As originally published on MindBodyGreen.
Each one of us carries ideas around about what a healthy relationship looks like or “should” look like. This typically comes from our upbringing, the relationships we see around us, and more. Yet these common beliefs about “healthy” relationships often create and reinforce stereotypes, many of which can do more harm than good.
While maintaining standards for what you want a “healthy relationship” to look like is a totally OK thing to do, many of these thoughts are just cultural myths that oversimplify issues most relationships inevitably face.
Identifying the relationship myths that we hold can be beneficial to the overall health and longevity of our relationships, as it frees us from making assumptions and helps us to live more in the present moment.
Here are 10 myths about so-called “healthy” relationships that many of us may have.
#1 – “Conflict means the relationship isn’t healthy.”
This is quite the opposite actually. The total absence of conflict in a relationship is more a red flag that problems are being repressed rather than discussed. By allowing conflicts to happen, both partners openly acknowledge and work through issues, which, by the way, are basically unavoidable in any relationship, romantic or not. In doing so, the relationship deepens and becomes stronger.
#2 – “We both have to have the same views on everything.”
Do we need to accommodate all of our partner’s needs 24/7 in order to be with them? Sure, but only to some degree. That is, we don’t have to agree or be on the same page about every single thing in order to have a healthy relationship.
Two people can have wildly different view points on things and still have a healthy relationship. After all, there are people in this world who have healthy relationships despite differing religious/spiritual views, cultural backgrounds, and political views. It boils down to a matter of both people accepting and respecting one another.
#3 – “A happy and fulfilling relationship requires having common interests.”
Though having some common interests can make it easier on what to do on a Saturday night date, it’s not an absolute deal breaker. What matters more is that there is a lively dynamic between you two, and one characterized by feelings of love and support.
#4 – “There is a certain criteria that all must follow in order to have a healthy relationship.”
This myth is the paramount myth: the mere idea that there is one ideal of a “healthy” relationship.
But when you think about it more carefully, doesn’t it seem obvious that there’s no “one size fits all” criteria? Everybody is different, and very complicated, so why shouldn’t our relationships be that way, too? Each of us has our own fears, desires, neuroses, needs, past experiences and more. That’s why we have to do what works for us and our particular relationship.
#5 – “As long as I really try to not do what my parents did, I will have a healthy relationship.”
The problem with heavily focusing on not doing what our parents did is this: We may end up trying so hard to not be like our parents that we end up causing other problems. So we must focus more on healing ourselves rather than to simply avoid doing what our parents did.
#6 – “There will always be romance.”
The romance may last a few years, but the truth is that it’s going to calm down at some point or another. It’s not something that is just going to always be there automatically.
#7 – “If I’m with the right person, I won’t have to really work that hard at it.”
Any one individual is incredibly complicated. So once you put two people together, everything becomes so much more so. I like to think that our relationships are assignments to help us grow and evolve. The challenges that come up during our relationships invite us to examine ourselves, and undergo some personal growth every single day.
#8 – “In order for this relationship to work, my partner must change.”
The reality is that we have no control over our partner or anyone else in our life. The only person that we have control over is ourselves.
#9 – “Being in a healthy relationship means my partner is going to know my needs and meet them all the time.”
It is not anybody else’s responsibility to take care of you and your needs. Only you are responsible for that — just as your partner is responsible for their own needs as well.
#10 – “All we need is love to make a marriage work.”
When it comes to marriage, there are a lot of things to deal with: finding a place to live, working with finances, deciding whether to have kids and, if so, deciding on how they are going to be raised.
Sure, love can be a motivator to get us to work through these things together but we can’t just say, “Oh, all we need is love” and brush the rest under the rug thinking it will just “work itself out.” All these factors need to be openly talked about and agreements need to be made.