Everything is changing, and fast. Thousands of years ago, we had to make the best of the limited resources we had. We worked great together as a society, looked out for each other. Today, we’re all individually responsible for ourselves. This is one of the biggest impacts, if not the most, the advancement of society has had on us. And the consequences are profound.
For the last few decades, society has changed faster than our instinct could adapt to. This causes confusion on a fundamental level: We want something we don’t want, and we don’t want something we want.
It’s a mess. The divorce rate is getting higher. Well, why get married in the first place and seal a deal for better for worse? Just don’t. But, with the benefits married people enjoy, not getting married in order to avoid a nasty divorce is not an option. What bothers me the most is “Two love birds today, two sources of misery tomorrow.” Any relationship founded on love should end nicely if it must, on a mutual agreement. And both parties should be happy to be there for each other even if friendship doesn’t work out.
As of today, some traits of the primitive requirements are still embedded in us. And things have changed so much, so fast, that we often feel out of place without knowing why. This is because we’re still hunted by the eco of the things we needed to stay alive long ago that we don’t need anymore. We find it difficult to let go of those needs, which our instincts persistently tries to take care of. As a result, we fail to make the best of the abundant resources we have available today.
We still highly base partner selection on instincts, even though we don’t have the needs those instincts were meant to fulfill anymore. The result is, those archaic beliefs regularly clash with the values of today’s society. And this creates one ton of internal conflicts: instinct-based values vs. modern society based values. It’s the war of the Titans.
I mean, what would you choose to defend and protect, instinct or modern values? It’s an impossible decision. But, luckily for me, as an aspiring mathematician, we stick with what makes sense and ditch the rest, even when it hurts.
As you read the following headings, if you don’t disagree with me at first, that means either you’re the 1% that don’t fall for these 5 most popular relationship myths or I’m wrong about my claim that 99% of people fall for them.
Either way, please share your thoughts with me in the comment section or here.
Now, let’s get on with it.
Myth Nº 5: Your partner must meet your needs
Do you believe your partner must meet your needs? Or are you among the more romantic ones that would say the right way to go is to focus on meeting your partner’s needs, because that’s what love is about: caring for the person you love?
Long ago, human society was small and specialized. Each person had a role, and being with someone who is most capable of their role was a matter of life and death.
In the society of today, each person is highly capable of handling all areas of their own life. But why do we still fall in the trap of wanting someone to meet needs we can easily meet ourselves? For extra security, maybe?
Having a partner that meets our basic needs is not vital anymore. Our survival doesn’t depend on it let alone the survival of the species. Therefore, we should treat our partner’s ability to meet our needs as a preference. Our partner doesn’t have to meet our needs, it’d be nice if they did. What’d be fun is if everybody is able to meet their own needs: when you then get something from a partner, you appreciate and enjoy it as an “extra.”
You can be with someone whose strengths are your weaknesses and vice versa, and complement each other. You’d give each other support while each person simply lives their lives, doing what they doing best. Without the responsibility of one person meeting the other person’s needs.
What I’m trying to say is, if you find someone who meets your needs without trying to, and you meet the person’s needs while you simply live your life as you want, this is the best way to achieve a full relationship. Because, if you meet each other’s needs without even trying, and both of you aim to grow together, to grow into each other, then nothing would be able to stand in your way.
Modern society makes everyone capable of taking absolute responsibility for themselves. You don’t have to meet your partner’s needs nor does your partner have to meet yours (except for special situations.) So, aim to have a full life yourself and everything else will fall in place. If you expect someone to meet your needs instead of meeting the needs yourself, you’re always going to have unmet needs.
Myth Nº 4: Your other half
In Spanish, we say “media Naranja” to refer to a partner. It’s just a way of speaking, yes. But it also implies you need that “other half” to be whole. In the society of today, that belief can’t be any further from the truth. I don’t find each person to be a half orange–or half anything for that matter. I like the idea that each person is a full orange that comes together to make a delicious orange juice that fills the cup.
Each person is not a half that joins forces to become a whole. Each person is a whole that joins forces to become a bigger whole. We have more chances of attaining a fulfilling relationship if a person, as a whole, enters into a relationship with someone who is also a whole. Be “independently dependent” on each other. It’s not your partner’s duty to strengthen your weaknesses. They’re there to make things–that are already good–easier and better.
Myth Nº 3: Your partner should make you happy
We all know that someone or something that can make us happy the most also has more potential to make us sad. If you think your partner should make you happy, then you should also think they should make you sad. But this is an unacceptable thought.
You can’t want the happiness and abore the sadness, it all comes in a pack. If you want the happiness to become an olympian but you despise the sadness of failure so strongly, you will never try. The most successful people in life are the people that fail most. The happiest people in life are the people that are best at being sad. The best winners are also the best losers.
