Arguing is romantic, sacrificing everything is normal and the first one is the only one are just a few of the lies you’ve been peddled
When you’re a kid it’s easy to watch a few films and think to yourself, “right, that’s what love’s like then. I get it.’ But, as you get older you’ll look back at those old DVDs and see them for the liars that they are. Love is not how it looks in the movies. Here are some of the lies you’ve been told, debunked.
IT’S ROMANTIC TO HAVE VIOLENT, SCREAMING FIGHTS
I personally hate fighting. I much prefer sitting by a pool eating an entire loaf of freshly baked bread whilst reading a leaflet about dolphins. My ideal relationship would involve more of the same, except two loaves of bread and maybe a second pamphlet, about ocelots or sea slugs. To be honest the contents of the pamphlet aren’t what’s important. What’s important is nobody is yelling. This is the truth of it: loud, dramatic fights aren’t the sign of a healthy relationship. They’re a sign of incompatibility, unnecessary aggression and just overall not a good time. If we think otherwise it’s because our media so often romanticises abusive relationships instead of telling the truth: good partners won’t ever intimidate, insult or demean you.
ALL YOU NEED IS (ROMANTIC) LOVE
I blame The Beatles entirely for this one. Also for everything else bad in the world but let’s not get into that right now. It especially makes me mad because it’s scientifically incorrect and if there’s one thing I love it’s science. Scientifically you do not just need love. You also need food (such as cheeseburgers), nutrients (small health crystals found in most cheeseburgers) and a Capri Sun (a fantastic fruity beverage that goes great with cheeseburgers). You also need self-sufficiency, friendship, safety and goals of your own. You need respect and you need kindness. You need parts of your life that stand up unsupported by your romantic partner. Love is cool, don’t get me wrong. At its best it’s beautiful and life affirming and it’s what keeps us rooted to goodness and gentleness. But it’s not all you need. It’s not. It’s not. It’s not. And it never was.
ALL LOVE IS GOOD LOVE
Love is sometimes bad, pals. You’re eating a crazy kind of dirt to think otherwise. I’m not judging you though because guess what – I also used to eat that dirt. In fact, I was number one fan of that dirt. That dirt would see me coming and be like “YOU again? Get a job.” Anyway, love isn’t always good and gentle like it is in toilet roll adverts. It isn’t always returned to you as kindly as when you gave it. You can love a person as they unpick your self-esteem, your self-worth, as they disrespect and belittle you. You can love a person as they kill all the good parts of you. “But that’s not real love! Real love is always kind!” Okay maybe that’s true Barbara but it’s often very hard to tell the difference so pipe down a second. The truth is that bad love can feel like good love even when its knives are all the way through you. Maybe even especially then.
“Love is cool, don’t get me wrong. At its best it’s beautiful and life affirming and it’s what keeps us rooted to goodness and gentleness. But it’s not all you need. It’s not. It’s not. It’s not. And it never was”
SACRIFICING EVERYTHING IS NORMAL (AND REQUIRED)
Real life isn’t some misty airport scene where you come running across the tarmac and you and your boo take off in a tiny plane that doesn’t even have in-flight movies and you start a whole new life together. That actually sounds like a huge bummer when you think about it. No, the best love comes along and sits pleasantly beside the good and lovely parts of the life you already have, the one you built for yourself. The two make polite conversation, they smile. You all eat dinner together. It’s cheeseburgers forever. Your favourite.
IF HE’S MEAN TO YOU JUST BE NICER. GIVE HIM MORE OF YOURSELF
There’s this one Disney film where a beautiful girl goes to live with a large passive-aggressive Ugg boot and a talking clock that can’t mind his own business. At the end of the film they fall in love and he stops being an Ugg boot and becomes a handsome man. What the film seems to suggest is that however abusive and aggressive an Ugg boot is you should keep giving him chances. Because he’s your perfect man or some shit. This, as a French person might say, is garbáge. It’s bullshit. It’s lies. If someone is awful to you then they don’t deserve to be with you. It’s pretty much as simple as that. Not even if they’re an Ugg boot with a really nice house. Not even if they’re reallllly really sorry about if afterwards. Not even then.
YOU NEED TO BE RESCUED
When you’re young and depressed and living on a daily diet of Coco Pops and 19 episodes of The Bachelorette you can’t help dreaming that somewhere along the way someone will come along and rescue you. Here’s the thing though: you mostly have to rescue yourself. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ve learnt the most valuable lessons of my life digging myself up out of soup. It’s what makes you the person you’re going to be, the person who gets to be happy and settled and without fear. Also you should always be a little suspicious of anyone who pursues you at your lowest ebb, who treats you like a human project or land to be conquered. That’s some weirdo-shit.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT IS RATIONAL AND LIKELY
I fall in love maybe 69 times a day. On the train, on the bus, at work. I fall in love with that picture of a young Joseph Stalin whenever I see it because I forget who it is. Does that mean me and a young Joseph Stalin would be a good match? Ummmmm no probably not. Get your head out of your ass, Joan. It just doesn’t work like that. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, probably it does. Probably sometimes two people see each other across the Lidl carpark and fall madly in love and stay together for 85 years until they both die in an easily avoided fairground accident. But it’s really rare so don’t count on it.
ROMANTIC LOVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING AND WITHOUT IT YOU’RE INCOMPLETE
Imagine a fancy woman walking down the street. She has the right amount of teeth and it kind of seems like she owns a hairbrush. A narrator with a handsome voice starts talking- “CYNTHIA ALMOST HAD IT ALL. SHE HAD AT LEAST SIX PAIRS OF SHOES AND SHE WORKED IN FINANCE DOING FINANCIAL FINANCING. BUT THE ONE THING SHE DIDN’T HAVE….. WAS LOVE”. This is what all romantic comedies sound like. A woman has great friends, a job she loves, her own toothbrush… and yet she’s miserable because she’s not got a boyfriend. Now I’m not saying fuck all the Cynthia’s out there who need love to be happy. That’s cool. I’m just saying fuck the idea that we’re all Cynthia. Some of us are not Cynthia. And even those of us who are Cynthia could probably do with being a lot less Cynthia sometimes. Like those times when we’ve jeopardised our careers, our education, or travel opportunities, all for a slim chance at a romantic happy ever after. We were being real dummies those times.
YOU’LL NEVER GET OVER YOUR FIRST LOVE
First loves are accidental. Let me tell you something about this. When I was a little kid I was in love with Kermit the frog. I thought he was lovely and green and we would get married one day. But then guess what? I found out he was already in love. With a beautiful pig. And it was hurtful and devastating, sure. But I got over it. And the week after that I fell in love with Harry Potter. You, just like me, are a complex and ever-changing entity and you are going to love and be loved by all manner of different people in your life. You hear that Kermit – I don’t need you anymore. You are nothing to me. You are a meme and you are going to Hell.