Romantic relationships fascinate me. Most people deem their romantic life as very important to them. At the same time tough, it’s an area that even generally smart and educated people often navigate using irrational, impractical and simplistic ideas. And when that happens, a lot of frustration and disappointment ensue.
I’ve certainly made my fair share of relationship mistakes, and I like to think I’ve learned from them. I also like to think that, in time, I developed a much more realistic, scientific and healthy view of love and relationships.
Looking out how many folks think about romantic relationships (from friends to acquaintances to relatives to coaching clients), I’ve identified 4 major love myths that loads of people operate on. These myths cause them a lot of pain and struggle, and they really got to die. So this is my attempt to debunk them and hopefully send them to their grave.
Myth #1: You Have a Soulmate
This idea states that there is one person in this world (no more, no less) who is a perfect match for you. And when you find each other, you’ll fall madly in love with each other and have the perfect, everlasting relationship.
Sounds like a fairytale when you read the whole proposition? It is. Psychologists, sociologists and biologists have been studying the underpinnings of love for decades, and there is nothing in their discoveries to support the concept of a soulmate.
The truth is to be found in basic statistics: you live in a world with millions of other potential mates. Given the complexity of human beings, some of them will likely be highly incompatible with you, many of them will be somewhat compatible, and several of them will likely be highly compatible with you. It’s a stretch to call these later people soulmates, but they are people you would have an amazing romantic relationship with. And there’s more than one of them.
These are the odds you’ve been dealt in the real world. And these are the odds you wanna consider when you think about finding love.
Believing they have a soulmate just makes people abandon great relationship because they don’t feel “perfect”, as well as become emotionally dependent on their current partner if they think he/she is their soulmate. And if for some reason their “soulmate” breaks up with them, a whole Greek tragedy follows. Having a soulmate is a crude, outdated concept, and it’s high time we drop it.
Myth #2: True Love Lasts Forever
Whenever I hear this statement from somebody, I ask them what they mean by “true love”. The most common answer is that true love means “love that lasts forever”. So they’re essentially saying that “love that lasts forever lasts forever”. Which is saying nothing; it’s a circular statement.
I take a deep breath and I keep going. Eventually I discover that what the other person is trying to convey is the idea that if a love is strong (which is what they call “true love”), than it will never end. They’re basically asserting that the longevity of love can be predicted by its intensity.
Okay, now I understand. But their assertion is not true. In fact one of the key aspects of the psychology of emotions is that the duration of an emotion frequently doesn’t correlate with its strength. A person can get very angry, and 5 minutes later be completely calm. Similarly, someone can fall in love head over heels, and in a few months that love is gone.
I find it interesting that, nowadays, people marry out of love more than ever, yet the divorce rate is higher than ever as well. I’m sure there are many explanations, but one of them is probably the fact that love can be a very volatile feeling. To assume that it will last forever because it’s strong, or even because it’s been strong for a few years, is farfetched.
Believing this myth is bad because it makes people commit to lifetime relationships purely based on love. And that’s a mistake. Because later, if much of that love dissipates, they may find out they have nothing else in common: no commons goals, values, passions or beliefs. There is nothing left to hold them together. That’s how messy breakups or really stale relationships come to be.
Myth #3: Love Will Just Find You One Day
We see this myth exemplified in movies all the time. She walks into a coffee shop, just looking to get her morning coffee, when him, tall, dark and handsome, accidentally bumps into her and spills his vanilla latte all over her.
He starts desperately apologizing and hopelessly trying to clean the latte off her dress, while casually noticing she has really nice eyes. Next thing you know all this has transitioned into in a fun, flirtatious conversation, which then turns into a date, which turns into an epic loving relationship.
It’s a great movie plot. But it rarely happens in real life. They’re just too many unlikely factors that have to come together at the same time for such a situation to actually occur. Honestly, you’re probably more likely to win the lottery than to find love like that.
I know why people believe this myth though: because it’s convenient. It’s much easier to believe that love will just find you one day because you really want it, than to believe that if you want love in your life, you have to be proactive and go find it.
However, that is the truth. If you wanna have love, it’s not enough to just get out of the house. You need to actively expand your social circle and meet new people, deliberately initiate social interactions, and make quality conversation with others. You need to talk with a range of people, go on series of dates, test and explore, until you find someone you connect really well with.
That takes time and work. That requires good social skills and social confidence. And a lot of people find it hard to accept that; especially those who are shy and somewhat unskilled socially. So they prefer to believe a myth.
Nevertheless, believing a myth won’t get you far. You need to look reality in the eye, accept it and choose your action course based on it. It’s the only way to find real love.
If you’re shy, socially anxious or you lack social skills, seek help and work to fix this. Check out my instructional presentation about improving social confidence and join my free social confidence newsletter for more help from me in this area. Address the issue. Don’t delude yourself that love will just find you one day out of the blue.
Romantic relationships can be a very fulfilling part of your life. But you need to look for them, go into them and decide which way to take them based on rational beliefs and mindsets, not on unrealistic assumptions. So let’s put the love myths to rest.