Five Common — But False! — Relationship Myths

Too many people go through their lives deeply committed to false ideas about relationships. And too many people are held back because they adhere to these myths. Harboring unfounded ideas about what does and doesn’t constitute a good relationship can keep you emotionally distanced from others, damage your friendships and marriage, and leave you feeling alone in the world.

How did you get your false beliefs? Probably from your childhood. Did your family avoid talking about important things? Squelch emotions? Fail to notice what you were feeling? All of these are signs of an emotionally neglectful family. Childhood Emotional Neglect imparts all the wrong messages to a child about how to navigate relationships.

These five common relationships myths reflect what many may have learned in their childhood home, and if they did, what needs to change to alter their false beliefs.

Myth 1: It’s best not to fight if you want to have a good relationship. 

The hallmark of a strong, healthy relationship or friendship is the ability to clash, get upset or angry, and work through it together. In fact, working through disagreements is a sign of closeness.

What needs to change

Don’t be afraid to stand up for your beliefs or to challenge the people you’re close to if you disagree with something they say or do. You don’t have to be confrontational, but people will respect you more and you’ll add quality to your relationship if you show that you stand by your feelings, beliefs and values.

Myth 2: Showing your feelings makes you look weak.

Letting people see your feelings is a way of letting them see your true self. This is powerful and connecting. They will see you as stronger, not weaker. Letting another person know about an emotional hardship doesn’t put you at a disadvantage unless the other person is the type to take advantage of someone’s suffering.

What needs to change

Be aware of who you’re letting in before opening your heart to either a friend or lover. Then take a chance and let him or her see what you’re feeling. It will build compassion and understanding between you. You’ll find that they will respect and care for you even more.

Myth 3: Sharing your feelings or troubles with another person burdens them and pushes them away.

Confiding your feelings or troubles to the right person at the right time doesn’t burden them or push them away. Actually, it does the opposite. It increases warmth and caring from the other person, and pulls the person closer to you.

What needs to change

Choose your moment, taking into account the other person’s mood, needs and situation. Timing is everything. The same message can have a very different impact given at the wrong time versus the right time.

Myth 4: Only actions, not talking, will solve problems.

Talking about a problem with a well-chosen person can help you get perspective, feel less burdened, sort out your feelings and thoughts, and sometimes even provide solutions.

What needs to change

When a problem arises, make a point of sharing your perspective with someone you trust and know will offer sensible advice. Tell your friend about your work worries instead of keeping them to yourself; ask your husband if he agrees with a friend’s criticism.

Myth 5: If you let other people see how you feel, they could use it against you. 

If you let someone see how you feel, that person will know and understand you better, and that’s a good thing. The only exception to this is if someone is actively trying to hurt you. Generally, if you have people like this in your life, you know who they are. Don’t share with them.

What needs to change

There is no intimacy without vulnerability. To open up about your feelings, you’ll have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Take a chance, and see what happens. You may find that your relationships thrive, and a whole new world opens up to you.

To learn more about Emotional Neglect, how it happens, and how it affects relationships, visit EmotionalNeglect.com and take the Emotional Neglect Questionnaire.

Written by Jonice Webb, Ph.D. 

Dr. Jonice Webb has a PhD in clinical psychology, and has been licensed to practice since 1991. Dr. Webb is the author of the book Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect. She has been interviewed about the topic of her book on NPR and numerous podcasts and radio shows across the United States and Canada, and has had multiple articles published in U.S. and international magazines. She writes weekly on the Childhood Emotional Neglect Page on PsychCentral.com. Dr. Webb created the first and only online treatment program for Childhood Emotional Neglect. She runs her psychotherapy practice in the Boston area, where she lives with her husband and two children. Learn more at EmotionalNeglect.com.

Photo Credit: Stanley Dai/Unsplash

139 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S2 years ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Leong S
Leong S2 years ago

thanks you

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Nang Hai C
Nang Hai C2 years ago

Thank you.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jennifer F
Jennifer F2 years ago

Agree with some of this but others are just common sense or understanding between two people.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Philippa Powers
Philippa Powers2 years ago

Interesting. Thanks.

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tanzy t.
tanzy t2 years ago

interesting

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Eric Lees
Eric Lees2 years ago

Thanks

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