The 5 Biggest Dating Myths Ruining Your Relationships, Therapists Say
Don't stop a budding romance before it even starts.
Relationships are hard enough. You have to decipher your emotions, communicate them effectively, and engage with your partner in a way that won't lead to disappointment or heartbreak. But these things are even harder when misinformation abounds. According to countless advice columnists and relationship gurus, there is a slew of dating and relationship "rules." But professionals tell us that most of those are bogus. Read on for the dating myths that therapists say ruin relationships, and learn how to stop these instinctive behaviors before they even start. A healthier approach to romance begins now.
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Play it cool to avoid looking desperate.
The idea that you should curb your excitement about a budding relationship to avoid looking "desperate" is a total myth. "Although there is certainly some measure of this that may be true—for example, it may not necessarily be the best idea to propose to someone on a first date—it is more vital for you to be yourself," says Janet Park, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Healing Phoenix Therapy in Los Angeles. "When we 'play it cool' too much, it can send mixed messages to our dating interests and reinforce a lack of openness with one another and create barriers to healthy communication."
What's more, there's nothing wrong with expressing that you're looking for a long-term or serious relationship. "Honest communication, as well as honoring your needs and those of your partner, are important components that make up a healthy relationship," Park adds. "It's important to start with that at the get-go and to filter out dating prospects who don't respond to that." If the person you're dating sees that openness as desperation, then they may not be the best match for you.
You should never go to bed angry.
We've all heard the "rule" that you should never go to bed angry at your partner. Well, relationship therapists say it's not true. "Putting deadlines on when you have to resolve conflict piles pressure onto an already challenging situation, and it can end up being a pretty uneasy truce," says clinical psychologist Carissa Coulston. "If you haven't given yourselves time to come to a natural understanding and conclusion, then neither party will be satisfied or happy with the situation." When that happens, it can cause the problem to linger—which can sour your relationship over time as you'll never truly get to the bottom of the issue.
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Jealousy is a sign your partner cares.
No, it's not normal for your partner to get mad when you hit the town with co-workers or text friends. And no, it's definitely not a sign of their love. "This can be a dangerous assumption when dating because jealousy is typically a sign of insecurity and an attempt to control your actions," says Ellie Borden, registered psychotherapist and clinical director of Mind By Design. "While it is normal to feel jealousy occasionally, your partner being overly jealous could mean they are not confident in your relationship and could also be a sign of emotional abuse." Instead of writing off their actions, see them for the red flags that they are.
Taking the next "big step" will fix your relationship.
If your relationship feels stagnant or on the decline, a proposal or pregnancy won't make it better. "This is a myth that comes up in long-term relationships and can lead to unhappiness and ultimately a more complicated breakup when the couple believes that the problem could go away on its own," says Borden. "In reality, it is important to work out your… problems directly and respectfully and determine if the relationship is worth saving rather than assume that a greater commitment is what will save [it]." Couples counseling may help you navigate these decisions.
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Going to couples counseling means your relationship is doomed.
Speaking of couples counseling—it doesn't mean your relationship is in dire straights. "Seeking therapy isn't a sign that your relationship is all but over, it's actually a sign that you're keen to make things work more effectively and to put things right that are going wrong," says Coulston. "Couples should see couples counseling as a preventative measure, not a cure. Waiting until everything that was good about the relationship has gone is tantamount to disaster, but if you get help at the first sign of possible cracks appearing, you can take the opportunity to grow closer as a couple and learn new ways of resolving conflicts that are healthier and more constructive."