11 Lies About Love

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It was in counseling that Stephanie realized another significant impact of her abusive marriage. She thought that getting away from her husband would be enough to free her, but her mind was still trapped. He said abusive things like, “You are a fool,” “You can’t do anything right,” and “You are worthless,” she now repeated in her head. Worse yet, her perception of love radically changed.

She now saw love as dangerous, confining, and vulnerable, yet she longed to be loved again. The roots of her poor perception of love were not just the result of an abusive marriage, it also stemmed from her childhood. Her alcoholic mother never attached to her so Stephanie was constantly looking for love from all the wrong people. This left her susceptible to an abusive husband.

Unfortunately, Stephanie had twisted definitions of love born out of dysfunctional parenting and an abusive marriage. These erroneous perceptions of love did significant damage to her and her relationships. Some of the lies may even be hidden in seemingly innocent remarks. So Stephanie decided to write out the lies that cause the destruction of a loving relationship.

  1. “I’ll show you love when you do what I ask.” Lie: Love is conditional.Lasting love is not based on a person’s performance. Rather, it is grounded in seeing the best in someone despite what they may do. But this doesn’t mean that abusive behavior should be tolerated. Boundaries can be established for safety and a person can be loved from a distance without it being conditional.
  2. “If I didn’t love you, I won’t be so mean.” Lie: Love is cruel. Truth can be spoken in a kind and non-hurtful manner without damaging a person’s ego, generating fear, or destroying an image. A person in a truly loving relationship should experience more thoughtfulness, compassion, and kindness than a friend or stranger might receive.
  3. “If you love me you will do it now.” Lie: Love is impatient. Demanding immediate compliance, being intolerant of other’s timing, or getting annoyed/irritated by another person is not love. Not everyone has the same pace in life. Loving someone means being tolerant of the person’s speed which is usually determined by personality, trauma, and motivation.
  4. “You love the kids more than me.” Lie: Love is jealous. Comparing love for one person over another is dangerous. The love a parent feels for a child is not the same as the love for a friend, spouse, parent, or even pet. Each has different weights and significance. Accepting love from a person means finding satisfaction in their ability to express it without jealous demands.
  5. “When you show me love, I’ll show it back.” Lie: Love itemizes. Keeping a record of rights vs. wrongs in a relationship does not show love. Rather, it places the relationship on a ledger where a person constantly has to prove their value in comparison to another. This wears a person out and exhausts the relationship.
  6. “It doesn’t matter if you feel loved, it matters how I feel.” Lie: Love is selfish. In the ‘it’s all about me’ culture, the concept that love is not self-focused but other-focused is lost. Too often it is about what a person gets from a relationship not about what a person gives to the relationship that becomes the emphasis. This hinders the free expression of love.
  7. “You HAVE to love me!” Lie: Love is forceful. No one has to do anything. A person should have the freedom to choose to love and not feel it is an obligation. Mandating love limits the power of love to work in life and relationship. When forced, it becomes a destructive weapon that can leave a permanent scar.
  8. “I love you more than anyone else could.” Lie: Love brags. Anytime a person says this statement, it is more about the insecurity of the person speaking than the value of the person receiving the comment. This is designed to ‘put a person in their place’ as a form of unnatural submission. A person who loves someone a lot has no need to brag, their actions speak far louder than words.
  9. “If you love me you won’t brush your teeth that way.” Lie: Love nick-picks. On any given day, there are probably 1,000 things that a person can do in an annoying fashion. Focusing on these small items and demanding change is not loving the person for whom they are. True love overlooks the small infractions and sees the larger picture of a person’s character.
  10. “No one can love you because of what you have done (or who you really are).” Lie: Love is resentful. The saddest of the lies is the one which displays long-standing resentment and hurt. Granted there are some issues that may end a relationship but that doesn’t mean there needs to be bitterness going forward. If the relationship is to survive the pain, then the anger must be released, or it will cause its own end.
  11. “I’m going to leave because you don’t love me.” Lie: Love quits. Real love does not give up on another person. However, it might set safe boundaries to keep from getting hurt again in the future. Not giving up on a person means hopefulness remains regardless of the circumstances.

Most of these statements don’t arise when the conversation is normal and functioning. Rather, they tend to surface during a confrontation. It is when a person is under pressure that the true nature of their character and misguided beliefs about love are revealed.

