by The Indigo Project
Love is great. Love is good. We’re all for love here at Indigo, but we also see a lot of popular myths floating around when love is involved. We wanted to debunk a few of these firmly entrenched myths that continue to shape and warp our idea of what “real love” is…
1. When it’s real love, it’s passionate & tumultuous
We can thank the romantics for this one. They were “drunk in love” with the idea that, for emotions to be valid, they had to be sweeping, overwhelming and intoxicating. Then Hollywood perpetuated this trope even more. As a result, many of us grew up with this idea of what love “should” be – wild, intense and overpowering – and when it’s not, we become suspicious, disinterested or bored. Although love can certainly be passionate and tumultuous, this type of high-octane emotional intensity can wear you down over time. Alternatively, the hormones that flood your brain in this particular state (similar to those that show up when you’re on cocaine…) can leave you jonesing and addicted to this type of “love” feeling – continuously chasing high without ever investing in deep, vulnerable connection. But the truth is that these types of sweeping and passionate feelings in loving relationships mellow over time, and that’s nothing to fret about. It’s completely normal. There is also fulfilment in a love that feels safe, comfortable and committed – with a bit of spice thrown in now and then for good measure.
2. When it’s real love, your lover knows exactly want you need, when you need it
Truth-bomb: When you fall in love with someone, you do not automatically develop mind-reading powers. We usually don’t possess the ability to know exactly what someone else is thinking and wanting – regardless of the number of times we’ve stared lovingly into their eyes or sucked on their earlobes (among other things). Perpetuating the idea that lovers should know the wants and needs of their partners without clear communication is doing love and relationships a huge disservice. It’s about time we started celebrating clear communication as a cornerstone of love and relationships! After all, your greatest chance of getting what you want and making yourself feel heard in a relationship is by speaking clearly and assertively about how you feel and what you need.
3. When it’s real love, the sex is always bangin’
Another popular love myth is that sex is always a metaphor for the quality of a relationship. When sex is good, people think the relationship is good, and if it’s not, well…something must be up. While issues in the bedroom might be reflective of certain issues related to desire and intimacy, a lot of time, it’s a beast of it’s own (just ask Esther Perel) – and does not necessarily reflect how deeply or authentically people love one another. It’s also important for people to take responsibility for communicating and expressing sexual desires and preferences within relationships. As with the above point, it’s difficult to know what someone wants without clear communication, and our bodies and sexual needs vary tremendously from person to person. Talking openly and expressively about what we want in the bedroom might not sound super sexy, but it definitely contributes to greater fulfilment and satisfaction in our sexual lives in the long term.
4. When it’s real love, you sacrifice everything to make them happy
*Cue co-dependency alarm bells* This one goes out to all of us who grew up thinking that love is the ultimate act of self-sacrifice (The Giving Tree children’s book, anyone?). In love, it makes sense to want to help make our partner/s happy, but this shouldn’t be done at the detriment of our own safety and wellbeing. People who cling to this love-myth are more at risk of finding themselves in manipulative and abusive relationships, where partners can take advantage of the desire to please them at all costs. To be in a healthy, balanced relationship, it pays to have a good understanding of what makes you feel happy, safe and comfortable – and make those things a priority (not just a luxurious indulgence!). As that popular phrase goes, “You should fit your own oxygen mask before assisting others” – this goes for love as well as air travel. Give yourself what you need, and you’ll find you have greater capacity to help your partner/s as a result.
5. When it’s real love, it’s always forever
…and if it’s not forever, was it really love? This one is perpetuated through those soppy wedding vows, where we equate “real love” to a timeless and immortal experience that exists across a lifetime and even beyond, into death! Wow. Talk about pressure. This can be problematic for a few reasons – firstly, claiming that a love is a “forever-thing” almost relinquishes one’s responsibility to continuously maintain and support it. After all, why would you bother when you know it’s “til death do you part?”. Secondly, it might discount experiences of past and lost love that were so meaningful and important during earlier times of your life. Sometimes love can be incredibly meaningful but fleeting. Which should not suggest that these experiences of love were not “real”. We can learn exceptional lessons and find incredible fulfilment in these brief or prematurely-concluded relationships. It’s important to remain open to love however it might show up and affect us in our lives – and not only revere the type of love that endure