This doesn’t mean your partner should make you happy in order to make you sad. It means, they should neither make you happy nor sad. Whichever comes, accept it as you always aim for the best.
Your happiness depends more on you than anyone else. Happiness is a choice. It is a lifestyle that can be practiced. Exactly the same thing can make one person happy and another sad. Exactly the same thing can make you happy today and sad tomorrow. Focus on surrounding yourself with things that make you happy and share your happiness with the people around you. Same as you would like to be around a happy person.
In a relationship, both parties are supposed to share happiness with each other, instead of being each other’s source of happiness. Being happy together is the way to achieve fulfillment in a relationship.
Myth Nº 2: Spend quality time together
One of the most important ways people claim to express love is by spending quality time together. If this was actually the way to go, the more quality time is spent together, the better the relationship would be. In this case, astronauts, pilots, spies and people with other “on the move” and time-consuming jobs wouldn’t have a chance of being in a relationship.
What I found to be common in a fulfilling relationship is, instead of striving to spend quality time together or be sad if not possible, they spend time together whenever possible. Not quality time, just time. They can do some silly meaningless things, simply enjoying the presence of each other even if they’re in the same room, each person doing something different. When it’s not possible to be together, they have ease of mind knowing that they’re in the life of the person they’re missing. They’re happy for the person, whatever they’re doing, wherever they are. They don’t doubt if the person has them in mind because they know they do: they can feel it.
How about the feeling of knowing your loved one will be by your side in a snap of a finger–no matter how important what they were doing is–no questions asked?
Of course, nothing wrong with wanting to be as close as possible to your loved one. But you wouldn’t crave their attention so much that it puts a strain on the relationship. If they’re not present or available, you’d miss them but that will only increase the intensity of your happiness when you see them again. You shouldn’t crave spending quality time together but appreciate the fact that you’re in their life. That’s how you find fulfillment in the time you can spend together.
Myth Nº 1: Be with someone you love
Woah… hold on a minute. How can “be with someone you love” be a myth?
Well, sorry to break it to you: it is.
You see, love is a risky game. If it turns out well, it can be the best thing ever. But if it doesn’t, it will be devastating. Some people suffer unnecessary struggles in the name of love.
The thing is, love is an effect, not a cause. But yet, people can’t stop treating love like a cause. Is it true that you are (or want to be) with someone because you love them? Or do you want to be with them because there are qualities in them that you value and appreciate that makes you love them? This means you want to be with them because of those qualities, not because of love.
Love does make you stay with them and try to work things out. But, if your values are misguided— which happens too frequently — , loving someone can be a source of misery. There is more to this but what’s important to know is, love is an effect, not a cause. For a fulfilling relationship, focus on the cause.
And, what’s that?
They say love is blind, so romantic. But it’s also problematic.
If you value and appreciate someone, you’re bound to develop love for them.
The problem is, when we get carried away, we fail to see what’s best for us. When we develop love for someone whose value we don’t fully accept, there’s always going to be friction. The friction could be reduced if things are laid on the table: then we know what we’re up for, what we’re getting into. This is how we can avoid disappointment from having false expectations.
If love is the best reason for getting into and being in a relationship, why is the divorce rate so high nowadays? Better yet, why do some couples decide to split up even when they still love each other dearly?
Some people are addicted to “falling in love.” If they’re not in love with someone, they’ll not agree to go on a date. If this works well, there’s no reason to do it any differently. But the fact is, the people that do this are also the people that are more prone to getting hurt.
The bottom line is, the belief of “be with someone you love” is the biggest relationship hoax. Instead, be with someone you value, appreciate and accept. If you also deeply understand the person, then above the sky is your limit. If you do this, you will not only end up loving and being loved by the right people, you will also realize how easily love comes if you live your life appropriately.
The one law to rule them all
For a fulfilling relationship, live by Kant’s Categorical Imperative: Treat people — including yourself — as an end, not as a means to an end.
To have a clearer view of what your values are, and be free from falling for these myths, make a list of your:
- Fundamental and core values. This includes moral values.
- Basic needs. What you need to survive.
- Preferences. This is how you express your moral values and choose how you satisfy your basic needs.
You will be surprised how difficult it is to fit things in the right category. But, you will be clearer about what you stand for in life if you do. And you will know what to give priority to and defend vs. what you can sacrifice. Mind you, the three categories are entangled and fluent. Depending on the context, a need can be a preference or a preference can become a need. Sometimes, it’s best to sacrifice preferences for needs and sometimes it’s best to defend core values over needs.
The point is, this is not meant to be a rule to live by but a way to gain more awareness of what matters most to us at every giving moment and make better decisions.
If you found this post helpful, and you want to share your thoughts with me or ask me a question, leave a comment or send me an email here.