Lies you've been told about love

There are countless lies you've been told about love. After all, every song on the radio seems to be about this emotion, right? The hit TV shows and romantic comedy movies we watch center around love stories. There's always a couple that everyone loves to ship. All of these depictions of love in the media make it all too easy to have a skewed view of love and believe things that just aren't true.

Social media is no help either. Instagram influencers share their gorgeous weddings and friends post date-night selfies. Dating apps and websites promise to find the perfect one for you. It can be difficult, to say the least, to sort out the realistic from the unrealistic when it comes to your expectations of love.

From the notion of soulmates to going to bed angry, there are plenty of things to question when it comes to love. According to experts, these are some of the biggest lies you've been told about love.

It's a lie that love has a unique effect on your brain

There's nothing quite like the feeling of being or falling in love, right? Turns out that's just one of the many lies you've been told about love. It is true, though, that a lot happens to your body when you're in love. Romantic love does cause the brain to release dopamine, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher told Business Insider. This brain chemical causes us to feel euphoric and it's linked to pleasure, but that's not unique to love. Drugs also cause the brain to have more dopamine, which may make someone feel "high." 

Researcher Timothy Loving conducted a study (via CNN) that looked specifically at subjects' brains while they were asked to think about falling in love. After doing so, the participants ended up having higher levels of cortisol.

Seeing the person you love also causes an increase of adrenaline (the hormone that our body makes in times of crisis) in your brain. Adrenaline is the reason you'll sometimes blush when you see your crush or cause your heart to beat faster, not unlike what happens if you were to get in some cardio on the treadmill.

Don't believe the lie that says you need to have a lot in common with your partner

Finding someone similar to you to fall in love with makes the most sense. It seems risky to be with someone different from you. They could misunderstand you, leading to conflict or you might get bored in the relationship since you're both interested in different things. However, it would be a lie to say compatibility is everything.

A study conducted by Ted Hudson, a doctor at the University of Texas (via The Gottman Institute), followed married couples over time. He found that the couples who were happily married didn't think compatibility was the reason they had a good marriage — it was because they put work into it. In contrast, the unhappy couples cited being incompatible with their partner as the reason the relationship wasn't working. In truth, a relationship goes well when people put effort into it. It's not about how well your personalities match up.

John Gottman, marriage researcher and founder of The Gottman Institute, attributes the length of a happy relationship to how a couple treats each other. It's less about who you are and more about how you interact with each other.

This is a common lie about falling out of love

Just as we have no control over falling in love, it seems like we wouldn't have control over falling out of love as well. Researchers Brian Boutwell, J.C. Barnes, and Kevin Beaver have found otherwise. In an article for the Review of General Psychology (via Psychology Today), they came up with the term "mate rejection module." Part of this "mental mechanism," according to the researchers, is the primary mate ejection — that is, the purposeful choice to reject a partner.

Rapper and writer Margret Wander, aka Dessa, detailed her journey of purposely falling out of love in a 2018 TED talk. When she decided she needed to get over her long-time boyfriend, she got together with some neuroscientists who studied her brain. Through an fMRI, they found the area of her brain associated with her feelings for him. She then went through neurofeedback therapy to retrain her brain.

After this therapy, Dessa said her brain no longer lit up in response to pictures of her ex. She had essentially trained her brain to feel less love for him, which means all those people were actually lying when they told you it's impossible to control falling out of love.

You're either in love or out of love is one big lie

Love isn't black and white — and anyone who says it is telling you a big old lie. There are degrees to the feeling. The word itself is subjective. One person's definition of love may be more or less intense than someone else's view of it. You may care for someone, but don't consider yourself to be "in love" with the person. Or, you might love someone but also have some negative feelings about your relationship.

According to a Psychology Today article penned by philosopher Berit Brogaard, people can romantically love others to varying degrees. "You can love one person more than another, you can love one woman a lot and another woman a bit less, you can love someone too much and you can be in that in-between phase where you neither definitely love someone nor do not love them," she explained. The expert revealed that this is also how someone can tell you that they love you and then soon after leave to be with someone else.

This lie says love is a feeling, not a choice

Matchmaker and dating coach Karenna Alexander believes that falling in love often means making a choice — even before you meet your significant other. It means being "open to what comes along," she told Bustle, and ready for a relationship. Laura Bilotta, a fellow dating coach and matchmaker, told the publication that choosing to be open to love requires being willing to be vulnerable.

Matchmaker Bridgette Hall added, "Falling in love is a feeling, but staying in love is a choice and a commitment." She noted that love takes choosing to focus on the positive aspects of your relationship. Relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein further revealed that you'll also have to decide if you want to invest in a relationship with the person you like. 

