If ever there were proof of “getting in one’s own way,” it is the false beliefs about relationships, love and sexuality that many of us harbour — starting from the ubiquitous “I can’t meet someone special”, through the confusion of sexual orientation to romantic beliefs about love and sexual activity.
Here are a few helpful suggestions about navigating these popular misapprehensions.
Myth 1: Finding a partner is a matter of chance.
Most people do not meet in bars. Most people connect with someone they see often and get to know over time—the kid next door, someone in the same class, or someone with whom they engage often at work or socially. Yes, some people do “see someone across a crowded room” and there is instant attraction, but when and if that happens, that person must be assertive enough to act on that attraction and engage that person to see if anything develops over time.
Part of the mythology of finding a partner is that there is only a certain kind of person to whom one should be attracted. Go with your gut, I say. If there is an attraction, explore it!
Myth 2: A person is either straight or gay.
Currently bisexuality or “gender-queer” is accepted in many places, such as college campuses; but not in most. The idea that there are only two sides to the scale with no in-between, boy or girl, pink or blue, is very much the majority view. Some people change during their life, make a choice to present as male or female, or surprise themselves by becoming attracted to one of the sex they never before have. For some, male or female, straight or gay is a fluid situation, and we must honor who and how a person self-identifies.
Myth 3: Love conquers all.
I’m sorry to say It doesn’t. It does in the movies, but in real life love is not a panacea for major differences in the couple’s needs, wants, relationship skills, and more. Love fades if there are months of squabbles between the two, if one wants marriage or children and the other doesn’t, if economic issues grind them down. What if they love each other dearly but one’s “big break” comes calling that takes him or her in another direction? What if one in a hetero couple discovers his or her pull toward the same sex? So there are some situations love just does not win; the partners part, still loving one another but not together.
Myth 4 : Some day my prince will come and so will I.
The truth is that many women have difficulty achieving orgasm, while it comes easily and naturally to most men. So if it happens for him and it doesn’t for her, each may blame the other. If they are new to sex they may think there is something wrong with her. If either believes a man is “supposed to know about sex,” there will be guilt and disappointment and she may be left with the idea that’ some new lover will know how to press the right button.
It is the responsibility of everyone to learn about their own body and what feels good. Some touches feel great but won’t produce an orgasm. Some sexual engagements just don’t, and that needs to be okay with both. Sex is about enjoying one’s own and another’s body with no goal in mind—no more, no less.
Isadora Alman, via Psychology Today.
Isadora Alman, M.F.T., is a California licensed marriage and relationship therapist, a Board-certified sex therapist, author and lecturer. Her syndicated sex and relationship column "Ask Isadora" ran in alternative weekly papers worldwide for 25+ years.