Movies and social media are particularly efficient at generating myths about what romance and sex are meant to be like, and what you should aspire to have. However, what’s visually interesting and dramatic in a movie is likely to be the last thing to fully capture the meaningful and complex composition of a great relationship.
Unfortunately, many people feel unhappy and disappointed when their relationships aren’t what they’re told they’re supposed to be. So here are seven myths that you can do without in your life.
Proposing in public is romantic
From sports games to restaurants to live television, there are a lot of highly entertaining proposal videos out there, and it’s certainly lovely to see people so emotional and happy. But real romance and relationships are more intimate and less public. They involve more discussion and work than these viral videos let on. A relationship with another person should be less of a performance, and more of a dialogue to reach a profound understanding. When it comes to deciding the long-term future together, you might want to put the camera away.
Suffering is romantic
While suffering is a great dramatic device for formulaic Hollywood movies, it doesn’t make real-life relationships any better. Sure, you can get a kind of pleasant pain when you miss your significant other. But just like when your body hurts to tell you to stop touching the burning pan or that you need some rest, pain in a relationship is usually an indication that something needs to change. That story where the guy is married but meets his true love, but won’t leave his wife and keeps the “true” love a secret until she threatens to leave him and… yeah, that’s rubbish.
Love is a game
The man tries to “get” a woman by using all sorts of cunning conversation starters and courting techniques, and the woman “plays” hard to get and… whatever. Leave the points, scoring, achievements and trophies for computer games and sports. A partner isn’t a prize for showing off, and relationships aren’t competitions with winners. Mature human beings who see their partner as another human being don’t need a book with pick-up lines and extra-fancy cologne. Just hang out, work on things together and see how it goes.
Sex in a pool is great
Oh, it certainly looks like fun. But like a lot of movie sex scenes, the reality is much less comfortable or practical. And by practical, I don’t mean boring, I mean physically possible. Water washes away the vagina’s natural lubrication, making intercourse quite difficult and some abrasions likely. A pool with chlorine can also lead to an irritated vagina or bacterial vaginosis.
Similarly, sex in traditional movies tends to be heterosexual sex, with positions that often please men more than women. No, thank you.
The first time with someone will be incredible
It may happen like that, but it’s highly unlikely. Sex involves a whole lot of communication and learning about the other person, which is unlikely to have happened before your first hook up. If it’s not the first relationship, people may still have sexual habits based on what a previous partner preferred. A lot of people have sensitive spots, difficulties or STDs they need to communicate to a partner, so that fairy-tale scenario where you’re both throwing your clothes around the room and instantly finding the perfect rhythm that breaks the bed, may not actually work for people in real life.
In fact, the best sex, according to research, takes place between couples who have been together for at least 15 years. By then, people stop performing sex, they stop experiencing the pressure that comes with performance, and couples should know well what their partner needs.
He pays for dinner, she sits and looks pretty
Beyond the fact that not everyone is in a male/female relationship, the idea that men should do certain things in a relationship and women should do other things is quite harmful. Sharing the bill, or taking turns to cook for each other, and basically being decent human beings with a strong sense of equality, leads to much more happiness than rigid gender roles.
Beyond generating and reinforcing stereotypes that harm both genders, and disempower women, gender roles contain a bunch of rules about what people in a couple can’t do. Women can’t propose, men can’t cry, women can’t spoon men, men can’t be shorter, women can’t be physically strong and carry their partner into the house, men can’t get dressed up, women can’t stick their finger to fashion and makeup. And the thing is, none of these rules are based on logic, and none of them make anyone happier or freer. So screw them.
There is one love story only
The story starts with two lonely halves who search for each other, encounter some obstacles and ultimately join as a single whole, to be in bliss for ever. Usually, the two halves are a man and a woman, usually they are young and usually they meet the world’s boring rules of what it means to be “good looking.”
But guess what? These are the last things you should be including in your list of ingredients for a wonderful relationship. The first ingredient you actually need to embrace is diversity and not caring about other people and their relationships. In real life, relationships can be between people of the same gender, between older people, between people of different religions and between the 99 percent of us who don’t conform to the boring beauty rules. The other ingredients are also pretty common sense: respect, understanding, being on the same page in terms of the kind of relationship you’d both like, and a whole lot of humanity.
As philosopher Erick Fromm said, “Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.”
What other myths about love and relationships can you think of?
— Tamara Pearson