The 5 Biggest Misconceptions About Love

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I want to talk more about the, “But I love them” justification that people use all the time to stay in unhappy relationships.

To some, the hope of finding true love is a reason they should keep striving for a relationship with someone who will never provide the kind of loving partnership they want (and deserve).

If you want to have a healthy relationship with a romantic partner, you can't settle for less than you really want.

Unfortunately, love is vastly misunderstood, and we make all kinds of mistakes about how to love and be loved based on our wonky ideas about it.

The truth is, there’s a fundamental difference between having love for someone and being right for someone in a romantic relationship. They’re not the same thing. They’re not even on the same planet.

And yet, mistaken ideas about love and what it means for our relationships are so rampant, it’s unbelievable.

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Here are the five biggest misconceptions about love:

1. Love conquers all.

Loving someone — even if you love them with everything you've got — doesn't mean you're suitable as a romantic partner for them.

You can deeply love someone and they can deeply love you, but your relationship is a disaster. This doesn’t mean “it wasn’t true love,” it just means that, at this time, couplehood isn't going to work for you two.

2. Love is an excuse for acting out.

Sometimes when you fall in love, you get comfortable and feel like you’ve “conquered it” or “won” because the other person loves you back.

You tell yourself that because there’s love there or you have feelings for someone, you can act out, you can cling, and you can generally allow yourself to act in ways that would embarrass you to admit to your friends.

When you let this happen, you allow your shadow self to come out and play. You let yourself go emotionally and stop protecting the other person’s feelings. When they’re hurt, you justify your shabby behavior with how you truly love them and think, “they aren’t going anywhere.”

Then the relationship goes off the rails and you tell yourself it wasn’t meant to be or that it wasn’t true love. The truth is that, behind closed doors, you acted like that person would never leave, and you’re sent reeling when they call your bluff.

Just because someone loves you, doesn't mean they have to put up with you treating them badly (and vice versa).

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3. Love implies pain.

One big problem is the belief that once you fall in love, you have to overcome obstacles to “make it work.” This is heavily shown in Hollywood’s version of true love since, without conflict or romantic tension, there isn’t much of a movie to watch.

As a result, people manifest all kinds of terrible situations to support the mistaken belief that they need to strive, work, and overcome to have a good relationship.

Loving someone doesn’t require that you strive and contort yourself in an attempt to “make it work.” Love is an emotion. Relationships often do require work, but it’s usually more of the staying present, communicating, and working on one’s issues variety.

Not the convince someone you really do love them type so commonly shown in the movies.

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4. You're obligated by someone else's love for you.

The fact that you two love each other (or they love you) doesn’t automatically mean that this relationship is right for you or that you're obligated to stick around. If the relationship is wrong for one person, it’s wrong for both people.

The fact that you’re going to hurt someone if you leave them cannot — and should not — make you stay if the relationship is wrong for you. Guilt is a powerful emotion that will snuff out your happiness if you let it.

5. Love is scarce and rare.

Love is all around if you choose to look for it. So are people with whom you could have a great relationship. It takes digging, but it’s doable.

If you adopt the belief that you can’t go out and find love with someone else, you’ll cling to bad relationships and make decisions based on them. Fear-based decisions aren’t rooted in the greater good.

Your mistaken view of the world has contorted them. And when it comes to romantic love, the results will keep you stuck and mired in what you hope a relationship is, rather than what it is.

Your fears lie to you. Fear tells you that you might never find anyone else and that if you let go, you might never find happiness again. This is simply not true. It’s your fear trying to protect you from taking a leap into the unknown.

Don't let fear control your love life.

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Elizabeth Stone is an author and relationship coach whose work has been featured on Popsugar, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, Ravishly, Zoosk, Tiny Buddha, and more.