Take It From Us: Relationship Myths We’d Like to Bust

Feature image by The Gender Spectrum Collection.

There are a few things we can all agree help make relationships work — OR ARE THERE??? Maybe it’s more complicated than that. Here are the supposedly ironclad relationship rules that we don’t necessarily agree with!


Bailey, Writer

“Don’t try to be something to everyone. Be everything to someone.”

Don’t do that. Don’t be someone’s everything, don’t try to be someone’s everything. Don’t let someone be or try to be your everything. You will both slowly drain until there is nothing left in either of you. Wanting someone to be your everything can be selfish. You can’t be everything for someone. Be realistic…

You’re not going to be someones partner, friend, parent, colleague, sibling, karaoke buddy, rollercoaster pal or pineapple on pizza date. It’s healthy to find the things you need in multiple corners of your life. I’m sure you’ll live a fulfilling life, where your only support isn’t in one person and if you have a “person,” that person will probably feel a lot healthier and less drained and able to show up for you when you need them too.


Dani Janae, Writer

I hate hate hearing that you have to stay and work things out: you don’t! no matter how old you are you don’t have to stay with someone who you aren’t happy with. We are all gonna die at some point so don’t spend your precious days working on something that is exhausting and heartbreaking. If you wanna leave, leave. They say that if it’s meant to be it will be or some other shit, so there may be a chance to get back together when you’ve both done growth work separately. But don’t count on that, do what you gotta do.


I don’t think you should love anyone unconditionally. I think love should always have conditions. Sure, you can love someone despite certain flaws, and you can love someone’s rough parts, but loving unconditionally is a dangerous thing we’re sold that can sometimes lead to staying in a relationship for too long. Love should be earned constantly. It should not just be a given. It can be renegotiated, and it can evolve.


Malic White, Writer

I don’t dig the “never go to bed mad” adage. Sometimes we need to take time to process so we can communicate with our partners more accurately and honestly, and it might be a better idea to “sleep on it.”


Rachel Lewis, Writer

Arguing is good for you. I don’t think you should get violent or scare each other, but I also think that if you’re too focused on your inside voice and seeming “fine” when you are not fine, you end up just failing yourself and your emotions. My therapist told me to have 1 day dedicated to talking out a problem, and to just let my emotions exist, and that day was more helpful than any other day. It’s about balance (please don’t throw things at each other) but also about being true to yourself, and sometimes you’re just too fucking pissed to bother seeming a “normal” level of anger.


I’m sorry, but I’m not a mind-reader. Nobody is. The idea that you should always anticipate your partner’s needs, moods, and feelings — or else, god forbid, you’re probably not that close to them—is completely ridiculous. Not only that, but expecting your partner to read your mind all the time is a recipe for disaster. Believe me, I used to do that, and all it did was breed resentment. In fact, I think the opposite of this expectation is way healthier: always asking your partner how they feel and what they need, and always giving them the space to communicate with you about it directly.


Reneice Charles, Writer

Some of the best growth in my relationships has come from going to bed angry so that one is definitely trash to me. I also don’t think your partner has to be your best friend? First of all no one could ever, my best friends are amazing, and second I think that’s far too much weight to place on a romantic relationship. I guess that’s my issue with most common relationship rules or advice, it all seems like a lot of telling people not to be their true selves, to accept bad and forgive bad behavior, or to be hyper focused on managing and anticipating their partners feelings over their own. I think that’s also why a lot of people believe they can change their partners which is the worst belief of all.


Shelli Nicole, Writer

YOU NEED TO HAVE SECRETS.

I know as women loving women we love talking and sharing which, yes, I encourage. I don’t think you should have an entire identity that you keep from your partner or that you don’t keep communication open but – Its ok to keep some shit to yourself.

You need things that are your own. Your own money, your own space in the home you share and information that is just for you.

Also WE DON’T NEEED TO LIKE THE EXACT SAME THINGS.

I am not trying to fuck/marry myself. There is a difference between sharing interests and having things in common which, obviously, you need. However, we do not need to be so similar that there are no new things that you can introduce me to.

