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What You’re Getting Wrong in Relationships

Jul. 22, 2022 Psychology Today

What if everything you think you know about relationships is wrong? 

Ok, maybe not everything, but relationships are complicated and your training is limited. Just think, how did you learn about relationships? Perhaps you picked up some tips from your parents, watching TV, chatting with friends, or good old-fashioned trial and error. Unfortunately, these sources can’t guarantee true expertise about having a healthy relationship. The result? It’s impossible to know if you’re relying on well-established fact, or well-intentioned fiction. 

To set the record straight, I reached out to an all-star group of top relationship experts to get their insights. Specifically, I asked them what couples most commonly get wrong. In other words, the myths, mistakes, and blind spots that unknowingly undermine relationships. Plus, they gave some tips for how to get it right. 

The Experts

Dr. Helen Fisher: Biological Anthropologist, Senior Research Fellow The Kinsey Institute, and Chief Science Advisor to; Author of Anatomy of Love.

Men are Misunderstood—The pandemic produced an historic change in courtship—toward post-traumatic growth. Prior to Covid, 58 perent of singles wanted to settle down; today 76 percent want a committed relationship. And, men are leading the way. People misunderstand men. In my studies on over 55,000 single Americans (not Match members), men fall in love faster and more often; they want to move in together faster, and they are more likely to believe that a ‘hook up’ can lead to love. Today, men are far more likely to want a committed relationship within the next year. Commitment is the new sexy. 

Dr. Gary Lewandowski: Author of Stronger Than You Think: The 10 Blind Spots That Undermine Your Relationship…and How to See Past Them

What is Love?—It’s easy to fall in love because of intense physical attraction and passion. But, making that deep passion the foundation of your relationship can be problematic because it quickly fades. For a stronger relationship, focus more on companionate love, or the ways in which your partner is your best friend, such as shared interests, the time you enjoy spending together, and mutual respect. Those are the true key to lasting love.

Damona Hoffman: Certified Dating Coach and Host of The Dates & Mates Podcast

The Soulmate Myth—Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe in soulmates: the idea that there is one single person who is your perfect match. While it’s a charming idea for a rom-com or fairytale, in practice it leads people who are single to be constantly on the quest for perfection among those they date in search of this magical soulmate feeling that is ultimately unattainable. In relationships, the belief in soulmates keeps us from being willing to accept our partner’s flaws and see them as imperfect humans who are learning and growing alongside us. The reality is that there are many possible matches out there for you and it’s really about finding someone who aligns with your values and goals for the future to partner with for this wild ride we call life. 

Jaime Bronstein, LCSW: Licensed Relationship Therapist and host of “Love Talk Live” on LA Talk Radio.

Always Happy?—It’s easy to think that you have to be happy in your relationship all the time, but the truth is, we are all human, and no one is happy all the time. If there is a blip in the relationship, so long as both people are willing to work through it, things can get better, and you can restore your level of happiness. Relationships ebb and flow and are forever changing, so it’s essential to be flexible and roll with the changes. As long as you grow together and do not grow apart, your relationship is in great shape! 

Dr. Wendy Walsh: Host of the Dr. Wendy Walsh Show on iHeart Radio and the podcast, Mating Matters.

Different Ways to Love—People think that all humans feel the same when they are in love. That misconception prompts a bunch of “shoulds,” as in, “If they really loved me then they should…” But, the truth is that there are probably as many versions of love as there are people. You’ve got people with a secure attachment style where love may feel pleasurable, peaceful, and safe. Or, you’ve got people with an insecure attachment style, where the excitement of love may combine with feelings of fear and anxiety. And these people may be in a relationship together! Knowing and having compassion for each other’s attachment styles is the key to love. There’s more than one right way to be human, and there are many ways to feel love. 

Susan Winter: Bestselling Author of Breakup Triage and Allowing Magnificence.

Love Equals Intuition—“If my partner loves me, they should know what’s wrong.” Not so. Love doesn’t grant our partner telepathy. Clearly communicating our feelings is what aids our mate in understanding how to support us and our emotional needs.

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