All the commercial hoo-hah that accompanied Valentine’s Day last month reminded me of some pernicious ideas that continue to hang around and poison far too many relationships. Let’s look at them here.
The way it is in the early weeks of the romance is how it will be forever. Then the first time he sees her in her bathrobe and bed head hair when he shows up early on a weekend morning or he shushes her when she walks into the room during the final seconds of the ball game on tv reality sets in and the bloom is off the rose. Is this what she really looks like and is this what I want to wake up to every morning for the rest of my life? Is this how he is going to treat me now that the courtship is over?
We are all on our best behavior when we meet someone we want to impress, but that is our best behavior and not our everyday stuff. It’s the everyday stuff – the no makeup old clothes look and the you are not the sole focus of my attention all the time behavior – that is the person we have to get to know and love. You have to see that person before you can know whether you are in love and not just infatuated.
“But I would do it for you!” The first time you are hurt because your partner doesn’t do something that you would automatically do for him or her out comes this silly old notion. Your partner is not you. The two of you are not the same person. Something you believe should come automatically along with love is really only what is true for you and not other people. All lovers do not send cute greeting cards on every occasion or stay home from work to bring you ginger ale when you are sick in bed. If there is some act that expresses love for you and you feel unhappy without it you need to speak up and inform your partner. If you don’t let your partner in on what it takes to make you feel loved and cared for then out will come another miserable myth:
“If you loved me you would just know and I wouldn’t have to ask.” This one is a real relationship poisoner, this belief that love automatically gives a lover second sight to just intuit what the other person wants and needs. We all need to educate someone new in our life, hand them a theoretical booklet on “The Care and Feeding of Me.” You would do it about food preferences without a second thought, saying something like “No thank you, I don’t eat sea food.” Why then is it so hard to say “In my family we always make a big fuss about birthdays and anniversaries and I feel neglected when you don’t do it too.”
“If I have to ask it isn’t worth anything.” If you don’t ask and you don’t get what you want who is the happier for it? If you walk around grumpy all day because your partner didn’t say Gesundheit when you sneezed will the other person get what’s going on? It’s much easier to simply say what you want and when you partner remembers and does it the next time let him or her know how much you appreciate it. “Thank you for remembering that’s important for me.” There is where you have your mark of caring, not in having to figure it out alone.
The next time you feel hurt or out of sorts because of something your sweetie did or failed to do back up and take a good look to see if you are a believer in one of these malicious myths and fix it. There is no place in an honest relationship for sulking when the situation can so easily be fixed by clear communication. “What I would like is….” That can’t be so hard, can it?
More baseless beliefs about courtship and love can be found here https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-sociability/201105/the-myth-the-one-right-way-part-1-dating-and-courtship, here https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-sociability/201105/the-myth-the-one-right-way-part-2-sex, and here https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-sociability/201106/the-myth-the-one-right-way-part-3-men-women-you .