Are your beliefs about love setting you up for fantasy or fulfillment? Here are some common misconceptions about love and how to steer clear:
1. “Love at First Sight” means it’s right.
Not necessarily. Sometimes, indeed it IS just great chemistry. Often, however, that flash of heart-stopping attraction can mean that your unconscious mind has zeroed in on someone capable of, over time, inviting you to re-experience some of your worst childhood emotions or longing.
Instead: Give it time. Monitor how you feel about yourself and your partner as time goes on? Any red flags? Unpleasant patterns or feelings repeating themselves? You should feel trusting and valued.
Meanwhile, have you overlooked any potential partners because the attraction wasn’t instant?
2. If I still feel in love with someone from the past, he or she must be THE ONE.
If you are still pining for someone from your past, time’s a-wastin’! News Flash: There are MANY people out there whom you can love and who will love you back. Ask yourself what the hook is here, regarding your past love. Is waiting for love seemingly a part of your DNA? Work with a good therapist can help you turn this around.
3. Love Conquers ALL! (I.e., My love can change the things about my partner that worry me.)
How I wish this “Beauty and the Beast” myth were true! Unfortunately, your loved one will only change deeply ingrained behaviors he or she deems problematic and WANTS to change. This third misbelief can be especially dangerous if you ignore serious problems or accept or genuine mistreatment while taking refuge in “but we love each other”.
Instead: Remember, love is not just about feelings, but also about consistently loving actions. Make sure you don’t tolerate repetitively damaging behaviors. (Unfortunately, some of us may have learned to tolerate neglect or mistreatment in childhood, so to some part of our psyche, it may seem to be a component of love.) Do know that even in a healthy, respectful relationship, it is natural for differences to become more obvious over time. However, if you can be flexible enough to be a bit more like your partner, strive for empathy, etc., love will grow.
4. If this is a healthy relationship, things should always flow easily between us.
Overall, you should feel safe, loved, and supported. Some conflict is normal and healthy. It is conflict done from primarily defensiveness or contempt, with no resolution, which causes relational corrosion. How you handle challenges like conflict, life stressors, etc., has many factors, including your personalities, individual histories, etc. You need the tools to resolve conflict within a short period of time and to learn when to have to “agree to disagree”. Again should you feel stuck, a therapist can help you understand why and help you expand your strategies.
5. If I don’t feel in love like I used to, something is badly wrong.
Not necessarily. Our brains are structured to ramp up all those mating chemicals when we first fall in love. The intensity of that wonderful high does have to wane; it certainly doesn’t however, have to disappear altogether. It is absolutely possible to nourish the relationship and stoke all kinds of good feelings. Ana Chlipala, LMFT posted a great article, on The Gottman Relationship Blog, https://www.gottman.com/blog/10-questions-happy-couples-constantly-asking-one-another/
So, banish those myths from your love consciousness! Don’t hesitate to ask for professional assistance in moving yourself ahead into real love.
Frances M. Bledsoe, LCSW & Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy has been in private practice for over 30 years with a specialization in relational issues.
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