I’d say just about every person on the planet is seeking, or trying to maintain, lasting love. The problem is most of us have longstanding, firmly ingrained, highly unrealistic ideas of what love is supposed to be, and feel frustrated when reality falls short.
No one would deny that love is a beautiful, transformative experience, but at the same time, it’s important to have a realistic understanding of what it actually is. Here are the top five biggest misconceptions about love:
1. It’s supposed to be difficult
The predominant depiction of love in movies and on TV is that it’s supposed to be a challenge, something you fight for at all costs and don’t ever give up on. While this certainly makes for good entertainment, it’s not a realistic portrayal of love.
Relationships do take work, but falling in love (in a healthy way) is a relatively effortless process. It’s not filled with hours of analyzing what he meant when he said XYZ…or feeling a sense of impending doom at all times…or making these grand sacrifices and compromising who you are for the sake of the one you love. Who can forget the final scene in “Grease” when Sandy ditches the poodle skirt and sweater set for second-skin black leggings, an edgy bomber jacket, and a cigarette between her lips while Danny literally falls at her feet, overcome by pure lust and a need to have her right there in the carnival fun-house.
This is not what love looks like! When someone truly loves you, you will not have to mold yourself in order to fit with them, the pieces will naturally click.
The drama so often associated with love usually only applies to unhealthy relationships, ones that result from infatuation, obsession, or unrealistic expectations, rather than a genuine connection. A healthy, loving relationship is one where two people can be their authentic selves and look at what they can give to the relationship, rather than what they can get from it. Both people complement each other and are able to give what the other needs, and happily receive what their partner has to give. You should never have to fight for someone’s love, or plot ways to make someone love you. When it’s real and genuine, it will flow easily and effortlessly.
2. Love conquers all
From music to movies to literature, everywhere you turn in mainstream media you hear love is all you need, love conquers all, love lifts us up where we belong, and I could go on and on. Love is for sure a beautiful thing. Love is also necessary in order for a relationship to last, but it’s not enough. Sometimes two people just don’t fit, it’s unfortunate, but it’s just a fact.
The reason most people are so jaded is they stay in relationships that aren’t working for way too long. They try to be what the other person needs, they try to make it work by any means necessary, they try with all their might and wind up broken and defeated. You simply cannot shove a square peg into a round hole. It doesn’t matter how many ways you try, you will never be able to make it fit.
There’s this idea that if you love someone enough, you’re it will just work out. But sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean your love wasn’t real, it just means that there were other factors at play and as a result, it just couldn’t work long-term.
While love is very powerful and capable of conquering some things, it isn’t always strong enough to conquer others, like different backgrounds, values, goals, visions for the future for example. Most of all, love simply cannot conquer incompatibility.
3. Only true love lasts
Picking up from where I left off in number two, an important truth to realize is not all love if meant to last, sometimes it’s just part of the journey. Loving someone does not mean they are the right person for you. It doesn’t guarantee you a happily ever after. More often than love leading to marriage, love leads to heartbreak…and the heartbreak can lead to growth..and this growth can lead to another love, one that can lead to a lasting marriage.
I have loved several wrong people in my life. While some of those experiences left me with a lot of shattered pieces to put back together, time has shown that none of those guys were right for me. It doesn’t mean the love we shared was flawed or not enough, it just means that we weren’t right for each other.
The sad fact is most relationships end with bitterness and hate. One or both people leave the relationship thinking they were owed something, and they blame the other for not following through on this unwritten promise. If we could all just realize that love does not guarantee a happy ending, we would be able to move forward much more easily, and would be able to start a new relationship with an open heart, rather than one shrouded by pain and disappointment.
4. You “just know” when it’s right
One of the biggest misconceptions about love is that you “just know” when you find the “right one.” The mentality frees you of all responsibility in your love life… you don’t need to work on yourself or prepare for love, just go about your business and someday the right one will drop into your life and you’ll just know.
In order to fall in love with the right person, you need to be in the right place emotionally. If you don’t find love from within, you will never be able to let it in from the outside. No one likes to talk about this part though because this takes work, and the idea of some perfect person just entering your life and being the other half of your circle, the yin to your yang, is just so much easier, and far more romantic.
In order to correctly identify the right one for you, you need to know who you are. You need to know your values, your boundaries, your fundamental needs, your wants, what you can compromise on, and what your absolute deal breakers are. When you are in this place and the right person comes along, the one who understands you and sees you and connects with you and can give you what you need in a relationship, it will feel right and you will just know.
It’s also worth noting that love is something that can grow over time, it’s not always instant fireworks that erupt as soon as your eyes meet. A lot of the time women reject perfectly good guys after a few dates because they “just didn’t feel it.” I’m not saying you should settle, but I am saying you should adjust your idea of what love should feel like.
A lot of the time we reject the guys who would be good to us (and for us) because we are not yet in a place where we can receive true love. Instead we feel drawn to the guys who are unavailable and get caught up in trying to prove our worth and show him we’re good enough. This toxic dating style happens when you don’t feel worthy of love on some level…and going after these kinds of guys validates that notion.
A big part of preparing yourself for love is letting go of resentments from the past–be it ex boyfriends, your parents, your friends–make an effort to let go of any lingering resentment you feel because the truth is, holding onto this negativity is hurting you more than anyone else.
When you hold onto faulty beliefs such as, “All men are commitment-phobes” or, “The guys I like always dump me” you sow the seeds for a self-fulfilling prophecy.
5. Love is all you need
When we think of what it takes to have a lasting, happy relationship, people of course say love is the most essential ingredient, next usually comes good communication, shared goals, and the like. But no one ever talks about the importance of lust.
Love and lust are often painted as opposites, with the former being pure, transcendent, and full of light while the later is depraved and full of darkness. They say love is giving, lust is taking; love is selfless, lust is selfish. While in its pure, isolated state lust can be a negative thing, so can love (at least, in romantic relationships). When your relationship is pure love, you have a level of comfort and familiarity. Married people and couples who live together know what this is like.
You love your partner very much, and can be completely comfortable around them…but sometimes things become a little too comfortable and the passion you once felt is nowhere to be found. This isn’t the result of lack of love, it’s lack of lust.
In a romantic relationship, love will give you stability, partnership, acceptance, but lust will give you passion, fire, and sexual satisfaction.