Our relationships with others are an essential part of our lives. Through our relationships, we can learn to grow and recognize the reflections of ourselves in others, especially within our closest connections -- romantic relationships.
But there are also some common beliefs about romantic relationships that can hang us up--old thoughts or assumptions that can prevent us from experiencing full, healthy, and balanced partnerships with others.
Here are five of the most pervasive myths about romantic relationships.
1. There is Only One Person for You
If this were true, then you would still be dating your second-grade crush. This myth causes so many relationships to turn bitter and sour and, in the worst-case scenario, keeps people together when they are miserable.
The truth is that we don't get one person in our life; we get several people. We are continually choosing those who remain in our lives when those relationships are the most loving, fulfilling, and purposeful. Life is in constant motion and so are we. In our best relationships we can change both individually and together.
If your current romantic relationship is starting to crack, look at where you need to be more flexible and understanding. Communication is always key. Listen to one another, ask for what you need, be respectful, and always keep both of your best interests in mind. Relationships are, indeed, a two-way street.
2. "I've had a tough life and a relationship will help heal my wounds."
While it is true that relationships will expose everything in our lives that is emotionally broken or unhealed, we cannot use our partner to heal us -- that is something we need to do for ourselves.
If we are relying on our relationship to fix us, we avoid taking responsibility for ourselves -- and relying on something or someone else for our happiness does not work. Happiness always begins within.
3. Being in a Relationship is Better Than Being Alone
Not if it's an unhealthy relationship. Remember: Relationships are opportunities for us to connect with like minds and spirits in order to understand ourselves and explore our potential to create a larger life experience that we couldn't create alone.
If we are using a relationship to mask our loneliness -- which is an emotion based in fear, not love -- our relationships may allow us to temporarily forget that loneliness, but the loneliness will always resurface.
Being alone can build a tremendous strength -- to be comfortable with solitude and introspection. Being alone can also teach us to prioritize and focus our energies. We can learn how to be comfortable with our own company while also enjoying the company of others.
4. In Relationships, Opposites Attract
Personalities with opposing attributes may attract at first -- simply due to the variety and contrast they bring -- but opposites rarely sustain. Having a range of different qualities and interests can certainly be appealing, especially when first meeting someone. But in the end, we will need to find more common ground on which to walk together.
Use your differences to teach one another about aspects of yourself that you have yet to explore, and use your relationship to mutually help each other grow. Focus on your differences as strengths, and whether you agree or not, always be respectful.
5. "I've tried being in a relationship, but I always seem to mess things up."
We will get what we intend. When looking at past relationships, we can examine why we went into the relationship in the first place. Was it to fill a void? Take the place of something we didn't have? Find someone to take care of?
Entering into a relationship out of lack will just bring more of that lack. If we're already in a relationship and need to find better balance, we can take time to find peace with our past, our decisions, and ourselves.
If we believe that we will mess up a relationship, our beliefs will fuel our attitudes, actions, and words and can direct us into sabotage mode. We can set our course for success by believing that we deserve and will have positive, loving relationships.
Read more about creating and maintaining healthy and balanced relationships in 21 Steps to Better Relationships, or another book in the balance collection at michaelsunnarborg.com/books