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Chineze Aina: Unhelpful Relationship Clichés We All Need to Let Go Off



One of the earliest clichés that I heard and clung to for most of my more youthful days is that a “man won’t pay for a cow if he can get the milk for free.” This saying  was helpful in a way: it caused girls to abstain from having sex because of shame and the notion that the man uses the woman for his satisfaction and she is, afterward, of no use to him.


Relationships provide fertile ground for clichés, I am sure we have all heard lots of ‘superior wisdom’ handed down through countless generations under the guise of guiding couples. Over the years, many more clichés have surfaced. But this is 2021, and some of these clichés are now unhelpful. Let us look at some of them:

Love Conquers All


This has been proven to be untrue many times and should be honourably retired from the list of clichés you use in relationships. You cannot love a person into treating you better, or contributing to a relationship or sacrificing for your family. Love does not pay bills or do dishes. Believing that love conquers all has caused people to stay in relationships they should have severed long before. It has caused people to believe that since their love didn’t magically solve their relationship troubles, perhaps there is something wrong with them.


Many times, love doesn’t conquer all troubles. It is important to work together with your partner to achieve the relationship you desire, not to hinge the whole relationship on love alone.

What is Yours Cannot Be Taken Away From You


This cliché encourages passivity in relationships. You most likely receive this advice when you feel unease in the relationship or confused about the things happening in your relationship. When people say this to you, they mean to encourage you. It also helps you accept whatever calamity or hurtful situation you find yourself in. In modern relationships, it is critical to not leave things purely to the divine and mysteries of the world. Do not avoid critical conversations because you believe that what will be will be.

Opposites Will Always Attract


This cliché has led to more heartache, perhaps more than the others. Many people have been plunged into the murky waters of toxic relationships because they believe if they desire peace, their ideal partner should love chaos. Or if they like saving, their match has to be a spender. Opposites do not attract, and people with similar interests enjoy more loving and lasting relationships than those constantly trying to learn how to appreciate or support their partner’s opposing interests.

There Are Many Fishes in the Ocean


No, there aren’t. At least not in the relationship ocean. As you would expect, there will always be exciting options, but dating sites are still full of people looking for love. Finding a match even though there are 7 billion people on earth is not an easy accomplishment.


This is one cliché you use when a friend is coming out of a nasty breakup, and you genuinely want to encourage them to feel better. But it is becoming evident that while this well-intentioned cliché may get the person to go out there and have fun and look for more creative connections, this may be inaccurate.


Don’t Ever Go to Bed Angry


Ask most couples the secret to their lasting marriage, and you’ll elicit this response: “we never go to bed angry.” This is not always true

This can be exhausting and can weigh you down with guilt. This invariably means you’ll sweep things under the carpet or stay up late earnestly trying to talk to a partner who doesn’t want to talk at all. Or what if you require help to feel better in the morning about the whole situation? Advising couples to never go to bed angry isn’t always accurate, some arguments or conflicts are more complicated than others and require time for both parties to talk things through gradually. But when you advise people to never go to bed angry, you could cause more problems for the couple. A build-up of unresolved conflicts doesn’t do a relationship any good.


You Cannot Love others if you Don’t Love Yourself


This is not completely accurate as many people have been able to love others fully even if they are experiencing things that make them feel less than confident or secure. People can love their partners and even be fully present in a relationship without loving themselves. Partners of people who committed suicide have constantly said they detected no signs in their partners because they could put their pain away and take part in the relationship. This is because the human capacity to love is often unhindered by personal struggles.


If They Cheated Once, They Would Cheat Again

This cliché may work if you observe a pattern and the person you are with habitual cheats. But if it happens one time, and the person has demonstrated an ability to turn a new leaf and realize the consequences of distressing you, then you can definitively say this cliché is not true. People who repeatedly cheat are self-absorbed. It’s sensible to say this cliché is not effective in encouraging a person to decide whether to stay with a person who cheated on them or not.



Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

Chineze lives in Lagos with her husband and 3 young children. She is excited to connect on twitter @ChinezeAnuli, Instagram @chinezeaina and Medium

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