No matter who you are, where you live or what you believe, there’s one thing that unites all of us Earthlings: complaining about relationships. Whether you’re in one, looking for one, or have sworn the whole charade off, you’ve probably heard some terrible advice from well-meaning friends.
Here are our least-favorite snippets of relationship wisdom — from outright lies to misleading half-truths.
1. If You Fight, You’re More Passionate
No matter what platitudes you might read on Instagram, frequent fights don’t make your relationship “passionate.” They make your relationship unhealthy.
Let’s make one thing clear first: the occasional fight or argument doesn’t mean your relationship is bad or doomed. Learning to discuss differences kindly and compassionately is key to a successful partnership. But disagreements that escalate to yelling, retaliation, and the silent treatment aren’t healthy.
“But we fight because we love each other!,” you or your partner might say. But frequent arguments aren’t loving — they’re damaging, especially if you have kids. Studies show that children raised by parents who argue are more likely to have depression or other mental health issues. Show love by going to couple’s therapy together and learning to discuss your differences calmly.
2. Happy Wife, Happy life.
Not only is this saying wrong, it’s downright condescending. There’s nothing progressive or feminist about kowtowing to your wife’s every desire because you think she’ll make life hell otherwise. Give the poor woman some credit!
Both members of a relationship should be happy as often as possible. Yes, that often means compromise — sometimes husbands will watch the rom-com and wives go to the baseball game. (Or vice versa, because many husbands love rom-coms and many wives love baseball!)
Nothing builds resentment like frequently ignoring your own desires. Instead, both partners should aim to compromise whenever possible — and learn to deal with things they dislike.
3. Never Go to Bed Angry
This advice is often given with good intentions. Fights can fester overnight. Spending several restless hours furious at your partner is a sure-fire way to kickstart your next day’s bad mood. So if you can resolve an argument before bed — without losing sleep — do so.
But sometimes hashing it out requires several high-strung hours spent arguing and debating. The result: two very cranky, sleep-deprived adults who are more likely to get in another argument. A constant high-tension atmosphere isn’t conducive to a loving relationship.
Perhaps the revised saying should be: “Never go to bed angry — unless you really need to sleep.”
4. You Can Change Your Partner
Everyone has annoying habits. Some are minor — like nail biting or forgetting to wipe down the sink. Some are terrible — like being an abusive jerk. Regardless of whether your partner’s problems are large or small, one thing remains consistent: You can’t change them.
Movies make it look easy: Girl meets boy, boy loves to party and lie, but through the power of love (insert musical cue here), girl transforms boy into a quiet soul who adores knitting and cats. Spoiler alert: this kind of externally motivated change rarely sticks.
If your partner’s flaws are a dealbreaker, that’s okay — but dedicating your life to changing them will only make both of you sad.
5. Have a Baby! Get Married! It Will Fix Everything!
It’s shocking how common this belief is, considering its sheer implausibility. So often, couples struggling in their relationship seek out a Band-Aid, convinced taking “the next step” will unite them as a couple.
You won’t stop fighting once you’re married. Buying a house won’t ground your relationship. And if you’re feeling disconnected, a baby will not magically spark the family feeling. Instead, you’ve added new stressors to an already difficult situation. It’s not a spark — it’s a powder keg.
Make sure your relationship is on solid ground before taking a big leap together. Handling new, stressful responsibilities is easier when your synched up as a team.
6. Jealousy Means They Love You
This platitude is a two-sided coin — because jealousy is an extremely normal emotion, especially in romantic relationships. Even the most noble and good-hearted of our species may feel a spark of jealousy when their partner talks to a good-looking friend.
Feeling envy isn’t bad, per se. What’s bad is when jealousy transforms into control. If your partner treats you like property, that’s not jealousy — that’s possessiveness. Being in a romantic relationship shouldn’t require giving up friendships or letting your partner track your phone’s location.
7. Love is Enough
Love can give us courage. Love helps us face our fears. Love helps us persevere when want to hide.
But love can’t fix everything.
You and your partner love each other deeply. Looking into their eyes makes your knees weak. You’ve been known to frequently swoon. That’s great! But the power of love has limitations. For example, if one of you wants kids and the other is diehard child-free, “loving each other” won’t bridge the divide. If one of you plans to move to Europe and the other refuses to leave small-town Iowa, there’s no love that can reconcile those competing desires.
Breaking up with someone you adore is heart-wrenching. But if staying in your relationship means sacrificing your biggest life goals, it may be the best decision. Love is powerful, but it’s not omnipotent.
8. A Good Relationship Doesn’t Require Work
If only! Unfortunately, some of the greatest relationships require consistent effort. Even when things are going well, partners must focus on reaffirming their love, prioritizing their relationship and spending time together.
And when things are difficult, relationships require even more work. Supporting a partner through an illness or the death of a loved one means putting their needs above your own — sometimes for weeks or months at a time.
Love doesn’t make sacrifices like that easy. Love means you’re willing to do it — even when they’re hard.
Therapy Provides the Best Advice for Healthy Partnerships
There are no relationship shortcuts, but if you’re looking for advice you could do worse that talking to a licensed therapist. They’re able to take an objective view and offer observations and suggestions that can make a profound impact on your understanding of your partner. Remember, if you’re looking for relationship advice, steer clear of the terrible guidance above!