Choosing to invest in your relationship takes work. Linda and Charlie Bloom, social workers and authors, describe this investment as a skill. Feeling in love isn't enough to make a relationship work, they say. It's a lie that love merely involves emotion; it requires practicing relating to each other.

It's healthy for your relationship to express your anger, according to this lie

You've probably been told that it's productive to be open with your significant other about negative feelings, but not only is this kind of a lie, it can also backfire. Marriage researcher and founder of The Gottman Institute, John Gottman, revealed to The New York Times that couples who freely express their anger are more likely to be unhappy in the relationship. Venting these feelings can foster more negativity.

Clinical psychologist Randi Gunther wrote for Psychology Today that arguments are "often likely to create cumulative damage over time." She warned that anger can cause your partner to become defensive, leading to misunderstandings. According to Gottman, a healthier way to deal with these emotions is to manage them before tensions arise. It's best when partners respond positively to each other, even when the other has said something negative. It's also key to talk about issues when you're both feeling calm, Gottman told The New York Times.

Chances are, your partner's anger is more about their own feelings than about you. Anger is usually a mask for more vulnerable emotions that can be hard to share, so your goal should be to try to understand your partner's anger.

Don't believe the lie that you need to give as much love as you receive

You should give as much love as you take, right? After all, that's what you've always been told. However, it's a lie. Giving as much love to your partner as they give to you may seem like a healthy relationship habit, but it's actually selfish, social psychologist Susan K. Perry revealed in an article for Psychology Today. It's a self-centered way to view your partnership because you're focusing on giving what you would want, rather than thinking about what they would want. People often assume that they're giving more than their significant other and this can lead to "reciprocation wariness," which is being hesitant to give to your partner when you feel like you've already done your part. 

In his research on marriage, John Gottman found that "marriages oriented around reciprocity were less successful." Keeping score causes resentment and disappointment, he detailed to PureWow (via Yahoo! Finance) when expectations aren't met.

As matchmaker Bridgette Hall told Bustle, you should "focus on what you could be doing for your partner, rather than focusing on what they are not doing for you."

It's a lie that failed relationships can't be predicted

No one goes into a relationship expecting it to end and, although it's not possible to see the future, it's a lie that you can't predict the relationship's outcome, at least to an extent. Often times, marriage therapists know a relationship won't last because of how the couple fights. According to John Gottman's research (via Psychology Today), fights tell all. After 30 years of practice, Gottman says he is 90 percent accurate when it comes to predicting which of the couples he studies will divorce.

Fighting in relationships is natural, but the way these fights are handled (both during and after) can make or break a partnership. It doesn't matter so much what your fighting style is, but rather whether your style fits with your significant other's. 

The three fighting styles are made up of conflict-avoidant, volatile, and validating. According to Psychology Today, avoidant couples have a calm but distant marriage. Volatile style marriages involve expressing a lot of positive and negative feelings with passion. Validating couples work through arguments peacefully with love, but aren't quite as passionate. Gottman asserts that it isn't important what you're arguing about, just that you do it graciously.

It's time to rethink the lie that married couples rarely have sex

Once the honeymoon stage is over, the passion starts to wane, right? You've farted in front of each other and there is no mystery left, and not much intimacy either. People have probably warned you that, eventually, the sex is going to become practically nonexistent in your relationship. But, actually, that's just another lie you've been told about love.

Marriage researcher John Gottman explained it this way: "As long as the cost of saying 'no' to an invitation to sex by one's partner is just slightly positive (and not zero), I showed that the couple will have a lot of sex." When there is a negative response from your partner when you decline sex, you may have sex less often. So, it's true for some couples that they'll have less sex over time, but it doesn't have to work that way.

Laurie Watson, a couples and sex therapist, told Bustle that couples in long-term relationships actually have more sex than single people. In addition to this, Watson says that women have more orgasms when they're in a committed relationship.

Love is easy: one of the biggest lies of all

It sounds so romantic to say that all you need is love. If only that were all that's needed for a happy relationship, but, unfortunately, that's simply a lie many of us have been tricked into believing. In reality, love takes work from both partners. Marriage researcher and founder of The Gottman Institute, John Gottman, revealed on his site that it's important for couples to purposely make time for "romance, great sex, fun, and adventure." Otherwise, your relationship becomes about practical tasks and housekeeping, rather than having fun together.

In addition to prioritizing fun with your partner, Gottman says that love requires working at communication. Healthy communication keeps the relationship thriving.

