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Five Myths and Realities of a "Good Relationship"
By Jennifer Sober   View more articles by this author
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September 29

For many of us, an important goal in our lives is to get into a good relationship with a person we really care about.  It is not always clear however, what makes a relationship “good.”  There is a lot of information and misinformation floating around about relationships. Here are five common relationship myths and the realities behind them.

Myth 1: There is little or no fighting in a good relationship.

The reality:  Research supports the idea that it is not the amount of conflict, but how the conflict is handled that is most important to relationship health.  There are couples who are passionate in their fighting, but are just as passionate in their making up.  And there are some couples who never fight, but end up separating due to built up resentments that never got worked out.  Conflict that is consistently handled badly, however, can certainly tear down a relationship.  So it is important to practice “fair fighting” which involves: truly listening, being respectful, keeping it focused on one issue at a time, and knowing when to take a break.
Myth 2:  If you are in a good relationship, you should want to spend all your time with the other person.

The reality:  People have different needs for balancing their couple time with their independent time.  Some people do want to spend all of their time with their partner.  Other people need to have some time to pursue their individual interests.  If two people have similar levels of wanting alone time versus together time, the relationship feels stable to both.  The problem comes when one person wants more time together and the other person wants more individual time.  Neither is right or wrong, but some serious negotiations will need to take place that respect both partners’ positions.

Myth 3:  It is essential that your relationship partner has many of the same interests as you if you want a long term relationship.

The reality: It may make it easier to spend time together if your partner has the same interests as you, but it is not essential for a good relationship.  The key to making differences in interests work is a degree of acceptance and negotiation.  In a healthy relationship, each partner learns about and supports the other’s interests, but one person does not have to take on the interests of the other. 

Myth 4:  Jealousy is a sign of how much your partner cares for you.

The reality:  Jealousy is usually related more to the person’s insecurities in the relationship instead of the person’s level of caring.  Sometimes a person cheating on his or her partner is also the one who is most jealous.  Jealousy is a natural emotion that involves feeling threatened by the loss of something you value.  The threat may be real or it may be imagined.  Although jealousy as an emotion is not good or bad, some behaviors around jealousy such as controlling behavior and physical abuse are not part of a healthy relationship.    

Myth 5:  A good relationship will take care of itself.

The reality:  All relationships require maintenance.  Important relationship maintenance may include: keeping the relationship a priority in your life by making time for it, continuing to get to know the other person, treating the other person with respect and affection, and considering the other person’s wants and needs on a regular basis. 
The overall truth is that a good relationship is one in which both people involved are satisfied and getting their needs met.  Your relationship doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. Ultimately, you and your partner will be the best judges of whether you are in a good relationship or not. 

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