7 harmful myths society tells us about love

Throughout my adult life, I’ve often questioned the usual stories we hear about love. Maybe it’s just the skeptic in me, but I do believe that society has led us to believe so many harmful myths about love.

Even though I’m okay with challenging these common beliefs, I often get questioned by people close to me – like partners, family, and friends – who hint that maybe I should just go along with these ideas.

That’s the key word for me – “go along”. I’m not one for going along with an idea without first understanding it.

So, in that spirit, today, I’d like to talk about 7 harmful myths about love that society often tells us.

By the end, I hope to show that it’s okay to question what society says about love, and it’s also okay to agree with it.

In the end, what we believe about love should come from our own thoughts and understanding, not from what others tell us.

Let’s get started!

1) Love is effortless

This was a challenging one for me to accept.

“Falling in love instantly” came from the belief that love is a magical, effortless process. But the reality is that love is what blossoms after consistent effort and understanding.

Let me explain:

Think about your relationships right now. Trust builds gradually. Understanding deepens over time. Your bond strengthens with each shared experience. While reading these words, you’ve probably recalled a few moments that required effort in your relationship.

If you’re going to be in a relationship, it’s essential to accept that love isn’t effortless. It requires conscious effort.

It’s crucial to let go of the illusion that love is a fairy tale that unfolds without any work. It isn’t. Your actions contribute to it, and they are most effective when they happen with thoughtfulness. When you act consciously.

2) Love means never having to say you’re sorry

“Never having to say you’re sorry” stems from the belief that love is an all-forgiving, all-justifying force. But the truth is that love thrives when there’s mutual respect and accountability.

In any relationship, it’s vital to accept that saying “sorry” isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s an act of strength.

What’s more, believing that love excuses all wrongs without any need for apologies sets us up for emotional wounds and abuse.

Acknowledging your mistakes is part of the effort I was talking about earlier. And it’s more impactful when your apologies are sincere and heartfelt.  

3) Love at first sight is real

The myth of “love at first sight” can be particularly harmful because it sets unrealistic expectations about how relationships should form and develop.

This notion suggests that a deep, instant connection is a hallmark of true love. As a result, many of us dismiss potential relationships that might start more slowly or require effort to grow.

Here’s a deeper dive into why this myth can be damaging:

First, it makes us think that love should happen right away. If it doesn’t, we might think something’s wrong. But in reality, strong relationships usually take time to build. They grow from shared experiences and getting to know each other.

It also makes us focus too much on looks and first impressions. We forget that things like sharing the same values and really understanding each other are what make a relationship last. When we chase after an instant spark, we might miss out on a deeper connection that takes time to develop.

This myth also pressures us to make quick decisions about who could be the right partner. We might rush into things or give up too easily. It’s like we’re looking for a fairy-tale moment instead of a real person to grow with.

Plus, it makes us idealize people, instead of seeing them for who they really are—flaws and all. That’s not good for building a real, lasting love.

Love is more about a journey than a single moment. It’s about learning about each other, facing challenges together, and growing. Moving past the myth of love at first sight helps us see the value in building connections slowly and deeply.

4) Love means never having disagreements

When I was younger, I used to believe that a perfect relationship meant no arguments. I would suppress my feelings to maintain the illusion of harmony. I wanted to avoid conflict and keep the bond strong.

But when I suppressed my feelings, I slipped into the habit of thinking that my partner’s contentment was more important than my emotional health. I would lose touch with my own needs. I would become frustrated and probably not such a pleasant person to be around.

But now I know better. My past relationships have taught me to reflect more on my actions and change how I behave. I am learning to voice my concerns and appreciate the importance of constructive disagreement in relationships.

True enough, relationship experts stress that arguing can actually be healthy for your relationship, as long as you do so respectfully. 

How you handle disagreements is what matters, not the unrealistic expectation of a conflict-free relationship.

5) Love should make you feel complete

Love makes you complete 7 harmful myths society tells us about love

This was a myth I bought into for a long time (thanks to Tom Cruise’s iconic line in Jerry Maguire). I had this romanticized notion that another person should fill the gaps in my life, making me feel whole and satisfied.

I remember falling into a relationship thinking this was it; I had found the missing piece of my puzzle. But as weeks turned into months, I realized something unsettling. Instead of feeling complete, I felt more lost, more confused.

I had surrendered my individuality, my personal growth, and my self-love, believing that love from another person should be enough. I ignored my hobbies, my passions in pursuit of this completeness.

But love is not about finding completeness in another person. It’s about enhancing your completeness. It’s about sharing two wholes and not about filling each other’s voids.

Realizing this, I began to invest time in myself again—picking up hobbies, nurturing friendships outside the relationship, focusing on personal growth. I stopped waiting for someone else to complete me and started appreciating myself as a complete individual.

The myth that love should make you feel complete can lead to an unhealthy dependency. It’s vital to remember that you are whole as you are, and love should merely enrich that wholeness.

6) Love should always be passionate

The romantic novels and Hollywood movies have painted a picture of love as an unending saga of passion and romance. They portray love as a constant whirlwind of emotions, where every moment is filled with intense passion and desire.

Here’s the key point:

This portrayal can lead us to question our relationships when the initial intensity wanes and everyday routine sets in. We mistake the fading of passion for falling out of love.

But, according to relationship experts, it’s completely natural for passionate love to evolve into companionate love, which is more about deep affection, connection, and comfort.

For those feeling unsure, understanding this shift can provide a sense of reassurance. It’s a reminder that love is not just about grand gestures and intense emotions but also about companionship and comfort in each other’s presence.

Recognizing this evolution in love encourages us to see our relationship as a growing entity and can provide a sense of security and acceptance.

7) Love is all you need

This phrase, popularized by a famous song, can lead us to believe that love is the single most important factor in a successful relationship. It suggests that as long as there is love, all other issues can be overlooked.

However, this isn’t entirely true.

While love is undoubtedly important, it isn’t the sole ingredient for a healthy and fulfilling partnership. Mutual respect, communication, understanding, and compromise are equally significant aspects of a solid relationship.

In fact, blindly adhering to the “love is all you need” philosophy might prevent us from addressing fundamental problems in our relationships. Love alone cannot resolve communication issues, differences in values, or incompatible life goals.

A relationship built solely on the foundation of love, without the supporting pillars of respect, understanding, and compromise can crumble under the weight of real-life challenges.

So yes, love is essential. But it’s not all you need. It’s just one piece of a larger puzzle that makes up a stable and satisfying relationship.

Final thoughts

Because they are prevalent in literature, media, and popular culture, these myths influence our understanding and expectations of love. They play a pivotal role in how we perceive and engage in relationships.

For many of us, debunking these myths might be a key factor in cultivating healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Recognizing the inaccuracies in these illusions could bring a sense of clarity and realism that sets us up better for success.

It’s time to lose these harmful myths about love. It’s time to embrace the reality of love – in all its beauty and complexity. After all, that’s part of what it means to truly love.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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