5 Lies We’ve Been Taught About Relationships & What to Do About It
Every relationship I have ever had has been a codependent one. If you had asked me if I was codependent I would have looked at you like you were crazy. I’m a powerful woman. I can do anything I set my mind to. I do what I want! I don’t care what anyone thinks or says about me!
Then I learned what co-dependence really is and I was shocked. Co-dependence is actually worrying more about someone else’s happiness or well-being than your own. It’s about putting other people’s needs first. It’s about being in control. Wait…? I was taught all of those things were good. Nope.
Here are five lies we’ve been taught about relationships and what you can do about it:
- You are responsible for other people’s happiness if you love them
You are responsible for your own happiness. No one can make you happy. You choose to be happy or unhappy when you are with someone. In the same way, you can’t make anyone else happy. They choose to be happy with you or they don’t. You can’t force someone to be happy. If you’ve ever tried to cheer someone up and done everything you could think of to make someone happy and it didn’t work, you know this is true.
Taking on someone else’s happiness will only create misery for you. You will start changing your mood to match theirs. You can even get to a point where you aren’t happy if they aren’t happy because you feel like you somehow failed at your responsibility. You didn’t. Stop taking on responsibility for other people and become responsible for yourself. Be an example of how to create happiness for yourself that other people can learn from.
- Compromising so the other person is happy and you’re not is normal
We’re taught that relationships are about compromise. We’re taught that one person gets to be happy and the other has to settle. Compromise is about both partners being happy.
If one person wants to go to the movies but you’d rather go to the beach, allow that to happen. Maybe you call a different friend to go with you since your partner doesn’t want to go and don’t get upset or take it personally. Maybe you decide that you both want to go dancing instead of the beach or movies. That’s compromise.
- You’re supposed to want to be together all the time and like all of the same stuff
Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you become their whole life or you theirs. You had a life before you met them. You had friends, family, hobbies, and other things you did for fun. If you didn’t, it’s time to start figuring out who you are when you’re alone. Don’t change your routine or activities because you are in a relationship. That’s a recipe for disaster and you’ll end up feeling smothered.
Expecting your partner to stop doing the things they did before they met you is unrealistic and unloving. Your partner expecting you to stop your activities to be with them is a warning sign. To have a healthy, loving relationship both partners need to be able to grow and explore themselves on their own without their partner. You should encourage each other to explore new activities alone, as well.
- If you’re feeling hurt all of the time because of something your partner is doing and you forgive them, that’s love
As mentioned in step one, we are responsible for our own happiness. If we are feeling hurt all of the time because of our partner, it’s time to start asking some question.
- am I wanting my partner to give me a feeling or fill a need I am responsible for filling? How can I fulfill this need or feeling for myself?
- is what I want a reasonable thing to expect from my partner (For example, wanting our partner to drop everything to do what we want is not reasonable)?
- what can I do to create happiness for myself right now without my partner?
If this is something that is very important to you and you’ve discussed this with your partner calmly when you weren’t upset about it to figure out a solution together and it is not something they are willing to do, then it may be time to find a new partner. If this involves something that is mentally or physically harmful to you, then it is time to leave. Forgiving someone for repeatedly hurting you, not respecting your boundaries, or mentally or physically harming you is not love, that’s self-abuse.
- I should want to give everything to the other person if I love them
Many of us were taught that if we love someone we give them everything we have. The trouble with that is if we just give and give to other people, eventually we run out of things to give and are left feeling empty and used. Then we get mad because we have nothing left and blame our partner for this, when this was our choice all along.
We must give to ourselves before we have anything to give to anyone else. This means we must keep our emotional, mental, and physical state in good health. To do that, we create ways to spend time with other friends and family doing things we love to do and spending time alone doing what we want. We have to fill ourselves up to overflowing so that we have something to give in the first place.
If you’ve believed any of these lies, know that you are not alone. We’re taught from a young age that what we want, feel, and need doesn’t matter. They do. The first step to changing anything is becoming aware that you are doing it. Now that you know these things, you can start creating a loving, healthy relationship for yourself and your partner.