It’s important for you partner to be able to add to your life in many ways and that happens when you’re different. You try new things, go to places you never would have set foot in and explore parts of yourself that your partners differences bring out in you.

And lastly – I don’t have to like your animals and you don’t have to like mine. We can still be together while I talk shit about your fucking cat.


Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor

“You have to learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else” is bullshit, to be perfectly frank. I’ve struggled with intense self loathing my whole life, and while I can acknowledge that it’s made it harder for me to navigate conflict in some cases, it’s also not stopped me from having very deep, life-changing romantic relationships with people I continue to care about to this day. I find it terribly insulting that I am somehow supposed to be barred from being in a functional relationship because of my mental health, that I don’t deserve someone else’s affection unless I have dealt with my myriad issues. Also listen, some of us aren’t that great! I don’t NEED to love myself. Leave me alone.


Vanessa Friedman, Community Editor

1. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PROCESS EVERYTHING WITH EVERYONE.
2. YOU NEVER HAVE TO MOVE IN WITH YOUR PARTNER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO.
3. SAYING “I LOVE YOU” IS NOT A PROMISE.
4. ANOTHER HUMAN BEING CANNOT PROVIDE YOU CLOSURE.


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25 Comments

  1. Growing up with a rough childhood and getting into my early twenties I used to like to say the quote, “You’re born alone, you die alone.” When talking about traditional cultural values in the US.
    In my later twenties I had the invaluable experiences of working at a nursing home and a middle school (not at the same time). From this I learned that people absolutely need each other, it is messy and hard, and beautiful and amazing.
    There are lots of ways to make our relationships work and there are reasons people pursue making that happen. The best thing you can do for yourself is figure out what works best for you (boundaries) and respect the boundaries of the people who care about you.

  2. Thank you, Stef! This is a pet peeve of mine, too. It’s a ridiculous and stigmatising perspective that in my view would barr most people to a certain degree from forming any kind of romantic relationship with someone else.
    It can go in both directions – through self-love you can learn to love other people and through being loved by others you can learn to love yourself.

  3. I really appreciate seeing so many healthy, self-aware, well-reasoned perspectives expressed here. A lot of these “rules” feel like they’re straight out of the playbook on How To Be a Good Little Hetero Under the Patriarchy, and I love that our community breaks down conventions not just in who we date but how.

    Another one I’ll throw into the ring is the idea that if something doesn’t Last Forever, that means it failed. After my last awful heartbreak I started working on shifting my own perspective about this, and consciously choosing to embrace the idea that experiences can be very worthwhile even if they’re relatively brief. Every connection we make will inevitably come to an end at some point anyway, so we might as well enjoy what we can in the moment and not let ourselves be held back by the fear of loss.

    Here’s a thought experiment: If you met someone and knew right from the outset that you’d only have one week together, but that week would be the most incredible, fulfilling, sensational week of your entire life, and then you’d have to go your separate ways – what would you choose to do? Would you jump in and live that experience? Or would you decide it’s better to avoid the likely emotional downswing afterwards, and live out the rest of your life without that memory? For me, I decided I would always want to make the former choice. Now I always try to approach opportunities this way, as something to explore and delight in, but not attach any particular outcomes to. There is so much more freedom and ease in that, and in my experience it has led to deeper, more genuine, and more varied connections with people.

    • I second that if something doesn’t last forever that doesn’t mean it was shit.
      The night before my wedding I asked my mum about her wedding and she said that her marriage was a failure – but it lasted 6 years and she got my oldest, very brilliant, sister out of it so I was like HOW IS THAT A FAILURE?! I mean, it may have been a failure during those 6 years, I wasn’t there, but the ending of something doesn’t make it a failure in and of itself.

  4. “YOU NEVER HAVE TO MOVE IN WITH YOUR PARTNER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO.”

    God yes. My relationship isn’t less valid because I need to actually be ALONE at times.

    Also, we all need to admit that having your own bed is vastly superior to sharing one. I will not be taking comments on this statement.

    • I am so much happier dating humans who don’t live in my home. throughout college, and a few years following, i moved in with partner after partner and that was just too much, every time. i loveeee having a bedroom that is exclusively my bedroom and having a partner sleep with me overnight is fun and special, as opposed to a constant annoyance. i share a bed with my cat and that is bad enough. plus, who doesn’t want to lay like a starfish?