Narcissistic Ignorance and A More Productive You

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You might have observed a common feature of the new age activist to be a potent lack of charisma. Ready-made phrases half-remembered, delivered with the aimless gusto of a squirrel with vertigo. Passionate speeches presented clumsily. The best of them are sloppy regurgitations and the worst of them are unintelligible.

Lately, it seems we’re encouraged to supplant acknowledgment of our shortcomings with distractions and oversimplifications. Freedom of expression has been redefined as a celebration of ignorance – one that is governed by an enmity toward expertise. Working in tandem with this is the societal effect of the degradation of language Orwell warned us about more than 70 years ago.


A vulgar misunderstanding of terms like “democracy” has curbed forward thought and dispelled the notion of appraising opinions. The youthful impulse to hold mavens to the fire isn’t itself a problem. A problem only arises when the impulse ceases to be attended by research and self-awareness. Being informed is a long painful, humbling process.

Authority is not a virtue earned lightly.

“Unskilled and unaware”

I recently wrote about the pluralistic ignorance of imposter syndrome-the idea that everyone feels alone in their self-doubt. This collective lack of confidence is certainly a hindrance to a productive labor system but the other end of the cognitive spectrum is just as detrimental. This other end was officially classified in response to the comical misfortune of a man named Mcarthur Wheeler.

In 1995, Wheeler robbed two banks in Pittsburgh- in broad daylight. As he exited the banks (both of them) he made a point to smile at surveillance cameras-without a mask. He did, however, have a coat of lemon juice on his face. When authorities caught him they showed him the security footage. Wheeler’s reaction was one of utter bemusement.

Given that lemon juice is sometimes used as an ingredient when creating invisible ink it stands to “reason” that bathing one’s face in the stuff would effectively conceal it from cameras. Wheeler wasn’t under the influence of any substances nor was he clinically insane.

This profound error of judgment alerted the interest of psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger. The two soon after conducted studies to explore the Illusion of superiority instanced by Wheeler- inspiring the label: The Dunning Kruger effect.

The Dunning Kruger effect refers to the unearned sense of mastery expressed by those of low ability; a misunderstanding of aptitude energized by a lack of base level knowledge.

Dunning and Kruger began inspecting the condition with a pool of undergraduate students. After presenting them with a series of cognitive tasks they would ask the students how well they thought they did. Those that scored the lowest consistently overestimated how well they did by a significant margin.

The effect doesn’t just apply to academia. Similar experiments conducted at a gun range birthed the same results. Another study asked software engineers at two companies to evaluate their performance. 32% of the employees at one company and 42% of employees at the other company rated themselves in the top 5%.

It’s not merely a matter of overconfidence. It’s a blind defiance of logic. The more incompetent you are, the more vulnerable you are to mistakes of self-perception.

“A Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all.”

Tom Nichols detailed a potential cause pretty powerfully in his book back in 2017. The Death Of Expertise describes the mass rejection of science and rationality. Nichols correctly suggests that the right we all have to speech has blunted our ability to properly assess its value. In some instances, some people’s import is worth more than others. That’s an important and obvious distinction to make.

“Doctors, whatever their errors, seem to do better with most illnesses than faith healers or your Aunt Ginny and her special chicken gut poultice. To reject the notion of expertise, and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is silly.” Charitable.

Our rabid antipathy toward experts partly owes itself to our collective masochism-particularly when it comes to progress.  We have a long way to go in the fields of science and epistemology. I understand the tendency to focus on the “lack ofs” that is bred out of frustration, but we’ve made some considerable strides. That’s undeniable. It is objectively lucky to born in the year 2019.

Every plane that doesn’t crash, every person that doesn’t die from this or from that is a testament to our trajectory and a plea to adhere to the counsel of those that have put in the work and time in their respective fields.

A hesitance to request honest feedback, and a commitment to the idea that pundits don’t exist, is heartening drab dialogue. On a selfish level, narcissistic ignorance has made many of us incredibly boring and unproductive. You can’t concurrently harbor a fear of failure and a passion for enlightenment. Just like you can’t have a proper shave without a mirror.

Metacognition

In closing, I’d like to share some thoughts on thoughts; i.e. the only thing keeping me from being a horrible writer is the awareness that I’m, at best, a pretty bad one.

