10 Relationship Cliches That Are Ruining Your Expectations (And Two That’ll Keep You Strong)

Typically I’m a big fan of clichés. They’re easy, they’re familiar, they’re usually somewhat true and serve as a nice bow on a greater thought. I’m lazy and at times a simple woman, what of it?

But these little sayings can also be fucking dangerous, especially when applied to the extremely varied and complex world of romantic relationships. It’s not that I have no concept of universal truths, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen relationships go on way to long (or get unnecessarily destroyed) because one of the parties involved holds on to needlepoint-worthy clichés like evidence that would hold up in a court of law.

Look, it makes total sense why we’re so prone to slapping these dumb sweeping statements anywhere they might fit. We’re all a bunch of insecure narcissists when it comes to love and relationships—no one knows what they’re doing and almost everyone is guilty of desperately trying to make sense of the nonsensical at one time or another. But might I suggest taking a step back from whatever scenario you find yourself in and assessing it for what it is instead of labeling it with whatever Lifetime Original Movie title-ready cliché you can think of, especially the ones listed here:

“Opposites attract”

This is not the reason why you, a decent person, is still together with your ferociously assholic boyfriend. The fact that you would stop to help a person in need and he would step over their body while burning money does not make you opposites. It makes him a complete monster that you should no longer be with. Maybe it’s not even that severe—maybe the two of you live completely different lifestyles that will clash into eternity but your sexual chemistry is off the chain. Point is: Of course you and whomever you’re with are opposite in many ways (maybe he’s an extrovert and you’re an introvert) but that’s true of you and pretty much anyone, right? I mean, that’s why we all have different names and aren’t just clones from some weird science experiment. But if you’re SO DIFFERENT that it’s a defining quality of your relationship, something is probably off. Hopefully the two of you.

“Once a cheater, always a cheater”

This is just a boring way of saying that A) You’re completely insecure and attempting to hold something from your significant other’s past over their head or B) You’re dating Jax from Vanderpump Rules. Chronic cheaters are not to be lumped in with one-time offenders, it’s just not fair to those who made a mistake in a certain situation—we’re all guilty of doing at least one regrettable thing in our lives, and as long as your regrettable thing wasn’t say… destroying a family or like, murder, second chances should be given out freely. Making someone feel like they’ve lost your trust before they ever had it is a lousy way to carry on/great way to let them know they’re not wanted.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry”

Actually, love means that you’re humble and honest enough with yourself to own up to your mistakes like a fucking adult. Love means saying “fuck it” and spitting out the hard thing that you’ve been holding on to, demanding a dialogue for the greater good and expressing remorse when appropriate. Love means never having to say a lot of things, (“excuse me”, “can I drink one of your beers?” and “No, I won’t get dessert”) but “sorry” doesn’t even crack the top two hundo, honey.

“There are plenty of fish in the sea”

When things get tough, it’s awfully tempting to toss your typically awesome partner back into the dating pool and go find someone else who will put up with your bullshit more effectively, but let’s be real: There are fish in the sea. Plenty? As in “do whatever the fuck you want, that well of dick/pussy is neverending so there’s really no point in trying to hard?” No, baby. There are not PLENTY. There’s some, less and less with each person you fuck/date/flirt with when you’re drunk on Instant Messenger, making it a little bit awkward forever. Be discerning, of course, but remember that fish are fish and they all stink a little.

“There’s a pot for every lid”

I hate to be the one to say it, but—no I don’t. Not all of us are going to meet someone that we can call a long-term romantic partner. The reason why we hear these stories of little old men and women that die holding hands in bed together is ‘cuz they’re RARE. And the reason why I don’t hate telling you this is due to the fact that I think no matter what happens, you’re going to be just fine if you want to be. Plan your life for you, not for this mysterious pot that may or may never show up to cradle your lid. Company is great and all, but if you’re unhappy with anything about your life, finding a soul mate-type isn’t going to fix it. In fact, it just means more compromise. Life your life like you’re a cool, independent lid that doesn’t even need a pot because being a lid is chic, chic, chic. Or something.

