundation; b) you don’t know how to negotiate with your partner about important things; c) you don’t even have a clue about who the person you’ve been with actually is.
If you think that games represent a reflection of an entertaining and fulfilling life, you are 100% correct. Yes, they are entertaining and fulfilling, but only in a reflection.
9. Pretending to be someone you are not
Once I heard someone mention the ’’rotten bananas theory.’’ The theory is that each person has his or her bad points, and when a relationship just starts we tend to hide those ’’rotten bananas’’ behind our back while showing off the best of us.
If wе can’t be true to ourselves, maybe we should ’’fix’’ something in our own view of life and self-esteem.
10. After all, most mistakes are made out of fear
We are afraid to approve ourselves, we are afraid of intimacy, afraid to be absorbed by love. Or sometimes, it’s the other way around; we fear solitude, false choices and mistakes.
However, every mistake is an instructive experience, and we have a right to make mistakes because they help us learn something new.
Remember: if you build your relationships with ’’wrong’’ people and fall into the same trap time and time again, it means that you need this experience for something. It will help you realize that something is wrong and should be done differently.
Everything that happens in your life is right on target. If you fail, if you break up with someone, it only shows that you don’t really need that person in your life at this period of time.
’’If it is yours, it will come back to you. If it doesn’t, it was never yours.’’