The process of evaluating the extent of what you do and do not know falls under the umbrella of a term coined by a developmental psychologist named John Flavell, in 1976: metacognition, “thinking about thinking.”

It’s the cycle of scrutiny and surveillance that equips us with instruments of self-improvement. The idea that because information is so readily available expertise is just a free afternoon away is both quixotic and cynical. Reading a Wikipedia article about existentialism with the expectation of becoming erudite is like eating an apple without a stomach and expecting the nutrients.

Like Nichols states, intuitive knowledge is more complicated than memory retention. Lived experiences matter.

Skepticism isn’t itself the issue. In fact, true progress requires a healthy dose of it. Not on its own though. Pyrrhonism is a highly reactive property. Coupling it with deliberation, and a clear understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses, promotes it considerably.

We have much more to learn from the failure of experts than we do from the critique of fools.

You Are Strong For Leaving Him

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Should you have walked away from him sooner? Probably. Did he deserve all the sweet things you did for him, all of the cute texts and passionate kisses and second chances? Probably not.

However, since you cannot turn back time, since you cannot talk sense into the younger version of yourself, you should stop thinking about how much time he wasted on him. Instead, think about how much time you are saving yourself now that you are through with him.

Screw the passive aggressive friends who say I told you so and it’s about time when you break up instead of giving you their support. You don’t have to justify yourself to them. You don’t have to explain how you were blinded by love or how you didn’t have anywhere else to go or how you didn’t think you would be able to live without him. It doesn’t matter. It’s over now.

You should stop being embarrassed about how long you dealt with his bullshit. You should stop calling yourself an idiot for not seeing the signs sooner. You should stop criticizing yourself for making mistakes in the past and start congratulating yourself for waking up.

You could have stayed trapped with him for much longer. You could have wasted another month, year, or decade of your life with him. You should be proud of yourself for getting away. You should be proud of yourself for realizing you deserve more. Not everyone has as much strength as you — and don’t you dare shake your head. Don’t you dare argue about being called strong.

It doesn’t matter how many times you forgave him for cheating or lying or screaming. It doesn’t matter if there were times when you sobbed your eyes out over him and begged him not to leave. It doesn’t matter if your love for him made you feel weak, if it made you do things you are not proud of doing.

Despite what happened before, you are strong for living without him now. You are strong for deciding you have had enough of him. You are strong for surviving this heartbreak — even if you still cry over missing him, even if you are still tempted to text him, even if you feel lost without him. You are strong.

You cannot keep moping over how much time you wasted with him. You have to make the most of your time without him.

You should also recognize your time was not completely wasted because you learned from him. You learned you should not put your whole heart and soul into a relationship where you are the only one giving. You learned you should listen to your head over your heart when they are pulling you in separate directions.

You learned you should raise your standards and your expectations for how you should be treated in a relationship. You learned you are better off loving yourself than chasing someone else in the hopes they will love you. Most importantly, you learned you deserve respect.

How To Let Go Of Relationship Baggage, According To Psychologists

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As people say, sometimes your past comes back to haunt you.

About five years ago I met someone we’ll call Josh via Tinder. He was charismatic and smart, and I was new to New York and desperate for something stable. As our relationship progressed, red flags sprung up, but I was too manipulated by his charm. He became extremely unreliable and would gaslight me into thinking I was just being overly emotional during our fights—even though he did extreme things like kicking me out of his apartment late at night and even cheated on me. I finally ended the relationship when he became physical during a nasty fight. To put it simply, those 10 months were a roller coaster so insane it would put Six Flags to shame.

Even though I haven’t had contact with the guy for years, the anxiety and pain from that experience still festers up inside of me each time I start to see a new guy. Will he be just like Josh? Will I not realize it until I’m knee-deep in it again? Or is this all just me? My heartbeat quickens whenever a guy’s behavior even remotely reminds me of Josh, and at its worst, I can spiral or pick a fight with my new partner when I perceive any even slight similarities. My relationship with him has somehow put a negative filter over any new relationships I’ve created.

Emotional baggage is the intangible but very real emotional weight we carry due to unresolved issues or traumas from previous relationships or childhood, according to Chicago-based clinical psychologist John Duffy. Until we face these issues, we’ll most likely bring our baggage into each new relationship.

