We hold many beliefs about romance that are harmful for our relationships, ultimately causing distress for ourselves and perhaps those around us too. It’s going to be good for you to get rid of these assumptions, if you hold them. Be prepared to have false assumptions about love shattered and new, hopefully more useful, understandings put in place.
One study has shown that 90% of young people look to film and 94% to television for their information on love and relationships. That number is incredibly high. Imagine the amount of misinformation that could be easily spread through these mediums, condemning generations to unrealistic standards about relationships. If I sound dramatic, it’s because the situation warrants it. I’m sure almost everyone understands that films and television are fictional yet people are drawing lessons from these mediums. I’m sure that most of this learning is unconscious. Science exploring conscious learning through film shows that those using this method are more likely to internalise the unrealistic beliefs. Saying that, it’s not all bad. Some lessons from film and TV can be truly great yet, with so much choice in what to view, especially with so many video-streaming services, you can’t guarantee you’ll get the good stuff.
One of these beliefs is the idea that one true soul-mate is out there for everyone. Mathematically speaking, this is near impossible. There’s also the possibility that your “soul-mate” isn’t alive at the same time as you are. Studies show that people who don’t believe in this have higher relationship satisfaction and are less likely to prematurely end a relationship. Beliefs linked to this, but also possibily independent of it, include that our partner(s) should be aware of our needs and desires without us communicating them outright and sex should always be perfect and effortless (something men believe in more). People holding both of these beliefs have been shown to have increased relationship distress, reduced relationship satisfaction and destructive problem-solving. You can’t read your partner’s mind and they can’t read yours. To have a truly satisfying relationship you’ll need to constantly communicate (among other things). Plenty of things can get in the way of sex, don’t be afraid to plan or really prepare for it, it doesn’t need to be spontaneous to be great. Sex isn’t for everyone either, people have varying levels of sexual desire and some people have none at all, referred to as asexuality. On top of providing you with unrealistic beliefs about love (equally held by men and women), TV consumption has been linked to increases in the belief that men and women are different. In reality, when men and women are born, there are very few neurological differences and the differences come about as a result of strict, gendered socialisation.
Realising that both you and your partner are flawed will be hugely beneficial to your relationship. Really understanding this message will help increase the level of tolerance and generosity between you both. Another thing to understand are that you can’t find everything in one person, your partner(s) may not be able to provide you with everything you need so don’t neglect your family and friends as soon as you enter a romantic relationship. Practicalities are also very important to discuss early on, don’t just go with it because you feel a certain way about someone, you need to think about the practicalities surrounding your potential relationship. This can include things such as money and housing.
Understanding that a relationship consists of all of these things can help you have a more satisfying time. Don’t allow unrealistic beliefs to waste your time and damage your health. Despite the negative picture I’ve painted of films, don’t forego them completely. It was found that married couples that watched films depicting long-term relationships and discussed them afterwards had lower divorce rates than a control group. Be careful of the media that you consume and always think about what information you’re being presented with, even this post.
http://www.cios.org/EJCPUBLIC/017/3/01735.HTML – soul-mates, perfect sex, mind reading & TV/film consumption
– flaws, loneliness, practicalities
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03637751.2013.776697 – conscious learning
http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/ccp/81/6/949/ – movies being helpful