Share the love.
Whether you’re in a partnership, dating, or happily single, you can’t deny that relationships are a massive part of our lives – and not just romantic ones. Research shows that deep, connected relationships are the key to putting a smile on your face and are hugely beneficial to your physical health too. It’s not about having a heap of people in your life – it’s about focussing your energy on the ones that matter.
And yes, relationships are also hard at times. It’s easy to fumble your way through them, especially romantic ones. But chill – it’s OK. You’re not supposed to have it all figured out. Relationship conflict is a key platform to learn about yourself.
We thought we’d help you out by putting together some key research in the field, along with a few valuable tips to help you let in the love.
The 10 Myths of Romantic Relationships
Heads up – some of these also apply to family and friendships
The ‘right’ relationship will be ‘easy’.
Um, no. The right relationship will also take work, patience, care, thoughtfulness and consideration. It’s by working through the inevitable challenges that partners have the potential to grow together more deeply.
You should be having sex X amount of times.
Every couple is different and there’s no point thinking that there’s a golden number that you should be aiming for. Sex ebbs and flows in relationships so go with it and if needs aren’t being met, communicate with your partner about how you feel about your bedroom antics.
Arguments and conflict means that the relationship is doomed.
Conflict is bound to happen. At times, you’ll have different views, opinions and heated discussions that can get messy quickly. It’s not about if you argue, it’s about how you argue. Fighting right is a skill and involves listening, reflecting and empathising. An argument-free relationship can sometimes indicate that someone is not communicating their needs.
A good partner should be intuitive to you all the time.
A partner, no matter how awesome they are, is not a mind-reader! Sure, having some level of unspoken communication and synergy is great, but communication is still key. Getting upset at your partner because you thought they ‘should have known’ isn’t really fair. Just talk.
You should always feel a spark and chemistry between you and your partner.
Relationships change over time. Romance doesn’t have to be all fireworks and rollercoasters, it can be as cuddly and comfortable as your fave PJs. Let your relationship mature like a great wine, and know that feeling safe is important.
All you need is love to make a relationship work.
We really wished it was that simple, but it isn’t. Relationships often work with a shared vision, effort, thoughtfulness, humour and shared values. Relationships actually need work to work (but they shouldn’t be a downright slog).
Relationships should be 50/50.
Relationships will fail if they feel like a bank transaction, or if you are constantly trying to ‘even things out’ or ‘keep tabs’. Sometimes it’s really beneficial to experience a shift in who plays the supporting role (or is the ‘rock’) of the relationship, and become the receiver. Be open to change.
You should feel happy all the time in the right relationship.
It’s definitely not OK to feel that you’re in the dumps all the time, but relationships are an opportunity to see all the parts of yourself – even the not-so-fun parts. Allowing yourself to feel the myriad of feelings within a relationship can take you on a real journey of self-development and insight.
Talking about past emotional wounds will only make them worse.
You might not want to bang on about your past, but relationships are a sure-fire way to bring up some of your baggage – indicating that there may be a need to chat about how you’re being triggered. That’s ok – and not a sign that you’re crazy. Opening up to your partner, a therapist or good friend can help you get perspective on your past and manage the way it affects your relationship.
All relationship conflicts can be resolved.
Actually, lots of relationship conflict is recurring (approx. 69%!), so what’s actually necessary is to grow in acceptance of one another’s personality differences and yup – you guessed it – communication is pretty damn important to avoid locking horns and building resentment. Conflict needs to be managed – it can’t always be resolved and that is OK.
Grab our “Keep Communication Open” Worksheet
Realise that you need some help in the communication department? You’re not alone! We’ve put together a few of our trusty communication strategies to help you to waltz into those convos armed with steps and strategies to help you express yourself. Snatch yours up for free now!
Be the person that you want to be in a relationship.
“When we feel stuck in relationships, it’s often because we’ve put our walls up and stopped being the partner we want to be. Our minds can get over-crowded, filled with judgements about the other person, how they should be, why they should be behaving differently.
The problem is if we wait for the other person to change it could take years. The power lies in recognising how we want to be in that relationship and starting there.
For example if being loving and caring are important to you, what are the smallest steps you can take towards that in the next day? Often, but not always, when we start being the person we want to be, the other person comes to the table. If they do, then great, and if they don’t then at least we have lived consistently with our values. We can then make decisions based on that knowledge.”
Marriage isn’t just a piece of paper.
The psychological and physical benefits of actually being married are enormous. After 50 years of social epidemiology, it has been established that in developed countries the greatest source of health, wealth, and longevity, is a satisfying and healthy marriage.
Be (super) interested in your partner’s good news.
“The surprising finding is that the closest, most intimate and most trusting relationships appear to be distinguished not by how the partners respond to each other’s disappointments and losses but how they react to good news.” – Prof. Sonja Lyubomirsk (Berkley)
A successful relationship comes down to the will and want to stay in a relationship (and not compatibility).
Dr. Ted Hudson of the University of Texas ran a longitudinal study of couples that had been married for years and in his research he discovered something surprising. Dr. Hudson explains, “My research shows that there is no difference in the objective compatibility between those couples who are unhappy and those who are happy.”
Same-sex couples fight right (but have the same issues at straight couples).
Dr. Gottman and his colleagues conducted a twelve-year study of same-sex couples to learn what makes same-sex relationships succeed or fail. The research demonstrates that all couple types—straight or gay—have many of the same problems and the same paths to staying happy together. But research has shown that there are also some qualities of strength (like humour and ability to calm down during a fight) that are especially key to same-sex couples.
Do these things and your relationships will improve.
It’s a no-brainer. Stop picking at your mate and think about how they make your life better. Do it now – it’ll feel good!
Write A Thank You Note
Up the anti and write them a thank you letter. Really go deep and delve into the things that they’ve done to make your world go ‘round. Extra points if you read it to them.
Do something nice. But don’t do the same thing all the time and be predictable. Choose different things to surprise your partner, and get creative.
Find Out More About Them
Building ‘Love Maps’ is a principal developed by infamous relationship therapist / researcher Dr John Gottman, and is based on a simple premise: knowing stuff about your partner builds closeness, intimacy and a strong foundation for love.
Staff Pick: Podcast
WHERE SHOULD WE BEGIN? – ESTHER PEREL
Become a fly on the wall in a couples therapy session and gain a deeper understanding of how to make your romantic relationship work. Listen to psychotherapist Esther Perel’s – Where Should We Begin? Podcast, recommended by many Indigo therapists and staff.