The Myths About Love That Will Ruin Your Relationships

Snow White and Prince Charming

A significant portion of my work is dedicated to debunking our beloved and dysfunctional cultural myths about love, romance, and marriage. For many people, these messages live like a sleeping serpent in the unconscious layer and are only awakened when real love is standing before them. In other words, as long as they’re chasing after the unavailable partner where there’s no risk of real love and, thus, no risk of vulnerability and loss, they can trot along somewhat happily, fully subscribing to the dominant cultural myths. But once they’re faced with the possibility of a lifelong commitment to a present, loving, available partner — which often occurs at the time of getting engaged but can also appear much sooner — the serpent awakens and the messages come spewing forth in a slew of froth, wreaking havoc on their unsuspecting minds as the messages clash with their lived experience and the serpent attempts to convince them that it’s time to walk away.

What are these cultural messages about love? What does the serpent say when it awakens from its lifetime slumber? It says:

• Love is a feeling. If you’re not feeling love, then you don’t really love your partner.

• If you have to question whether or not you love your partner, you obviously don’t love him/her and it’s time to walk away.

• You should “just know that it’s right.” If you don’t have that feeling of rightness, then it’s clearly not right.

• You should feel head over heels “in love”, which means butterflies and fireworks.

• Your partner should make you feel alive, whole, and fulfilled.

I could go on and on; the love-myths are endless, and you only have to watch a Meg Ryan romantic comedy — or any Hollywood romantic comedy, for that matter — to see the enactment of these messages. Once you understand real love, these films are harmless fun. But when you grow up watching Disney stories and following glorified Hollywood romances, these films create a dangerous expectation that love should look and feel like it does on the big screen. And when the initial rush of feeling and certainty naturally wears off, as it always will, it’s frightfully easy to doubt that your relationship is still a good one.

If love isn’t only a feeling, what is it? Once the honeymoon wears off, love is primarily a verb, and to love someone is an active experience. Love is action. Love is commitment. Love is making your partner a sandwich even when you don’t “feel” like it. Love is recognizing that intimate, committed relationships are crucibles inside which both partners will be asked to grow emotionally and spiritually..

Read more: Sheryl Paul, Huffington Post

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