Couples therapist Laurie Watson explained that sex also takes work. She explained to Bustle that it requires "lots of careful communication, courageous vulnerability, practice and negotiation." It's challenging when you expect sex to come easily but it doesn't. That's normal, though, according to Watson. It's especially common to encounter roadblocks to sex with your partner at the beginning of a relationship. She explained that when you're honest with your significant other about your sexual needs, you make it easier for them to do the same.

"The one" is just a lie

If you've ever heard that there's one person for everyone, we have some news: It was all a lie. According to one study (via Psychological Science), people are actually less committed to their significant other when they believe in the concept of soulmates. They also have a harder time showing forgiveness and feel more anxious in the relationship.

People who believe in soulmates also view conflict more negatively. They have a more black and white view: One person is their soulmate, so if there's conflict with their current partner, that person must not be it. It can create a cycle of looking for someone better, instead of trying to make things work in your current relationship.

In case all of these reasons to stop believing in soulmates wasn't enough to convince you, here's the math. The probability of finding "the one" is very slim. After running the numbers, Randall Munroe, roboticist for NASA, wrote in his book (via Bustle) that "you'll only find true love in one lifetime out of 10,000."

If you listen to this lie, you'll think physical attraction comes before love

In movies, you'll see a couple lock eyes for the first time and, in the very next scene, you'll see them in the throes of passion. Because that's how it works, right? You find someone attractive, get to know them, and, later, you two fall in love later. That's a lie, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher, who is the chief science adviser for Match.com.

As part of her work, Fisher surveys singles every year and has found that the first thing that a potential partner judges you by is not your body. It's actually your self-confidence, teeth, and grammar that people notice first, the expert revealed to BuzzFeed News. In fact, according to Fisher's research, 98 percent of singles are most turned on by sexual confidence, rather than physical looks. Fisher later revealed that 54 percent of single people surveyed had been in love with someone they weren't attracted to right off the bat.

It's a lie that you should ignore your partner's annoying quirks

We all have our weird habits, but they're not annoying when they're your own quirks, right? They are annoying, however, when they belong to your significant other. To keep the peace, it's tempting to ignore them and hope you'll stop noticing. Others may have advised you to do just that, saying you'll get used to the person's habits, but that's a lie. In actuality, you'll probably stew in your annoyance until, one day, you finally surprise your partner by erupting in frustration over their nail-biting habit. 

In an article for O, The Oprah Magazine, life coach Martha Beck suggested spending some time apart from your partner when you find yourself annoyed at those little quirks. The expert also advised figuring out why you're feeling that way and focusing on improving yourself instead of trying to change your significant other.

Psychology Today noted that people often get angry at their significant others for small annoyances when they're really frustrated over bigger issues, like work issues. To combat this, it's important to focus on the positive aspects of your relationship, not the problems. Gratitude is key.

This lie would you have you believe that all fights can be solved

Believing the lie that all fights can be solved can lead to unrealistic expectations and unnecessary pressure on the relationship, according to The Gottman Institute (via Psychology Today). Fights have a positive purpose: they help us get to know our partner better. These fights are normal — there's never been a couple that hasn't had an argument.

John Gottman, marriage researcher and founder of The Gottman Institute, revealed on his site that arguments are usually caused by miscommunications or unmet expectations. Often, one partner is trying to be emotionally close to the other and it doesn't work, causing conflict. 

According to Gottman, 69 percent of conflict in relationships is recurring. Since these issues can't be fully solved, the researcher explained that it's important to accept that these arguments are due to differences in personality. The next step is to have open communication about the issues so that you don't distance yourselves from each other. Successful couples avoid negativity and aim for compromise and Gottman says it's okay to simply manage these arguments, rather than find solutions for them.

According to this old-school lie, it's bad to go to bed angry

You should never go to bed angry, or at least that's what people have told you. Turns out, though, that's nothing more than a lie. Feeling tired and angry is not a good combination. Psychologist Amie M. Gordon found in her research that when one of the partners in a relationship had not slept well the previous night, they had a hard time relating to their partner's feelings. Instead, she advised doing something peaceful before bed and seeing if you're still angry the next morning.

Psychologist Guy Winch further recommends talking with your partner to decide when to continue your argument. You'll get a good night's sleep and discuss the issue at a better time. This allows both partners time to calm down and get perspective to avoid the conflict escalating.

In The Gottman Institute's Love Lab, researchers discovered that people embroiled in arguments are "physiologically stressed." These physical symptoms of stress that come from a fight with your significant other make it difficult for logical conversation, whereas going to bed gives your body time to relax.