Alright, gather ’round, folks! We’re diving headfirst into the ocean of terrible advice that’s polluted the realm of relationships. Brace yourselves, because we’re about to uncover the cringe-worthy, eye-roll-inducing, and downright disastrous tips that have been masquerading as relationship gold. So, if you’re ready to explore a treasure trove of guidance that’s more like fool’s gold, buckle up and get ready for a rollercoaster ride through the worst relationship advice ever served on a platter!
- Make him/her jealous and think you don’t care – Wrong. By making him/her jealous or thinking you don’t care will only create an anxious relationship. The partner will be in a more fearful position and your walls will only cause the relationship to spiral out of control. The more you keep yourself from expressing your true emotions, the more distance and conflict are created. Be you. If you care, show it. Don’t play games to get reassurance. It will only create a bad pattern that will cause the relationship to engulf in flames.
- Fighting in a relationship means it won’t work – Wrong. All relationships have conflict. John Gottman states that 2/3 of conflict is unresolvable in relationships. Fighting is normal. Couples that figure out how to navigate through conflict and recover is what matters in long-term relationships. However, relationships that become physically, sexually, verbally, or financially abusive are not going to work out and the issues must get addressed quickly.
- Lie about your age (or the number of sex partners)– Wrong. No relationship should start off with a lie. The foundation to a healthy and successful relationship is security; both people need to know they can be vulnerable, open, and honest without losing the bond. We all need to be loved and cared about no matter what age or how many people we have slept with. Our past is our past and there should be no shame to it.
- Stop Searching for love. It will come when you aren’t looking for it – Wrong. Mr. Right won’t show up in your living room when you have your pj’s on and watching Netflix. He (or she) might be an UberEats driver dropping off your carb-loaded meal and see you with no makeup on, but that first impression of the 30-second food transaction most likely won’t land a date for most people. You must put yourself out there to be found. Be social. Get involved in a hiking group or a rock climbing group to meet others who have the same interests as you.
- Once a cheater, always a cheater – Wrong again. Simply because someone was unfaithful in the past doesn’t necessarily mean they will cheat again. Situations happen and you may not know the entire story. People can change and learn from their past.
- If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be – Wrong. Attachment security is the issue at hand. If you are anxiously attached, you might cling on for dear life searching for security. This will only cause someone to pull away. Their pulling away can also create a sense of fear in the attachment, thus causing people to cling on. Basically, you can’t force someone to stay with you, but knowing someone will leave only makes the security in the relationship worse. If we give the sense that we don’t care to lose the relationship, it can send a message that the partner doesn’t matter to us, that we can do without. Wrong message to send. Also, once a relationship has a breakup, the loss can impact the bond tremendously and cause injury. We can’t wait for someone to choose to love us. Both people need to be committed to the relationship and have vulnerable conversations that give a sense of security and reassurance to both parties preventing withdrawals and clinging behaviors. It takes two to tango and it will take two to make the relationship secure – without leaving and letting someone go.
- It is your fault he/she did [Enter bad behavior]. – Wrong. You are not responsible for anyone else’s poor choices and bad behaviors. No matter how upsetting the situation is, it is the other person’s responsibility on how they handle the conflict.
- Just don’t talk to him/her for a couple of days, they’ll get the picture. – Wrong. Even when partners can be unresponsive it can be really helpful to let them know what has upset you, and give your partner time to process and respond. Asking for what you need is important, then you know that you have done all you can in the situation.
- If the relationship doesn’t work, it’s because someone is wrong/bad. – Wrong. Two wonderful people, who genuinely love and care about each other, may still not have a romantic relationship between them work out. It doesn’t mean either party is “wrong” or “bad,” just that they don’t fit together in this way.
- Don’t air your dirty laundry. – Of course, no one wants their partner to run and spill all of the little hiccups in their relationship to all of their coworkers, baristas, Uber drivers, etc., but never underestimate how helpful an outside perspective on an issue can be. While still being considerate of your partner’s feelings, don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist for perspective on your situation. You’d be amazed at how common many things that seem overwhelming and frightening actually are, and what great help is available out there. Don’t be afraid to give your relationship all of the tools it can get.
- Bringing up past issues will only make things worse. False! Many couples experience “attachment injuries” that get in the way of connection. It is important to resolve these past hurts in order to move forward in a relationship. – Carly
- Compromise is the key to any good relationship. Although compromise is a great skill to have, it isn’t the most important piece of a relationship. Many couples find themselves fighting about chores, sex, money, and other day-to-day issues without ever understanding what’s happening underneath the surface. Relationships are not about bargains and agreements (e.g., “if I do the dishes, you have to do the laundry”). Rather, they are about creating a secure connection so you can have those tough conversations in an emotionally safe and productive way that actually fosters more connection.
- You should break up in order to “figure yourself out.” Wrong. The truth is, we are created through our attachments and connections to others, and research has supported that our brains are shaped through our relationships. Our relationships can actually help us to grow and become the people we want to be. Research has even shown that individual trauma therapy works even better when done with the support of a loving partner. In secure relationships, partners can feel free to roam and explore and be themselves and come back to the safety of a secure base. You can become the person you want to be within a relationship, you don’t have to be single in order to do it.
- Never go to bed angry: Staying up all night fighting and hoping for a resolution amidst the escalation is not going to help you here, because as the argument escalates it will make it harder and harder to get anywhere. This is because when our heart rate goes above 100 beats per minute, adrenaline can kick in and make truly listening almost impossible. Taking a negotiated break- making sure you partner knows that you are going to talk about it when you wake up, or at a decided time the next day- can lower your heart rate and get you both to a place where you can hear each other and calmly discuss your problem. Of course everyone wants to feel happy and peaceful when they are falling asleep, but staying up all night fighting is not a realistic solution. Give yourself permission to get some sleep instead and have revisit the discussion in the morning.
- Find your soulmate: This belief can be toxic because it sets people up for unrealistic expectations in a relationship. Looking for your ‘soulmate’ can leave folks searching for that one perfect person, and when the person does one thing ‘wrong,’ it’s used as evidence for why they aren’t their soulmate. This belief can also set up the expectation for “mind-reading,” where one partner expects the other to “just know” what they need and want without communicating their needs and wants, just because they are together (have you ever heard someone say, “you should have just known!”)? The truth is no one is perfect. Everyone can make mistakes and have off days, and every couple gets into arguments. This doesn’t mean that your relationship is destined to fail.
- Being in love is all passion. When there’s no passion, you should move on. While passion in a relationship is great, and the beginnings are especially intertwined by that heat-racing feeling, that’s not the only important component. You want to feel connected, supported, and safe – not just like your heart is always racing. Movies and books tend to depict the “great loves” as “I can’t keep my hands off you,” “I’ll do anything for you,” “you are my entire world.” Being in a relationship, you can’t be all passion, all the time. That would be exhausting.
- Your partner should complete you. You are complete. It’s great to have a partner who supports you and you connect with, but you are not incomplete.
Ultimately, each person is unique so every relationship will be too. If someone’s “advice” is making you question something or feel bad about your relationship – take their advice with a grain of salt. Just because Bobby and Susan have been married 30 years doesn’t mean what works for them will work for you.