The Top 5 Relationship Misconceptions
Being in a committed, long-term relationship isn't always easy—especially when you feel pressured to live up to a certain ideal of what it means to be a couple.
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Many people have high expectations for their relationship, and this can cause them to feel as though they aren't measuring up, or as though there is something wrong with their partnership. Fortunately, many of these expectations are unfounded—and possibly a result of watching too many romantic comedies.
Here are the top five relationship misconceptions:
1. Everyone else is having more sex than us.
People often assume that everyone around them is indulging in wild sexual activity. The truth is that long-term couples have sex once a week, on average. And, as far as marathon sex sessions go, most couples report that they prefer intercourse to last only 7-13 minutes. If you are unhappy with your current sex life, you shouldn't ignore your feelings, but make sure that your unhappiness doesn't stem from unrealistic comparisons. If you have a friend who is constantly raving about her animalistic sex life, remember to take her words with a grain of salt. Additionally, don't get caught up in comparing your sex life to that of friends or neighbors who are newly dating. Everyone has more plentiful sex when they first get together with their partner, but over time, those feelings decrease... which is probably a good thing, otherwise no one would ever get any work done.
2. Now that I am part of a couple, I need to let go of the "single" me.
People often think that once you become part of a couple, you have to completely ditch the old you. Suddenly, you go from being an "I" to a "We" and you have to run every decision past your partner. While it is nice to be wholly committed to your partner, that doesn't mean you should stop being yourself. You can continue to have your own interests and friendships, even if it means spending some time away from each other. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but more importantly, it also gives you time to explore yourself and develop your own ideas and thoughts. All of this can go a long way in spicing up your relationship, because it will keep interesting and even a little mysterious.
3. I am not allowed to find other people attractive.
People often feel guilty when they find someone other than their partner attractive. While this is a common knee-jerk reaction, the truth is that there is no reason why couples shouldn't notice attractive people. After all, you are still a living, breathing sexual being. However, this doesn't mean you should act on your feelings. Instead, channel those feelings into your own relationship, and make sure that your "crush" stays in your head where it belongs.
4. Our kids have to come first.
That sounds good on paper, but in practice, it means that you and your partner never get the T.L.C. you need to keep your relationship strong. The best gift you can give to your kids is a stable home and a loving relationship to look up to, so make sure that you make time for date night and adult-only occasions.
5. "Doing it all" makes me a good partner.
It's important to be attentive to your partner's needs, but some people take the giving thing a little too far. If you are doing everything for your partner (such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, etc.), you are not only infantilizing him, but you are also turning yourself into a harried, frenzied mess. You can't do it all and you shouldn't try to. Ask your partner for help and tackle errands and responsibilities as a team. After all, that's what being a couple is all about.
Dr. Laura Berman is a world-renowned relationship therapist and the best-selling author of several books, including The Sex Bible and Real Sex for Real Women. You may remember her as the host of In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman on the Oprah Winfrey Network.