Pop culture films and Disney cartoons teach us from infancy that love and romance are supposed to look something like a fictional fairytale. Recently, I have found myself in several conversations which included topics around defining ‘love’ and what characteristics we value in relationships, or which characteristics we do not.
For those that know me, or for those that do not know me but have read some of my past blogs, you can see that I am an analytical person. I find comfort in logic, and when something does not make sense then I will mull it over until something logical presents itself to me. I do not think that it is presumptuous to write that somewhere along the line our culture has become mesmerised by pumpkins turning into carriages, and gone blind to the notion that these stories are in actuality fiction and a kiss cannot in actuality turn a frog into a human being. If you are in agreement that love and relationships should resemble a fairytale brought to life, then you are probably apart of (or will add to) the statistical nightmare that is the divorce rate of 50 percent, and I encourage you to read on.
So, to all of the hopeless romantics from a hopeful realist, here are a few notions that surround love and relationships that I find have been misconstrued by pop culture:
A relationship will not make you happy. I have written this in a previous article and I will probably repeat it a million times over: happiness is not a destination, happiness is a mood. More times than not, pop culture has led us to believe that being in a relationship will bring you ever-lasting happiness. But contrary to this belief, happiness is not a destination and a relationship is not a missing piece to collect in a game of life. It is an unfair expectation to rely on another person to be your source of happiness, and it will create an unhealthy dependency on them. A more accurate narrative around this idea would be that relationships are a place for you to share your happiness with another person, instead of it being your happiness. Before you can be happy with somebody else, you must be able to be happy by yourself.
Being in a relationship does not mean you should become your partner’s top priority. I do not want to be your #1 priority in life, nor will you be mine. Pop culture and societal values tend to paint the person that prioritises their passion, work, or goals over their significant other as narcissistic and self-centred. However, is it not selfish to expect somebody to prioritise you over their passions and goals? I think this idea gets misconstrued when a relationship stops being seen as a supplement adding to your life, and takes on the role and identity of being your entire life. If the love is conditional upon sacrificing what fulfils you and ultimately changes who you are in order to prioritise your partner, then it seems that it is not love but more so in the realm of emotional manipulation. Though it is important to note that there is a difference between making sacrifices to accommodate the good of your partner and making compromises for the good of the relationship. We must be able to fulfil ourselves before we can fulfil our relationships, or there will be resentment fulfilling both down the road.
You can live and love interdependently without being functionally dependent. I am me and you are you and a relationship does not equate to we. By this I mean, each person has their own recognisable life and identity. Because a relationship is built from two individual people it is functionally important to maintain these independences. S/o to the couples that share a social media account and post joint statements: ‘Congrats on the birth of baby Caroline! We think she is a beauty!’ We do not think baby Caroline is a beauty, me thinks baby Caroline looks just as alien-like as every other baby. Furthermore, if you lose sight of who you were before the relationship, then you run the risk of resentment because you are no longer the same people that made the initial commitment to each other. Lastly, the ability to love vastly (or to carry on with your daily tasks) is not made any less so, if you do not get a continuous stream of menial text messages when the other person ate lunch or took a fucking breath without letting you know.