    • I think loving yourself is based on accepting yourself as you are rather than trying to be a dream picture. (For loving others it’s the same.) So actually accepting that you don’t love yourself is loving yourself. And if we really see things as they are we can only accept them because anyway they are like that even if this is maybe not as we want them to be. And only from there change is possible because what we don’t accept we don’t (want to) see. The pine tree is not like the oak tree but still perfect in its on way.

  5. Also I have a little bit of a different take on the “love yourself first” thing. I agree that the way that message is often expressed is pretty terrible, but I think it’s actually an unfortunately popular but skewed version of what it’s supposed to say. In my experiences as someone who has gone through struggles with mental health and self-image, it’s not that I wasn’t able to love others, it was that I could never fully accept or believe that they loved me for me, instead of some projected ideal of me that I had to work overtime to maintain. When I started to learn how to love myself more, I was more readily able to see how I was worthy of other people’s love.

    • Yeah, it’s all about context. I think that advice shouldn’t be interpreted as ‘you aren’t allowed to date if you have self-loathing’ but rather ‘you deserve love so work on your self loathing because it will inevitably impact your relationships.’ Which it will. It’s just impossible to hate yourself and not have that bleed out in unintended ways. Self-hatred impairs connection even if it doesn’t totally prevent it.

      If I hate myself, I will either reject my girlfriend’s love or expect her to do the heavy lifting of loving me for the both of us. If I hate certain traits in myself, I will have a very, very hard time having compassion for my partner or child’s similar traits. Having been raised by well-intentioned parents with self-loathing issues, I just don’t think anyone can happily neatly compartmentalize these things.

      ‘Deal with your self hatred’ is depressing to hear for people who think there’s no chance of healing self-loathing but I have yet to hear an argument that self-loathing, while a natural, understandable consequence of trauma etc, is something worth protecting and holding onto forever because it improves quality of life. The issue is getting people the resources they need to do the work of learning and practicing self-love. Many people say this phrase to those who can’t afford help and expect them to snap their fingers and heal by themselves, and that itself is very cruel. It’s not the message itself, it’s the delivery etc.

      • Yes, totally agree! The same way that telling someone “you need professional help” might be technically true (because we ALL do), but delivered the wrong way comes across as a judgement and has the exact opposite of the intended effect.

    • Yes. I’ve struggle with self-loathing as a byproduct of mental illness myself, but that’s different from being resigned (or even committing) to the idea I am undeserving of love and good things. Learning to love myself is a process that will probably evolve and need constant study my whole life, but I am actively engaged in the process. I know — I have loved — people who have not reached that point. They were all very different, but the common denominator was that they all eventually thought less of me for loving them.

      • “They eventually thought less of me for loving them” – Yes, I’ve had this experience too. And you’re right, learning to love yourself isn’t a one-off, but a lifetime process that sometimes shows up in different ways under new circumstances. Wishing you the best in your own process <3

    • I think loving yourself is based on accepting yourself as you are rather than trying to be a dream picture. (For loving others it’s the same.) So actually accepting that you don’t love yourself is loving yourself. And if we really see things as they are we can only accept them because anyway they are like that even if this is maybe not as we want them to be. And only from there change is possible because what we don’t accept we don’t (want to) see. The pine tree is not like the oak tree but still perfect in its on way.

    • Yes but I needed to hear somebody validate me the way your statement did! Couldn’t explain why that piece of advice makes me so angry…How to say that I *like* myself fine but have never *loved* myself and don’t really want to. People get so snooty at me about it.

  6. the facebook link I followed to get here promised there would be someone “talk[ing] shit about fucking cat[s]”, I feel lied to and abandoned

    but anyway, fuck I hate my girlfriend’s cats and our relationship only works because she kinda does too.

  7. Yes but I needed to hear somebody validate me the way your statement did! Couldn’t explain why that piece of advice makes me so angry…How to say that I *like* myself fine but have never *loved* myself and don’t really want to. People get so snooty at me about it.

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