No one has ever said that romantic relationships were easy and if they did, they're either lying, or they've really been blessed with a gift and don't experience relationship struggles. In which case, they should be a therapist and write a bestselling book that gives us all their secrets. But until that happens, we have to keep doing things the hard way which is to try hard, practice and then if all else fails, brain the dummy with a frying pan and sip a cocktail as we window shop on eHarmony.
One of the unique things about relationships is that there are usually two people in them which means there are two sides to every argument and two possibilities for why the relationship is failing. We all want to blame everything on our sweetie, but it rarely occurs to us to look at what we're contributing to the problem.
Sadly, there are a lot of lies, rules and general beliefs that can set us women up for relationship failure that we're likely not even aware of. Throw in our own histories and personalities, and we've got quite a mess to sort through and straighten out. This is simply a list of the general lies, beliefs and other well-intentioned misinformation that could derail our relationships. So, settle down, have a nice adult beverage and prepare to take notes.
16 He's Mean Because He Likes You
This is perhaps one of the biggest lies out there that sets women up for relationship failure at a very young age. When boys and girls are young, in school and being rough kids—someone is bound to get hurt, and when it is the girl who is bleeding and the boy who is snickering in the background, action needs to be taken. Otherwise, this situation will escalate in ways we will later regret deeply as adults. When we tell our daughters, sisters, and friends that...
"He's only mean because he likes you," what we're really saying is, "If he loves you, he'll be mean you, and that's how you'll know it's true." That doesn't really sound like a fun message to receive.
As Babble puts it, "Putting the blame on your child for being hurt tells them that you are not a part of a support system for them when they need you most, and they may not tell you when they’re hurt in the future."
When that child grows up into one of us and finds herself in a dangerous situation, she likely won't tell anyone who can help till it's too late because of this subconscious line of reasoning.
15 You Need A Man To Be Happy
This is an older belief that we don't hear quite as often and thankfully, it's no longer as true as it once pretended to be. In this enlightened day and age, we can have a woman, a cat, a dog, a career or a baby all without the aid of a man and still be pretty happy all on our own too. In the "good old days," before women had the vote and could go out and make their own money, we really did depend a lot on the men. They provided food, shelter, financial aid and support as well as protection. And it was the only way to have babies since artificial insemination wasn't invented yet.
A lot has changed since then and telling girls that they can't truly be happy till they have a man could limit them in their futures and make them settle for someone less than ideal just so they can have the illusion of being happy. As Mic says, "Yes, some studies find marriage to be positively correlated with well-being. But the truth is that happiness is circumstantial and depends mostly on who you're with, not the institution itself." A man is just one slice of the pie.
14 You Can't Be Successful And Happily Married
For those of us who have high power careers, this is a lie we hear a lot, and it can wriggle into our heads and make us doubt ourselves and our marriages. Every day it's being proven wrong, but it still floats around and has strong potential to wreck marriages and relationships. By implying that we can't have our cake and eat it too, it forces us to choose whether we want to be successful at our career or successful at our marriage which is a difficult position to be in—especially considering that a relationship has two people in it who have to both want it to succeed.
If just one of us is doing all the heavy lifting, balance is thrown off and things will inevitably tumble anyways. According to Mic,
"Today, women are racking up about the same 55 hours of work a week as their husbands. Women's achievements don't weaken a marriage. If anything, they bring more to the table."
That sounds like all around good news, especially in this economy. In more ways than one, we modern gals can have our cake and eat it too without a lot of stress or worries in that department.
13 If You Have A Long Dating History, No One Will Marry You
Meant as a threat to encourage women to stay pure till marriage way back in the old days, this lie can still set us up for relationship failure—especially if we believe it (unconsciously or not). It implies that even if we've slept with one or two guys—and our potential mate finds out—then he might sleep with us but definitely will not pop the question. Then how will we get married and be magically happy forever?
The good news, according to Mic...
"The number of [close] partners someone has before marriage has no implication on whether or not they will make a good wife, obviously."
Plus, the trend of being a virgin bride went out of style a long time ago. We kept the white dresses of course because those are traditional and classy now, but we don't need them for their symbolic reason anymore. So, if we do sleep around, let's just think of it as practice and research for finding out what we like and what guys like so we can really wow our man in bed someday. He might be too breathless us to thank us but he will eventually.
12 On The Flipside, Nobody Will Love You If You're Inexperienced
In a complete flip from the above notion, there's its twin which says, "No one will want you if you're so prudish and old-fashioned that you're not willing to get around." It's worded differently in the hopes that we'll fall for it and use this as a legit method of finding our true love.
It can work for some people, but just like shoes and lipstick, it's not for everyone. There are some of us who get hung up on this idea and sleep around hoping to find our long-term mate when all we'd really rather do is go out to dinner and talk about books or work or clothes instead.