“When a previous partner did something that your body perceived as a threat to security, your body will often have an emotional reaction, which is known as a trauma response,” Jessie Leader, a Minneapolis-based marriage and family therapist, tells me. It’s comforting to know how I’m feeling is a physiologically appropriate response. “Your body is trying to keep you safe and will prompt you to fight, run, or freeze from the threat.”

It’s normal for traumatic relationships to have such an impact on someone’s life. A 2011 study examined 63 intimate partner violence survivors and their mental health needs and found they have significant associations with post-traumatic stress disorder, including feelings like shame and guilt-related distress.

Tired of letting my bad memories make me feel ashamed or afraid—and thus tucking them away into the back of my brain—I’m starting to think of them as a chance to reflect, heal, and grow in my new relationship. Besides, everyone has baggage in some form or another.

“It is your job to be curious and explore why it happened and process feelings associated with the hurt,” Leader says. “It isn’t about letting go, rather about having a better relationship with this part of you.”

Here’s how to begin this process of healing and acceptance, according to psychologists and therapists:

1. Purge.
While getting pampered at the salon is always a nice way to practice self-care, getting a new haircut doesn’t mean you’ll instantly forget about your previous relationship. That being said, physical changes actually can help to some degree, explains Massachusetts-based psychological counselor Morella Devost. They can help you “remap your subconscious mind” as you create a new life, she says. So feel free to get a new hairstyle or rearrange your furniture—whatever helps you change the energy of your environment and feel like you’re on the cusp of a fresh start.

Additionally, it can be very helpful to get rid of all reminders of the toxic relationship, like pictures or gifts, she says. It’s especially constructive to discard this “visible baggage,” not only because it’s triggering to look at but because the very act of tossing it out can be powerful to the subconscious mind. In other words, purging your physical space can help you purge your mental space.

For me, it was so liberating to dispose of anything and everything that reminded me of Josh. Give those items a new start by donating whatever you can and throwing away the rest.

2. Open up with trust.
Since my relationship with Josh, I told maybe a total of two guys about what I went through. I was afraid it would sound like I had brought the entire thing on myself or that I was lying about such an extreme experience. So I kept it to myself—and let it consume me. For example, when my current partner Brendan showed up late to my apartment a few times, I found myself feeling frustrated and anxious because it reminded me of when Josh would leave me waiting for him for hours past our meeting time and without so much as a text.

“If you find yourself doubting your partner’s commitment, ability, or intent—consider how you might be activated by past hurt,” Leader says. “Then compare this to current evidence from your partner’s actions. Maybe you find that your partner is showing up in many ways, but your hurt from the past relationship is blinding your ability to see it.” (If they’re not, then this is the time to have a conversation about that.)

It was getting to the point where I felt like I had to let Brendan know why just showing up late bothered me so much. Leader encourages opening up to our partners about our past if we fully trust them.

“You can be compassionate with yourself and current partner by being explicit about past hurt and how trauma responses show up in an irrational way,” she said. “If this part of your story is named, then you can team up against this insecurity. If your partner is able and willing, they can use awareness to be more sensitive about how they show up. Awareness will help them notice actions that might make you feel insecure, scared, or distrusting.”

3. Focus on you.
The most important person in unpacking your emotional baggage isn’t the perpetrator or your new partner (no matter how awesome they are). It’s you.

“A toxic relationship can undermine your self-esteem and leave you with new limiting beliefs about yourself, about the nature of relationships, and about life that you didn’t have before the relationship,” Devost says. The best way to tackle these consequences is by working with a professional who has experience in trauma and PTSD. It’s vital that you take the time you need to fully process what happened and to let your wounds heal.

On top of that, you should look into simple practices like affirmations, deep self-care, and journaling. The beauty of these exercises is that you can turn to them whenever you feel triggered and overwhelmed. Devost especially recommends journaling because it can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings about the relationship and yourself. Some questions to ask yourself:

Who are you blaming?
What needs to heal?
What can you learn from yourself about the experience?
Although I don’t journal that regularly, I’ve found it cathartic to write down my thoughts while listening to one of my favorite playlists. Getting my thoughts out on paper is like transferring my spirals onto something more tangible and out of my system.

Healing from my relationship with Josh hasn’t been easy, and it isn’t entirely over. It’s a process in which I’m learning more about myself both alone and with a partner. As each day passes, I find myself growing more into the person who I know deserves all the love they can get. I find myself no longer ashamed of what happened and instead proud of myself for not letting it define me.

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