Eric Williams from YourTango explains why some common pieces of relationship advice are not worth your attention.
Take relationship advice with a grain of salt.
Many people today believe that they are relationship "experts."
But many times, they offer up bad relationship advice that, if followed, could lead to unhealthy relationships, divorce, and heartbreak.
And some, despite not being in a relationship, still believe they can coach you into the "perfect" relationship with your "soul mate" all for the low price of a few minutes (or hours) of your time.
Contrary to conventional thinking, only your partner is the relationship expert who can teach you how to meet their needs.
Although your friends and family, or even that "know-it-all" child of yours, may have your best interest at heart, they are most likely selling you some hand-me-down, passed-around version of relationship advice that starts with something like, "they say you should . . ." while they can never tell you who "they" is.
It may take a village to raise a child, but it should not take a village to shape your relationship.
Most friends and family mean well with their opinions, but sometimes, they can do more harm than good.
There are times it might be better to listen to their advice while not actually using it.
Besides, your relationship should never be dependent upon your "crazy" and single uncle whose dating advice includes rounds of tequila shots and playing 21 questions.
Here are seven pieces of bad relationship advice you need to ignore for your own good, especially if you want and value a long-lasting, healthy relationship.
1. Just wait for your Prince Charming to sweep you off your feet.
Prince Charming sweeping you off your feet is a great notion, but what does this mean? Can you forego college and your career now because you know he's coming? And what are the attributes of this guy? Is he an adventurous guy with a perfectly chiseled body who has nice teeth, a seven-figure income, and every word out of his mouth is about how great you are?
Instead of waiting for perfection, search for compatibility. Know who you are, whose you are, and your purpose in life before you allow anyone to sweep you off your feet.
2. Don't tell your partner everything.
Do you have a secret bank account? Are you friends with an ex? Does your mother have access to your personal finances? Imagine your partner discovering any of this on their own. Remember, half of the truth is a whole lie. Period!
A successful relationship should have no secrets (birthday, anniversary, Christmas, and gift surprises are not what I'm talking about). In fact, transparency should hopefully be a core value of the relationship. Don't withhold any information that violates the trust they may have in you. The more you share, the stronger the relationship becomes.
3. Be prepared to do a lot yourself.
Low expectations plague plenty of relationships. Do you know that person in a relationship who cooks, cleans, bathes the kids, and pays the bills all to make sure it's done "perfectly"? That person suffers from low expectations and will burn out while experiencing bitterness and resentment. Furthermore, they will also complain that their spouse isn't doing anything.
Don't be that partner. Be prepared to work a lot to make the relationship work, but that is different from expecting to do all the domestic work without help. Healthy relationships share the responsibilities. Be assertive and communicate about how you'd like to divide up domestic responsibilities. This is the conversation to have before you decide to live together.
4. "A woman is supposed to . . ." or "Real men . . . "
You can thank society for this. And this is the problem with basing your relationship off the larger society. Defining the functional roles of both of you based on what others say is a recipe for disaster. Just because your mom cooked all of the meals or your dad was the only one to pay the bills doesn't mean you and your partner have to replicate this. Roles are necessary but should never be assumed. Discuss the roles and expectations, and embrace a flexible perspective for the benefit of your relationship.
5. You shouldn't have to tell them what you need; if they love you, they'll know.
Imagine if your partner could read your every thought like Professor Xavier from X-Men. They knew every thought you had about them, their parents, their hot best friend, or that hot coworker you have. It's true, you wouldn't have to tell them how to love you, but would they even want to based on all they know?
Thank God they can't. Don't expect them to read your mind. It is unrealistic to think they will be able to love you the way you need to be loved without giving them minimal coaching. Your needs will evolve over time forever, and your spouse will not know without some guidance. This includes how to specifically read your love language, date-night activities, and sex life.
6. Since your father wasn't around, you will have issues with men.
This isn't necessarily true. In fact, not all fathers in the home provide the best example, either, for various reasons, including mental health issues, underdeveloped parenting strategies, overworking, etc. This statement assumes a few incorrect things:
- Your man will be flawless while you're the only one with flaws.
- Your dad is the only person that can teach you to love (not your faith or your mom or your man).
- You are doomed to being single until you have a better relationship with your father.
Bad relationships are formed because of poor values and unequally yoked spirits. Though a father figure can model what you want to find in a spouse, life experiences and self-actualization are the true teachers.
7. You shouldn't talk about serious topics too early; wait until you're engaged or married.
If you don't talk about serious conversations when you are dating, how can you expect to really know who your spouse will be? You must discuss finances, kids, disciplining children, vacation ideas, will in-laws ever come live with you, etc. I'm not saying discuss these topics during your first date, but if you are considering marriage, you should have a good idea about their views before saying "I do."
In a nutshell, your friends and family love you. They want you to succeed in your relationship. They believe you deserve happiness with a steady partner alongside you. Maintain your relationship with them. Love them, and value their input. But keep in mind that although the advice may sound great and convincing, it did not originate with you all in mind. In other words, instead of receiving advice tailored to you and your partner, you're receiving advice that was designed with someone else in mind. And what worked for them doesn't mean it will work for you. Allow communication with your partner to design the relationship by you two for you two. And may you both enjoy the longevity of a healthy relationship.
Dr. Eric Williams is a love and relationship expert in private practice in Fayetteville, NC. He specializes in counseling couples of all backgrounds empowering them to define their collaborative purpose and vision.
Check out more great stories from YourTango:
- 6 Common Pieces Of Relationship Advice That Are 100% B.S.
- 6 Pieces Of (Surprisingly Popular) Relationship Advice You Need To Stop Following
- If You Believe These 12 Things, You'll Never Have A Happy Relationship