1. Our past relationships
By now, you’ve realized that your lying, cheating ex was a complete asshole. That you deserve better than him. That you won’t settle for anyone else who treats you as poorly as he treated you. But your past relationships can still impact your future relationships negatively.
What if you find another guy, who flirts with your friends and gives backhanded compliments, but he’s amazing compared to your ex? You might stay with him for longer than he deserves, because you know it could be way worse. Because your twisted view of loves makes you think you’re actually lucky to have someone as good as him. Your exes still mess with your mind, even after they’re long gone.
2. The sitcoms we see on TV
Sitcoms are completely different than movies. Pretty much all of them contain a goofy, lazy husband and a hardworking, beautiful wife. Is that really what you want your future to look like? Hell no. But that’s what we expect. That’s what we find normal. That’s what we think marriage is.
At the end of the day, Ross loves Rachel, so it doesn’t matter that they were on a break. At the end of the day, Frank loves Marie, so it doesn’t matter that she cooks for him while he sits around on his ass and makes rude comments about her looks. Situation comedies are just that–comedies. They shouldn’t be taken seriously, but when we see them on our televisions every single day, it’s hard not to view the marriages we see as the norm.
3. The tabloid stories on magazine racks
Whenever a new celebrity couple gets together, ridiculous rumors about them getting married and having children will pop up on the covers of magazines. But once they actually do get married, it seems like the only rumor you’ll hear is that one person is cheating on the other. And the worst part? Even though we know that tabloid stories are complete bullshit nine out of ten times, we usually believe that the cheating stories are true. After all, what celeb can keep it in their pants? What man can keep it in their pants?
Cheating is spoken about so frequently that most of us actually expect it to happen. Have you ever been to a wedding where you’ve secretly assumed the couple would be divorced in a matter of months? Or have you ever had a friend that cried to you about getting cheated on, and you secretly thought that she should have expected it? We’ve come to expect boyfriends and girlfriends to cheat on each other, and that way of thinking isn’t healthy for anyone.
4. Our parents and grandparents
You’re not destined to end up repeating all of your mommy and daddy’s mistakes. But the way they dealt with their marital problems have been unconsciously engrained in your brain. If they never kissed in front of you, then you might feel weird engaging in public displays of affection of your own. If they fought dirty, and called each other every name in the book during their arguments, then you might say something hurtful to your partner that sounds tame to you, but is absolutely uncalled for to them.
Even though you’re old enough to realize your parents’ relationship was far from perfect, and that you shouldn’t model your own relationships after them, it was the relationship you were exposed to for the longest period of time. You watched them walk around your childhood home for two decades, and it was the first time you ever witnessed “love.” So if their version of love was yelling and crying and fighting, then being treated with love and affection (like you should be) might feel peculiar at first.
5. The way we feel during sex
Sex and love don’t go hand-in-hand. Everyone knows that, but for whatever reason, intercourse still causes plenty of couples to become confused. You might think you’re in love with someone, just because they go down on you frequently and give you intense orgasms. Or because they look at you like you’re the most beautiful woman in the world after you get undressed and make you feel confident for a change.
But just because he loves sleeping with you doesn’t he loves you as a whole. You can’t assume that a guy has strong feelings for you, just because he keeps inviting you back to his bedroom. That sexual tension will fade away eventually. If he loves you, he’ll show it for more than twenty minutes per night.
6. Our favorite movies
Everyone tells you that life isn’t like the movies. That you’re not going to find a perfect man who sweeps you off your feet and fights to the death to keep you. But there’s only one thing more dangerous than believing in that fairy tale mentality, and that’s believing that fairy tales are completely unrealistic.
You don’t want to lower your standards too much. Even though you probably won’t meet a man who flies you to France on a whim, you should still hold out for someone who showers you with attention and affection. Someone who treats you right. Someone who makes you feel like you’re starring in a story way better than anything Nicholas Sparks could ever write.