There are a lot of relationship myths out there.
“It shouldn’t be hard!”
“Once you’ve been married for ten years, you’re guaranteed to stay together forever”.
“If you never fight, your relationship is great”.
“You need to do everything together”
Some are easier to believe than others, but there’s one that always sticks in my head as being the most ridiculous: being in a relationship means you can stop shaving your legs.
Okay so let’s back up for a second.
Yes, I understand that not everyone who enters a relationship (regardless of gender) wants to shave their legs – ever. You can actually insert a couple things in there instead like stop wearing make-up or dressing up, no longer caring about how much weight you gain, or generally not maintaining your appearance or hygiene as much as you did when you were single.
Don’t lie, you’ve heard someone say some version of this. At some point, you might have also believed it.
If by some chance you still do, I’m here to change your mind.
The general idea is that when you get into a committed relationship, you don’t have to try as hard. There’s no one to impress anymore! Someone has been caught in your web, and there’s no escaping it now. You’re done. If there was a level 9 effort when you were dating, it’s now a level 3, and that’s thrilling.
I get it. Dating is exhausting. You’re always trying to put your best foot forward and you have to be “on”. When there’s an established level of comfort and closeness in a relationship, you can more easily be your authentic self, and maybe your authentic self likes to avoid a razor or “forget” to shower for three days. Hey, you do you!
But the idea that we need to try less once we have found a long term partner? That message needs to stop.
If you think about it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why would I put more effort in, with anything, for someone I barely know? They may end up being a footnote in my life story. Perhaps I won’t even remember their name in a month. This person gets my maximum level of energy? Nah.
It, at least to me, makes much more sense to put in all the work for someone who has seen you through some hard times, a lot of laughs, and has repeatedly shown up when you need them.
We do this with other people – not just romantic partners.
I have a question and you have to answer it honestly. Ready?
It’s Monday and you made plans with a friend for dinner. You didn’t sleep well last night and your work day was intense. You’re physically able to get yourself to the restaurant and sit through a meal, but you’d much rather eat take-out on the couch in your pajamas. Who are you more likely to cancel on?
A. The friend you’ve known for years who is basically like family to you
B. The friend you just met a couple of weeks ago and are still getting to know
Most people are saying A, under the impression that your close friend will understand. That relationship is solid. They know you, they love you, and it’s fine.
But is that really the way it should be?
We all have limited time and energy. Given that, shouldn’t we devote what we do have to the people who matter the most? Why are we so focused on the people who, as cool as they may be, aren’t nearly as important to us? What makes us think they should be the first ones to fall by the way side when things get busy?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to impress people. We all would prefer if the people we encounter like us. If that’s in jeopardy, we try to protect it. That’s why you put on more cologne, eye liner, or glitter hair gel for someone who doesn’t have a solid opinion on how great you are. It’s why you’re cool with canceling on your oldest friend, but would think twice before you do so with a new one unless you absolutely to do so.
To some extent, that’s okay. It’s in our nature. But when we go too far in thinking of “our people” as those who will always be there when we’re ready, we risk losing some necessary people in our lives.You can’t always put your closest friend or long term partner on the back burner, because eventually, they won’t understand anymore.
If you had to make a list of the people you just can’t live without, who’s at the top of your list? Who are the people you could call at 3am and you know they’d pick up?
Those people are shiny, expensive, golden, and covered with diamonds. They might feel reliable, stable, and like they’ll never leave. That’s an amazing feeling. You’re right, they probably won’t! But for those people, make sure you’re trying more rather than less. They’re the ones that matter the most and deserve your maximum effort – not “what’s his name?”.
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