What a truly healthy relationship can be subjective—some people invest heavily in the conventional trajectory of courting, getting engaged, trying the knot, and having children, while others find those so-called societal norms don’t necessarily suit their lives. Whatever the case, there are certain ideologies that all happy couples share—regardless of how they approach life’s Big Stuff—such as mutual respect, a sense of fun, and shared values.
However, there are also plenty of false notions about what makes a healthy relationship that aren’t even remotely true—and can create unrealistic expectations. Here, we’ve broken down 7 healthy relationship myths that need to be busted, stat.
Myth #1: People in a healthy relationship never fight.
False! Everyone in happy relationships find themselves embroiled in spats now and again, which is normal and healthy because it means you’re speaking up, voicing your opinion, and trying to resolve things that irk you. However, if you find yourself in daily screaming matches or knee-deep in jealousy, accusations, or negativity, it may be time to reassess your seemingly healthy relationship.
A good means of measurement? Research has shown that for every argument or unpleasant confrontation, you should experience four to five feel-good encounters.
Myth #2: People in a healthy relationship have to share tons of interests.
While it’s fantastic to share some interests, most healthy relationships flourish when each party has things to enjoy that their partner might not. Not only does this provide necessary time apart, but it also opens the door for each of you to potentially teach the other about things you’re into. If you’re feeling like you and your partner really don’t share any commonalities, try choosing one thing to unequivocally do together—a cooking class, weekly trips to a museum, bike riding on Sundays, etc.
MORE: 101 Amazing Love Quotes
Myth #3: People in a healthy relationship have sex constantly (and it’s always amazing!)
Laughing yet? This myth can definitely be busted, as most people in healthy relationships aren’t jumping into bed every single chance they get. In fact, the frequency of sex should be less of a concern than the quality. Of course, if you’re really not happy about the way things are going in the bedroom, talk about it—people in healthy relationships aren’t mind-readers, either.
Myth #4: People in a healthy relationship have to adore each other’s families and friends.
Nope, but people in solid relationships do treat certain friends or family members they may not love with respect. Nobody said you have to adore your boyfriend’s cousins, but that doesn’t give you a pass to be nasty, bratty, bitchy, or snarky when you’re with them.
If something legitimately bothers you about someone (his mom making cracks about your weight/your job/your hair, or his friends always ignoring you), talk openly to your partner about the problem, instead of turning on the chill factor whenever the person in question comes around.
Myth #5: People in a healthy relationship have to follow a typical life trajectory.
We all know that, typically, the pattern goes: dating, moving in, getting engaged, getting married, having a kid, buying a home, having another kid, and so on. While that’s obviously wonderful, not every happy couple follows that life path. In fact, if portions of that trajectory don’t suit you, your only going to be miserable in the long run. The trick is to agree with your partner on what works for both of you, and work from there.
Myth #6: People in a healthy relationship have to love living together all the time.
If you do decide to live together, that doesn’t quite mean it’s all sunshine and roses 24/7. For folks who live in cities, cohabitation can be cost-effective, but also slightly claustrophobic at times. Compromises must be made, space must be shared, and responsibilities must be attended to. It’s definitely an adjustment that’s often worth it, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never miss being able to throw your stuff wherever you want, blast your music as late as you choose, or buy a bright pink couch because you—and only you—love it.
Myth #7: People in a healthy relationship never have to work at it.
This is probably the biggest myth of all, as a good relationship takes a lot of work, even if you get along on the day-to-day. When we say work, however, we’re talking about compromising, being less stubborn, and working on things you know you need to change. We’re not talking about changing who you are completely for another person, constantly apologizing for yourself, or putting up with abundant jealousy, anger, or negativity.
The trick is figiring out what, ultimately, will make you better as an indiviual and as a couple, as you obviously don’t want to work on something that makes you miserable way more often then it makes you happy.