When all is bliss
Maya Angelou coins it beautifully: First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love.”But as you surf that first wave of excited potential, where everything seems possible, you also start laying the ground for what comes after: the deepening, the learning to love, the more enduring attachments you form.
Not everyone gets to that stage of course. There can be many reasons, but here are five myths that I come across frequently in my work as a counsellor. They might shed light on the stuff that bubbles up for you too.
The myth of utter perfection
When we start out in a relationship, our filters for what grates, chafes, and irritates are turned way down. At some point, they kick back in. Wait, this person I love being with never (delete as appropriate) picks up their stuff; waits for me to finish my sentences; offers to help me with dinner; says thank you; the list can go on and on of course! The thing is, it’s what we do with that dawning realisation as the mists of infatuation clear, that our partner has, dare I say it, flaws and imperfections. The trouble can start if we get into the myth of ‘it has to be perfect’ for it work. That’s a hell of a pedestal to fall from.
Or ‘it isn’t perfect so it can’t be working.’ Both these beliefs are hostages to fortune. When we look at ourselves honestly, we know we are far from perfect. To expect perfection of others just sets us up for choppy waters ahead.
Equally, the thought ‘I have to have a perfect relationship to be happy’; the idea that there is only one formula and it has to be perfectly tuned to work might come and bite you. We end up in a place so rigid with expectation that it may lead to a moment of deep disappointment. Relationships often end at this point. Or recalibrate for a healthier way of being.
The myth of no difference
‘But we’re leading separate lives.’ I sometimes hear people talk about the distance in their relationship being something that brings pain. Don’t get me wrong. If you never see each other; live in different places and don’t really connect, then that distance might be too much.
But there is also healthy distance. The kind of distance that respects difference and knows that it breathes energy into a relationship rather than sapping it.
If you can’t bear to be away from a partner while they are doing something else, ask yourself, is that because you’re afraid of something in yourself or because they really are the god or goddess who breathes life into your very existence. You get where I’m coming from.
The myth of no conflict
Well yes. But there’s good conflict and bad conflict. Good conflict is about having differences and being able to negotiate them in an adult way, where power is equal, not exercised over or handed away.
Bad conflict is when healthy communication breaks down. If we act out anger rather than expressing it (by shouting, swearing, turning it on others or objects) then we have the potential to harm others and ourselves.
Equally if we become passive aggressive (sulking rather than responding; keeping our anger bottled up rather than saying how what we’re feeling) that can leave a partner mystified and confused, second guessing what they’ve done to upset you.
The myth of endless sex
Ok so there are some people for whom the intensity doesn’t die, whose sex drive, drives them on and on. For ever. More Duracell than the Duracell bunny. But for many people that simply isn’t the case. We transition from lust to love. From fast burn to slower burn. When the sex slows down, that’s the time when the relationship can deepen or founder. If communication dries up, if intimacy wanes then sex often does too.
Long lasting sexual intimacy is built not from the flames of first lust but from the ashes of it; it’s a recasting of your sexual relationship built again from deepening feelings of love. Oh and the other myth is that it always stays the same. Sex drive is tidal. It ebbs and flows; has spring tides and low waters. The key is to find the rhythm that suits you and your partner and to be able to express honestly what you need.
The myth of boundless excitement
Yes you want highs. But that’s the easy bit. Can you also tolerate the lows, the banal? The ‘who’s putting the rubbish’ out conversations. These are the cement in the relationship brickwork. Ignore them and the house might fall down.
So that’s five myths about relationships once you get past the ‘ yee ha’ months where anything and everything seems possible. Everyone is different, but if you are curious about what’s happening in your relationship, I wonder if any of these myths resonate.
If you’re struggling in your relationship, whether new or established, and would like a safe confidential space to explore, why not get in touch? I offer relationship counselling in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott (but not couples counselling.)