Lies on Love
August 25, 2021
It’s easy to toss around relationship slogans, but what are the implications of these simplistic principles? Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Fiona Woo picks apart some commonly-held beliefs.
As a serial monogamist, I’ve been in a fair number of serious and committed relationships. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of relationship advice floating through social media that I have to say I fervently disagree with. The bulk of it feels like it’s coming from hurt, pain, and fear instead of truth, love and faith. Here are some of the things I hear and what I believe is true and untrue about each claim from my perspective:
- If he wanted to, he would.
I love this one. It makes me laugh. Think about all the times you’ve wanted to do something and didn’t. Everybody is wired differently and we have our own ways of reacting to situations. Just because you would do or act a certain way in a situation, does not mean other people would do or should do the same. Ultimately, things are rarely this black and white, especially in terms of romantic relationships. It is important to look from different perspectives:
- Do their words match their actions?
- Do they make you feel safe, or do they withdraw emotionally when things are difficult?
- Are they putting in effort in ways that you wouldn’t but still show obvious signs of care?
- Does your expectation of effort match the effort you put in and the stage of relationship you’re in?
Have the courage to get yourself out of clearly harmful or dishonest relationships, but have the grace to give your partner the benefit of the doubt when they’ve messed up and you know their intentions are pure.
- If you don’t accept me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.
If you take this at face value, you should be able to be a jerk and the other person just has to take it, right? Wrong. It would be lovely if we could love unconditionally, but healthy relationships require boundaries. Obviously everybody has good and bad days, and it is unacceptable to only be kind to your partner when they are happy and pleasant. However, if you think it is your partner’s responsibility to simply accept and love all of your flaws and negative traits, you are mistaken about what love requires. Love is supportive and caring, but it is also honest, and it is not blind. It is our responsibility as mature adults to try to be better and give our partner a pleasant human being to live with. Creating a healthy relationship comes with responsibilities. If you do not want to take on these responsibilities, don’t attach your life to another. In the same way that it is a parent’s responsibility to be pleasant and try to do their best for their children, you have that same responsibility as someone’s partner. At the altar, you are vowing to and promising someone a life that would be better with you than without you. If not, why would people take on the stresses and difficulties of being in a relationship? We must have grace for each other’s downfalls, but also work to give the best version of ourselves to those we love most. Give and take, that’s what it’s about.
- You deserve better.
I see people use this as an excuse not to put the necessary effort required for relationships or to defer responsibility from themselves onto the other. I laugh to myself when people say this and I think in my head, “But do you, really?” It is fully possible that you actually do deserve better, but I guess I just want to play devil’s advocate and put the responsibility back onto you. Only when you take responsibility for your part in the situation do you have the power to change or fix the problem. Resist the urge to see relationships from a perspective of who’s better or worse. If they don’t meet your needs, then leave. Relationships are about compatibility. I think that the less we see others as evil, and more as simply human and imperfect, the better our relationships with others can be. Yes this is a very naïve and innocent way of seeing the world, but it’s how I choose to see people. Yes I’ve been burned by this thinking before, but I still think it’s better than the alternative of being cold, untrusting and bitter.
- All men are trash
This is just a downright dangerous thing to believe. One, all men are not trash, there are plenty of quality men in the world. Two, it’s not like women are much better. There are inherent differences to the ways women and men are wired, and this causes many problems in relationships. Growing up with many close male and female friendships, I can tell you, they are fundamentally different. Men are straight forward, they generally mean what they say and act in accordance to whatever feels right in the moment. Women are convoluted, they craft their messages carefully and act in alliance to what will help them get what they want long term. Herein lies the problem: we communicate and act in different ways. Hanlon’s razor is a principle that says, “Never attribute malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”. Men want to make their partners happy just as much as women do, and they fail at it just as much as women do. When you look at every man with disgust you will probably get what you are looking for. You must give trust to receive it. Give people the benefit of the doubt, and then if they betray that trust, walk away. Relationships don’t need to be a big game.
- If he really loved me, then X, Y and Z . . .
This is just a general observation of people’s attachment to what love has to look like or mean. I believe two things:
- True love is without attachment or expectation.
- Relationships are about more than just love.
If you believe that relationships work if there’s enough love and don’t if there’s not, your ideas about relationships may be too romanticized. Love is about having care for another regardless of the situation, but having a relationship is about building a life together. Somebody can genuinely love you and still prioritize themselves over you. Selfishness is a natural and necessary aspect of human evolution. The best way to love your partner is with a sense of detachment that allows both of you space to thrive as individuals. On the other hand, if you value partnership, you will have to embrace a level of sacrifice to do things for the benefit of your partnership that may or may not be immediately beneficial to you. Healthy relationships are a balance between the desire to be loved and the desire to give love. The partner who can achieve an ideal balance with you is the relationship worth fighting for.
Are there any common relationship notions out there that grind your gears? Vent a little in our comments section, or on any of our social media platforms – that’s what the internet is all about!
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