We're mocked for our personal standards and often find ourselves discouraged in our patience quest for love. According to Primer Magazine, "On the other hand, the single life isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. No matter how many scaremongering Vanity Fair articles you read, Tinder hasn’t exactly turned us into a generation hooked on casual hook-ups—in fact, there’s some evidence that we’re having even less of it than previous generations." That's at least encouraging for those of us who don't sleep around, right?
11 Getting A Divorce Means Failure
This is an old school idea and it's very dangerous to a lot of modern women. It traps us in our unhealthy relationships that we should've escaped years ago but the fear of failure and how everyone will look at us if we get a divorce stalls us from taking that fateful step toward self-preservation and safety. While many do still view divorce as a bad thing, in reality (even for religious circles) it is a good thing when done for the right reasons and those reasons usually involve the health or safety of one partner at least.
The good news is that after divorce, a lot of people go on to have healthy happy relationships and remarriages to better people. Mic has the stats for us too,
"Just because one marriage ended doesn't mean a woman can't go on to have fulfilling relationships after. Four in 10 marriages involve some sort of remarriage."
This means we can get married and if it doesn't work out, we don't need to stay in an unhealthy relationship simply because we fear failure. And it won't kill our future relationships either. We just need to make sure we have the right mindset when we enter the marriage in the beginning stages.
10 You Have To Be Married To Have Kids
As if finding that perfect guy wasn't hard enough, now we need to throw kids into the mix. Many of us have different situations where we're either set on waiting for marriage for everything to those of us who have been there done that and have a divorce and at least one kid under their belts, but we're still searching for that elusive true love. When is he going to show up already?
Regardless of our situation, if we go into a relationship wanting it solely for the purpose of having children, that automatically sets us up for potential failure somewhere down the line. He's going to feel used, and if we don't get our baby, we're going to feel cheated.
But as Mic puts it, "Today, women on average have their first baby at 26, and about 41% of all U.S. births take place outside of marriage. For those who want to take control of their fertility without waiting for a ring, advances such as egg freezing, not to mention adoption and fostering and IVF, have made the options endless and wholly untethered from marriage." So, if all we want is a baby, we can easily skip the guy and satisfy our baby needs elsewhere.
9 You Need To Have A Mental Checklist Of What You Want In A Man
If we ask a group of single women what they want from a man or a relationship, they'll whip out their mental checklists and start filling us in on their ideal man. Having a guideline to what we like and want is great, but when we take it too far and start rejecting guys and opportunities because they don't fit the list, then we have a little bit of a problem. These expectations then spill over into the relationship, and if they go unchecked, they can ruin a great thing.
According to Thomas Van...
"Expectations drown relationships. Failure to meet expectations has ended a large percentage of relationships. The longer the relationship lasts, the more expectations you’ll have..."
"...Every additional expectation increases the chances your partner will fail to meet them."
One or two reasonable expectations is fine (blue eyes, should want to have kids at some point, etc.) but an ever-growing list of expectations is never a good idea. The hard part is realizing that that is what we're doing with our man. This is why open communications in relationships are important. He might see something that we're unaware of, and we need to be able to discuss these things without getting offended, or all fired up.
8 Don't Live Together Before Marriage
Usually, this is told to us by our grandma as she gives us a stern look and wiggles a pointy finger before popping the cookies into the oven. It's an old-school rule, and it can still set many of us up for failure. A lot of relationships will progress to the "do we live together or not?" stage and one partner (usually us) will say, "Oh, what if we just got married? I'm not comfortable just living together." Whether it's from a fear of disappointing grandma or of what everyone will think of us if we move in together, it can throw a wrench into our relationship.
Living together gives us the benefit of seeing what we're like when date mode is off and if a long-term relationship would actually work. Plus, we save on rent and commute time. As Mic puts it, "Often, cohabiting relationships can endure in the long term, as couples can test the strength of their relationships and benefit from spending quality time at home with their partners." While this will do nothing to pacify grandma, at least we'll have a better idea of who we're marrying if we've lived together for awhile.
7 I Can Change Him Or He'll Change On His Own
Ah, change, it's always there, and no one likes it because it's very uncontrollable and unpredictable. Hey, none of us want to feel like we don’t have control over the fate of our own hearts.
However, this doesn't stop us from believing the idea that we can change our sweetie. If we look at couples who have been married for decades, it can be hard to tell one from the other.
This occurs when they've lived together for so long that they've rubbed off on each other and picked up habits and quirks. This is a natural change. The type we want is purposeful change. We think we can take a guy and mold him into our perfect dreamboat and all this does is frustrate everyone involved.
The flipside is that we're convinced he'll change on his own so we stay when we should really give up on him and get out while we still can. As Huffington Post tells us, "And the truth is it does not feel good. It is exhausting to be in any kind of a romantic relationship—from dating to marriage—wherein you are constantly changing someone. And the reason it is exhausting is because it is not possible. The only person you can change is the one reading these words right now."
6 Turn Off The Lights...No Matter What
One very unconscious thing that sets women up for relationship failure is how we think of ourselves (primarily our bodies) and how connected we are to ourselves. If we're unfamiliar with how our bodies work due to a lack of education or a strict religious upbringing, those anticipated romantic encounters with our sweeties will cause us anxiety because we don't know what to expect.
