Most everyone seems to have their own perspective on relationships. Many of us who turn to our friends and relatives for relationship advice often come away with a plethora of opinions and are more confused. While it can be helpful to counsel others, certain messages can actually be quite destructive. Here are three most common relationship myths that potentially lead us down the wrong path and actually interfere with building and maintaining healthy relationships:

1. Relationships are Hard

Life is hard and relationships require hard work. Nevertheless, the old adage “relationships are hard” can also be used to justify staying in inadequate relationships. During certain stages of a relationship, it can be tricky to identify and communicate your feelings to your partner. Additionally, life events and external circumstances often create difficult obstacles for couples to overcome. While these moments are certainly tough to endure, the sense of being challenged should come and go and ultimately, feel surmountable. If your relationship is a constant uphill battle to feel heard and validated, perhaps you are working too hard to keep an unhealthy relationship afloat.

Conflict is an essential part of relationships and is often a healthy way of fostering connection and better understanding of each other. However, when excessive conflict interferes with your ability to enjoy each other, perhaps your differences are irreconcilable. If you find yourself frustrated with the difficulties in your relationship, couples therapy can be a great way to better understand if your challenges are workable, or if you are ultimately incompatible with your partner.

2. If You Don’t Feel a Passionate Spark at First, it’s Not the Right Person

While some relationships start off with a passionate spark, many do not. In fact, searching for the passionate spark, can sometimes lead you in the wrong direction. Using passion as the metric for the health of a relationship can make it easier to conflate lust with love. We can become addicted to the encompassing delirium of infatuation, which can lead to the toxic rollercoaster of obsession. High highs are often followed by low lows. When that intense fire between you seems to wane, it is easy to start feeling inadequate or fearful that your partner might develop that passion with someone else.

Of course, you should not discredit passion, but try not to overvalue it. A healthier barometer for the strength of a relationship, is an assessment of how the relationship progresses. Ask yourself: Do I find myself more interested in this person over time? Does it feel like we are moving forward in the right direction? Some of the greatest love stories are those that develop slowly and steadily over time. There is no substitute to building a foundation of trust and friendship regardless of whether the relationship began as infatuation.

3. Your Partner Should Complete You

It has long been understood that in order to have a healthy relationship with others, one must first have a healthy relationship with oneself. The notion that another individual can fill our internal voids implies that we are incapable of achieving self actualization on our own. Looking to others to make you feel whole is a rigged game. Truthfully, learning to validate and meet your own needs is an essential first step to finding and attracting the right partner. When you feel whole you look to someone else to complement, rather than complete, you. This is a healthier pattern for an enduring partnership.

A healthy partner is someone who celebrates your identity, enables you to shine brighter, and supports you in your personal journey of self-growth. If you find that you are struggling to feel secure and confident on your own, therapy can be the perfect vehicle to help you do the inner work necessary to improve your relationship with yourself, so that you can build and maintain healthy relationships with others.

These myths can hold powerful control over the way we approach love and dating.

Take the time to challenge these and other pieces of advice. Although our friends and family are trying to be helpful, remember relationships are complex and each one is unique. Instead of relying on adages to inform your behavior, look inward to identify what your individual needs are. Taking the time to better understand yourself (as opposed to listening to others) will help you most clearly identify what kind of relationship is ultimately healthiest and most fulfilling for you to pursue.

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