Relationship myths: the biggest lies we’re told about love

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

The biggest lie we’re told about love is that the start of it is actually The End. The trial and strife and struggle of your day-to-day smooths out into plain sailing when you’ve someone beside you. You’ve walked into the sunset, and you live there now. It’s warm and calm, like the end of a summer’s day. Both of you have made it and you’re safe. The other relationship myths I’ve been told pale in comparison to this one: that love is easy, once you’re in it.

Before you find a lover, you’re led to believe there’s one – only one – out there for you. Your ‘soulmate’. ‘The One’. A spirit so kindred that only their heart could ever possibly tesselate with yours. It’s a big lie, sure, but one that’s easily crushed. One or two powerful disappointments with lovers who turned out to be mere mortals, followed by the inevitable recovery from grief: that’s all it takes to show you that love isn’t just a one-shot thing.

Once you’re in love, it’s time to grapple with the shock that it doesn’t feel like those cheesy slogans. “I love you more today than yesterday but less than tomorrow” might better be expressed as “I love you more today than yesterday but less than last Friday when you ate my last Cadbury’s Creme Egg. And I’ll love you a bit more if you remember to put the washing out, and a bit less if you say something mean to me in the heat of a tedious row.”

Your love doesn’t blossom like a rose, gradually opening its petals until it reaches peak bloom. You won’t spend all your time mooning over them like a lovestruck teenager. Some days you’ll want to push them into a puddle. Other days you’ll want to eat the last of their Dairy Milk out of spite, because they left their alarm on for too long in the morning so you woke up grumpy.

But these lies are small compared to others. Like the lie that your love will always be exclusive – you will never be tempted or intrigued by new people. New faces and bodies and jokes and smiles. You can love these, too, and it’s not a betrayal. Unless you can betray someone without intent. Unless we’re all betraying our true loves, all the time.

Perhaps the biggest lie about love is that it’s easy. That once you’re in, you’re in: you’re two halves of the same whole, and the whole works like clockwork. You read each other’s minds, correctly, and you want the same things at the same time.

Love doesn’t turn you into a mindreader, but it sometimes nudges you into becoming a cheap psychic. Guessing and hoping and projecting onto the other person to try and unpick why they did this or that thing that upset you. As if you know the inside of their head better than they ever could, because you love them and that’s what love means.

So you fight. You fight because they don’t do the housework or they forget important events or they just don’t fucking listen to you. And somewhere in your heart there’s this idea that this wouldn’t happen if your love were real. You’d be sitting together in the sunset you walked off into – not sitting at the kitchen table at midnight sobbing bitterly into a glass of wine while they tell you what you’ve done to hurt them.

And even in those fights you’re exposing more relationship myths – and outright lies. You see behind the couples on TV and in films who fight for one day then make up with hot sex. You see just how much scriptwriting genius had to go in to resolving that fight within five minutes on screen. Fictional couples fight rationally: their arguments have a beginning (“you hurt me!”), a middle (“you hurt me too!”) and an end (“I’m so sorry for what I did, I love you.”). In real life these fights can bleed into the next day, and the next. Weeks might go by while one or both of you simmers, nurturing your frustrations because you’ll need them for the next bout. Occasionally you fight so well you forget you’re in love, or forget that the other person is a person too. And sometimes these fights can span decades.

Love is compelling and beautiful when it’s in the ‘fiction’ section, but when you drag it into the non-fiction section of your own life it becomes a more complex thing. It’s not just the sum of your shared joys and passion for each other, it’s your weaknesses and insecurities and irritations too. It’s not beautiful or easy or pink-tinged like the sunset – it can be boring and arduous and irritating and difficult.

Like most relationship myths, the truth is far more interesting than the simple TV version. If falling in love really did signal ‘The End’ then it would mean the end of all the drama that makes life exciting: the end of growth and conflict and those fights where you start off angry but end feeling proud because you’ve understood something new about the way your partner’s brain works. Without this stuff there’s no plot. No challenge. No opportunity to discover the harsher aspects of your lover’s personality, or probe around at the darker bits of your own. You’d miss out on the satisfaction that comes after a long and painful episode, when you realise you’ve collected another piece of the jigsaw puzzle that makes up the inside of their head, or had the precious chance to hold them while they tell you something they’ve never said aloud before.

Love might not be a blissful utopia, but it can be an epic quest. And that makes for a much better story.


  • Online stranger says:

    Reading blog-posts like these are emotional rollercoasters, because whether I like it or not I’ve become rather invested in your relationship and reading titles like “the biggest lies we’re told about love” get me all worried, and then I reach the end of the post and I’m all calmed down again. You’re absolutely right, Love isn’t easy. Hell, pretending it is easy is the biggest lie that everyone tells oneanother, because everyone wants to believe it so much.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Wow, thank you. It’s really touching that you’re invested in my relationship – I got all emotional reading your message. Rest assured that we’re good, we just hit bumps in the road sometimes and the last couple of weeks have been tricky. But then we work out how to talk about them properly and usually we work out what’s what – and I hope that if/when we do break up it’ll be because it’s the right thing for us to do, rather than because sadness/anger has taken over. And you’re totally right: we want to believe it’s easy, which makes it easier to trick ourselves into thinking it will be! <3

  • The One says:

    Gives me hope. Thanks ❤️

  • Chiarodiluna says:

    There are so many times when I have sat and worried, in tears..usually with a large glass of bourbon re-running that argument or the exact moment when the blissful contentment balloon fragmented, reforming into the forgotten love bomb of fear, self loathing, anger and loneliness… this what a relationship or love is supposed to be? Everyone else seems to be walking up the street, holding hands, looking at each other like their faces are brand new and they’ve just felt the love thang..isn’t that love…real relationships?!…
    It is only just very recently I have realised that love day/week/month/year it might be this overwhelming feeling of love, contentment and liking for this human, and it’s wonderful, but there are also days/weeks where you live a life of perfectly contented companionship.. I might not feel like I could absorb him through love alone, or that I want to devour him when we get to bed, and that is okay. I still want to spend the rest of my life hanging out and loving this weird person who amazes and intrigues me every day.

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