If we're constantly worried about our weight or how we look with the lights on and being exposed, we project insecure vibes and frustrate our mates who actually love us deeply for every inch and curve that makes us who we are. We make it difficult for him to connect with us if we can't connect with ourselves.
As Huffington Post states, "The more you like yourself, the more others will want to be around you and enjoy your company. Self-acceptance of your body makes it easier to feel relaxed, lighten up, get out to meet new people and try new things. With that level of positive confidence, you will have greater success attracting a new love in your life and keeping the romance and fun in your relationship."
5 You're Too Independent For Men
A newer trap for modern women is that we are now too independent to attract a good man and be happy in our relationships or marriages. This isn't true at all. The freedoms we experience now, as women, were hard won and earned by generations of women before us. A lot of men aren't sure what to do with the new dynamics and think that independent women are intimidating (which is what some of us want them to think).
Other women with conservative views will look at us and think we'll never settle down because who would give up such freedom to submit to a man? And then we have our own insecurities plaguing us as we deal with the same exhaustion that men endure form long work hours and deciding things for ourselves.
But as Huffington Post reassures us...
"You don't have to return to traditional gender roles in order to have an interdependent marriage, where both individuals feel connected and happily do for one another..."
"...When two people love and support one another, being open to giving and receiving, regardless of gender, that is a beautiful partnership." We can be independent, in a relationship and happy too.
4 You Have To Look Good To Find A Man
Looking a certain way applies pressure to all of us in different relationship stages. We have to look good for work, for our family, for that big social event later in the year and especially for that one guy we're hoping is our perfect match made in heaven. We spend tons of money on makeup, hair products, clothes and anti-aging remedies. All we get in return is more pressure to change how we look and guys who whine that they don't like makeup and we should use less of it.
While it can be nice of them to think that we look better without makeup, some of us disagree and think we look awesome with it so those guys should just be quiet. But one way this whole situation trips us up in relationships is that it gives us the idea that we need to look a certain way to get the guy we want and that's never fun. As Psychology Today puts it, "But face it, when you look good on the outside, you feel good on the inside. Should it be the other way around? It can be. Your emotions affect your appearance and attractiveness. Your confidence plays into your ability to influence others."
3 Women Are Better Than Men
This is a tricky notion as it generalizes situations across the board. Women are naturally better at a lot of things than men are (like cooking, dishes, laundry, having babies, etc.) because we're built differently than they are and were raised to do those things. While men are better at other things like cutting down trees, building things and destroying them, losing their socks and thinking logically. They are built for brute strength and logical thinking, and they probably weren't taught how to make their own food or do their own laundry.
If we accept the differences, we're all fine, but if we truly believe we're better than men, then we'll likely never find ourselves in a long happy, healthy relationship.
It puts down any effort the man does without a second thought, and no one wants to feel that way. As The Guardian states, "But here is the rub. Women tend to be better than men at so many things because we have no choice. Yes, we are better at washing up, but only because we do it way more often than men. This state of affairs self-perpetuates our oppression, highlighted by ridiculous scenarios such as restaurants advertising for female washer-uppers because men are rubbish at it."
2 You're Too Submissive/Not Submissive Enough
The traditional relationship dynamic is that the man is the head of the household and he makes all the rules. The woman manages the daily housework and raising the children but submits to her husband's rules in major areas like money. Times have changed, and now we have people, on one hand, saying that we traditional or unassertive gals are too submissive while on the other hand, we have people (usually guys) saying we aren't submissive enough.
The ideal situation is a relationship where we're both equal to each other and discuss everything calmly and clearly without one person making all the rules and decisions. But as James M Sama reminds us, "The truth is, things are not going to be even. Everyone shows their love in different ways. We all have strengths and weaknesses that balance each other out. Different talents and different ways of contributing."
There will be times when we make the decisions because that particular area is our strength and specialty, while he might decide other areas. This balance can be seen in household chores: we decide where to store the dishes and how often the bedroom should be vacuumed while he decides how often the lawn gets mowed and when to check the oil in our car.
1 True Love Is Simple, Once You Know, You Know
We've all grown up with the idea of finding our one true love someday and living happily ever with him. While this is a wonderful idea, it's not real and can hang up a lot of really great relationships for us because we're constantly analyzing whether he's the one for us or not. And by the one, we mean The One. The one man who will rule our hearts with love and never ever hurt us or leave and will always bring us midnight snacks no matter how far he lives.
The type of love we're actually looking for is called unconditional, and it does exist, just not the way we imagine it. As Elite Daily tells us, "True love is love that has what it takes to last the test of time. It’s malleable, adaptive, ever-growing and ever-changing. And it’s incredibly rare because it takes a great deal of time to develop. You have to be with someone for years to know for sure that what you have isn’t just any love, but true love. Ultimately, true love isn’t found, stumbled upon or fallen into; true love is built, slowly and with great care." It takes work, but it's worth it.