“Love conquers all”

If this was true, everything would be different. People in relationships would be immune to family drama, financial issues and workplace politics. Kids would never be shuttled to and from their parents’ houses and no one would ever stay at the office late. I’m sure in some version of the universe somewhere, there is a sector of the population that has transcended the ability to allow everyday life to intervene in their love life, but not on this earth. How many of our parents would still be together if cash, power and attitude wasn’t more powerful than even the best love?

“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”

I can knit, send a text message and feed the dog simultaneously while my boyfriend has a hard time answering a question while trying to compose an email. Yeah, men and women have different strengths that are linked to our biology and traditional gender roles. That’s the science part of this conversation—cool. And while I get that the concept behind this expression is not that men and women are literally from different planets, the suggestion that there’s not something much greater than our penises and vaginas that unite and divide us as humans is… banana cakes. If your dude can’t stop staring at women while you grab a quick lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s, that’s not because he’s from Mars, it’s because he’s a dick. If your girlfriend expects you to get on your knees in every argument because she’s ragging out, that’s not because of Venus, it’s because she’s a complete cunt.

“If you can’t love me at my worst, you can’t love me at my best”

It’s not that this cliché doesn’t hold a lot of truth—out of all of those I’ve listed thus far, this one probably has the most validity to it, but some people’s “worst” is really, really bad. It’s less the expression itself I take issue with and more the fact that every batshit woman with an Instagram that I know has posted this saying on her feed with a caption like, “Ain’t that the truth!” and a winky face. In order for this to apply to you, your best better be pretty fucking best and your worst better be digestively and somewhat understandably bad.

“You’re going to make someone really happy some day”

This line gets thrown around in one-sided break ups all the time. The “normal” one usually says it to the hysterical one who’s ripping up pictures and saying things like, “Why am I not enough? What could I have done better?” These people can make someone really happy someday, especially if they really do some hard work on themselves, but let’s face it: If you’re breaking up with them, you probably don’t really believe that, so why bother saying it?

“Never settle for anything less than a fairytale”

Way to set yourself up to fail, ladies! This expression used to drive me fucking nuts when I was single and now that I’m in the best relationship I’ve ever been in, I take even more exception to it. Why? Because most people wouldn’t know the beginning of a fairytale if it licked their asshole and called them daddy. Because most really great things almost never start out looking like great things. I mean, even in fairytales. Cinderella was basically an orphan/servant who had to wait for some straight-up literal magic to go down before she was even PRESENTED with the opportunity to use a pumpkin as a car. A fairytale is the dream, yeah, but only if you’re a really fucking good storyteller and know that you usually have to stick it out a third of the book to get to the great stuff.

…All of those trite pieces of language aside, there are two clichés that are usually reserved for relationships that couldn’t be more true:

“Timing is everything”

I was never a huge believer in this until I met my current boyfriend. When we first started talking we realized that we had close to 200 mutual friends on Facebook. We’d been to each other’s birthday parties as plus ones but never met. We’d been in the same room countless times but somehow God or the Universe or whatever you want to call it had kept the two of us apart until exactly the right moment. And even then, neither of us were looking for a relationship or even really dating but we had just enough room in our hearts to explore the possibility of meeting a great love. Of course this was YEARS after I’d anticipated I would meet someone to spend my life with, when I was least expecting it (another time-tested cliché that I stand by.)

“Never go to bed angry”

I’m not saying that you should stay up until dawn figuring out why you said this and he said that, but before your lay your head down and stay silent for eight hours, it’s important that fighting lovers address the surface issues that are upsetting them in the pre-bed moment. In the morning you can talk about the big picture issues and long term plans, but storming off to hit the hay in the middle of a tiff about who drank the last of the wine is an awesome way of saying, “Fuck you, I give up, this isn’t even worth ten more minutes of my time to come to some sort of rational conclusion about what went down here tonight.” That’s loser behavior and you don’t see too many people all like, “Oh! I want to be with an emotionally challenged failure! Me, me! Pick me!” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Molly McAleer lives in Los Angeles with her chihuahua and can be found on Twitter (@molls) and on Instagram (@itsmolls). Her writing has appeared on your television, your Internet and the bathroom walls of your favorite cyber cafes.

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