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5 Relationship Myths To Avoid

5 Relationship Myths To Avoid

Any long-term relationship that’s successful is really a myth that two people create together.” – Dan Savage

Writing this article was a wake up call for me in regards to looking at my relationship with my husband of 22 years. It is a wonder that we have survived. I had expectations about what I thought our relationship should be, and when things didn’t turn out how I expected them to I would feel frustrated and angry, especially in the early years of our marriage.

Now I know why there was so much frustration and anger. My expectations were based on beliefs from relationship myths that existed for the sole purpose of being myths. If I had known then what I now know about the fallacy of relationship myths, I would have saved myself a lot of grief!

I have chosen these five relationship myths because I believe you should avoid these at all costs. If you go into a relationship believing in these five relationship myths, your relationship is pretty much doomed.

Myth 1: Happy Couples Stay Together Forever

This myth is a dangerous one, as it creates the belief that happiness will last forever. The reality is that happiness at the beginning of the relationship is very different to the happiness couples experience at, say, 50 years of marriage.

Believing in this myth means that you are not going to be prepared for the minefield of dangers that couples have to manoeuvre their way through in order to stay together. Some happy couples don’t even make it through and sadly, their relationships end.

At the start of your relationship you are in an ecstatic state where you want to be with your partner 24/7. You love being around them, you love what they say and you love the feeling of being in love. Why wouldn’t you want that to last forever?

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You need to get real and understand that the state of love and happiness changes and it will never be the same as it was when you first were together. To maintain love and happiness in your relationship, you both have to work hard to sustain your happiness and your love for each other.

Get to know the minefield of dangers that you have to work through as a couple and be prepared to go to battle together to overcome these dangers.

Myth 2: He Is My Soul Mate, My World, My One And Only Love

I have always struggled with this myth, as I have never really believed it. I chose this myth because it has now become one that has an unbelievable following. The reason this myth has become so ingrained into people’s belief systems is because society leads us to believe that love, happiness and living a fulfilled life comes only from experiencing the passionate love of another.

This person – your soul mate – is the only person you will truly and deeply love and your whole being is based around their love for you. Without them, you are no one. I don’t mean to be harsh here, but if you truly believe that then you are in trouble.

In today’s society, we are constantly in the “pursuit of happiness and love” and have been brainwashed to believe that the source of love and happiness is found from external sources like, for example, our “soul mate”. We are nothing without this love. Well, I don’t believe this to be so.

Happiness and love comes from within us and the love of another person is really the icing on the cake. If we are disconnected from our own happiness and source of love within us, then no matter how fantastic our partner is, we will always feel dissatisfied with who we are.

Accept who you are, know that your happiness and fulfilment comes from within you and do what ever it takes to be the happy and loving person you desire to be. Once you have achieved this, then you will find that there is no limit to how wonderful and loving all your relationships can be.

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Myth 3: Romance and Passion Will Last Forever

Being passionately in love with someone is not enough to make a relationship last. The reality is that this glow of romance and passion fades overtime, and it can either disappear or. if you get it right, grow into a deeper more mature love.

The problem for us is, we make big decisions about committing to the relationship when we are in the throes of passion, lust and love. This person we are choosing to commit to at this point of the relationship can do no wrong and anything they do that does annoy us we accept because we love them so much.

When romance and passion disappear, we can end up believing that we are no longer in love and we are with the wrong person. The relationship sours and eventually disintegrates. When this happens, for many couples what was once a loving passionate relationship becomes a very painful and “unloving” one.

If love survives the passionate and romantic stage, it is still not enough to keep the relationship going. It is at this point, where a couple who want to be together, they should take the time to sort out what they need to do to “invest” in their relationship to keep it strong, loving and sustainable.

Staying together forever in a loving relationship takes hard work, commitment and a lot of compromise. The arguments, the conflict and the disagreements continue. However a couple who are realistic and love each other are not afraid of these challenges.

Happy couples know how to work through their challenges together. They have strategies that ensure their relationship survives. The romance and passion is still there but it is simply older and much wiser.

Myth 4: Having Children Will Bring Even More Happiness To Our Relationship

This myth is absolutely a load of rubbish. I have two young adult children and I love them dearly, however being a parent has been one of the most challenging things I have done in my life.

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I had no idea how tough it was to be a parent and to co-parent with my husband, who has a very different parenting approach than I do. When you put two different parenting approaches together, it takes hard work, huge compromise (yet again!) and a great deal of effort to keep the relationship strong and loving.

Having children also brings a different dynamic to your relationship and if you both are not vigilant, this can destroy your relationship and the love you have for each other. I don’t mean to be harsh, but don’t let this myth lead you to believe that just by having children, your relationship will miraculously be even more happy and loving.

Having children is really the “test” of the sustainability and strength of a relationship. Parenting challenges your beliefs, values, ability to compromise, ability to love, your ego, your fears, your anxieties and your differences.

If the both of you don’t keep on top of these huge challenges, then the chances of you having the happy loving relationship you desire are very slim. Although children bring us great joy and happiness they also create a distraction away from “investing” in keeping your relationship with each other intact.

Your children will always be to you both your number one priority, however you will find that if you let it, your relationship with your partner will slip away until it becomes forgotten. You will wake up one day and discover that you no longer love this person and then the painful journey of separation begins.

Myth 5: Love Will Conquer All

The phrase comes from the Latin phrase from Eclogue X by Virgil, although the myth originates from Greek Mythology. Love was a favourite topic for the Greeks and they wrote many love stories, and many of them were actually very tragic. In fact, I am sure if you went deep enough into Greek mythology, you would find a love story that relates to each of these five myths.

‘Love Conquers All’ is a common theme in many of the Greek love stories. Read the story of Alcyone and Ceyx and you will see what I mean – even though Alcyone and Ceyx were a loving and devoted couple, their story doesn’t end well.

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This myth about love being the end all be all has been kept alive in both song and in films. The band Deep Purple released in 1992 a song titled “Love Conquers All”. In 2006, a movie was released by Tan Chui Mui with the title “Love Conquers All”. So with love stories, songs and movies all promoting the belief that “Love Conquers All”, it is then no surprise that we believe this myth to be true.

The reality is, love alone doesn’t conquer all the challenges and obstacles a relationship faces. Love alone will not help you to overcome your partner’s imperfections, their annoying habits, their selfish ways or the unreasonable demands of their family.

Constant dialogue and conversation, respect for each other, the ability to say sorry, being personally accountable and responsible for your actions, being able to speak your truth without fear of reprisal or shame, celebration, appreciation, fun, lots of date nights and the ability to resolve disputes and conflicts quickly and in agreement are just some of the factors that, along with love, are the key ingredients to having a happy relationship.

Life is complicated and full of uncertainties. Likewise, relationships can be messy and are never perfect. If you believe these five relationship myths to be true, when reality sets in and the pressures of life present themselves to you and your partner, the chances of survival together are poor.

Paired with love, putting these key ingredients into action will ensure without a doubt that your relationships will be strong, loving and will likely last forever.

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” – John Lennon

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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