Busting Pop Culture Romance Myths with the Portland Marriage Counselor

November 20, 2013 by

My experience as a Portland marriage counselor has taught me that loving relationships are rarely just like the ones we see in movies and TV shows, where high emotions are used to create drama. That’s not to say that real-life romance can’t be exciting—it’s just that you need substance in your relationship to go along with the powerful emotions. This week I hope to offer some relationship help by debunking a few pop culture myths about romantic love.

A Portland Relationship Counselor's 3 Major Romance Myths

Myth #1: Constant fighting leads to love. The volatile, bickering couple is a long-running romantic comedy trope, from the Katherine Hepburn screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby to the tense car ride scene in When Harry Met Sally. These couples seem to be able to find no common ground, until they eventually realize that their heated verbal exchanges are a symptom of their passionate love. However, if you and your partner mainly communicate through arguments—only to passionately make up later—you’re not laying the groundwork for a lasting relationship. The next time you and your partner have an argument, try to keep your voice calm and really listen to what your partner is saying, rather than just throwing out an emotionally damaging putdown.

Myth #2: If your partner loves you enough, they’ll change for you. This idea is popular in teen movies like Grease and 10 Things I Hate About You. One of the romantic leads realizes that they need to dramatically change their ways in order to win over the other lead, and they manage to do this right before the credits roll. In reality, it’s not a good idea to start dating someone with the assumption that they’ll eventually change what you see as their negative qualities. Attempting to change your partner—for example, issuing an ultimatum—will only create resistance and resentment and leads many people to seek relationship help.

Myth #3: Love conquers all. This is probably the most pervasive pop culture myth—the Beatles even said that “all you need is love.” This is the idea that romantic love has some kind of magical quality that allows it to undo any negative things that might be going on in a person’s life, but as a marriage counselor I can tell you that it just isn’t true. This assumption can be damaging because it fails to take into account the multiple dimensions of a person’s life, such as a high stress job or a fight with a family member. The best thing you can do for your partner is be attentive to their needs as a whole person and support them through the bad as well as the good.

I don’t want to seem as if I’m naysaying romantic love – after all, as a marriage counselor in Portland, it’s my business! But I also know that you need more than highly-charged emotions to form the groundwork for a loving, lasting relationship. The best relationship help I can offer is to teach you to see your partner as a complex person, and to really listen and try to understand one another rather than looking to pop culture tropes.