9 Myths About Love, According to Science

Daniela Andarcia · 8 April, 2021
Does having a child consolidate a relationship? Is jealousy a sign of true love? Do opposites attract? We'll show you what science says about these and other love myths.

Most of us have preconceived ideas about love, based on myths, TV series, and fairy tales. These have a lot to do with society, but what does science say on this matter?

The first thing we need to do is to differentiate between the love in couples and any other type of love. In this way, you’ll be able to more precisely define your feelings and the behavior associated with them.

We’re sure that you’re interested in discovering these myths about love according to science. Keep reading and we’ll share the main ones with you.

9 myths about love debunked by science

There are so many different kinds of relationships, and sentimental nuances are many and varied. For that reason, It’s important to sort out the truth from the myths, as this will help you to make fewer mistakes in love.

1. Conceiving a child strengthens a relationship

Myths about love include the formation of a family.
To bring up children in a stable environment you must have a lot of emotional and maturity in your relationship.

In contrast to what people often believe, the arrival of a child can actually be the beginning of a crisis that can end up taking such a toll on the relationship that it ends up breaking it. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, on average, happiness in a relationship tends to decrease with the arrival of children.

This doesn’t mean that they won’t love the child, and neither can we say that this is the case in all relationships. However, in a significant percentage of couples, the growing challenges end up complicating some areas, such as the area of finance, for example.

So, when a child is conceived with the idea that it will improve the relationship, this will only likely add to the complications.

For this reason, we recommend that you plan things well, and take into account and consider the many changes that having one or more children will entail.

2. Jealousy is a sign of true love

Although, from a cultural point of view, jealousy is validated as a manifestation of love, science relates it to a display of insecurity and a fear of being abandoned. No matter how much affection you give to your jealous partner, they will never feel safe.

For this reason, we recommend that you work on these feelings of jealousy and insecurity on your own, and hand in hand with a specialist. In the same way, keep in mind that intentionally promoting jealousy in your partner, in addition to being childish behavior, can be counterproductive.

Men tend to get aggressive or upset when there’s jealousy, while women tend to try to improve themselves or various aspects of the relationship.

3. You go to therapy only if the relationship is in trouble

Relationship ups and downs are more common than you might think, but knowing when to seek professional help is key. People often seek couples therapy when it is “too late” and certain positive aspects end up being affected.

Preventive therapy is a good option that helps to prevent this from happening to a great extent. This is because it provides the couple with tools that can lessen the effects of the tense moments and troughs that may occur during the relationship, thus helping them to not reach extremes and even destroy the relationship.

4. Love has an expiration date

This is not entirely true. A study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that the feelings of people who have had a relationship lasting one, two, or even three decades, were as strong as those who were in relationships of just a few years.

This conclusion is due to the fact that, during the experiment, certain brain areas of several of the volunteers from these two types of relationships reacted in the same way when they saw photos of their partners.

Despite what we’ve mentioned above, we still need to keep in mind that “eternal love” will always come as a result of communication, empathy, and respect, among other things, and doesn’t appear just by magic.

5. If there isn’t as much sex, it’s because they don’t love you

The loss of sexual desire has several causes, but the least frequent one is the absence of affection. The decrease in libido has a closer link to the presence of high levels of anxiety and stress. These factors often mean that people have less and less time and energy to cultivate their relationship.

But in order to detect this, you must have good communication. With patience, planning, and enthusiasm you can help things to return to normal in your sex lives. However, you should keep in mind that libido decreases in all relationships over time.

6. For the relationship to be successful, one of the two must give in

This is a dangerous and unhealthy premise linked to the classic idea of love that we can find in many books or films. However, this can actually be harmful in real life. This is because the phrase “give in” is linked to submitting. This is done either to avoid arguments or out of fear or sympathy.

In general, if we carry out this practice on a regular basis, then this will lead to a state of unhappiness in the relationship, and so the phrase “give in” must be replaced by a win-win agreement or situation, where both are involved on an equal basis. This should be based on respect and trust that, in turn, should be nurtured by each person’s individuality.

7. People who are very different are attracted to each other

Myths about love include the acceptance of differences.
Marked differences in personality can bring more problems than benefits.

This premise can easily be translated into the common idea that “opposites attract”. If you meet someone who is very different from you, then this phrase may come to mind. These differences may be what create the first impact between you and open the door to the initial conversation with your future husband or wife.

However, when these differences are very obvious or extreme, and the people disagree, for example, about some fundamental values that the other person holds, then this is where the attraction ends. A significant number of people with stable and lasting relationships actually share many aspects, tastes, and values, and this compatibility helps the relationship to be a harmonious one in the long term.

There are even studies from the animal kingdom that show that like-minded “couples” tend to be better parents than those who aren’t.

8. Love alone is enough

Love alone is not enough to be happy. While it’s true that this is important at the start of a relationship, in order to maintain it, you need more than that. Financial stability, respect, empathy, and communication, for example, are important values that can determine the duration of the relationship.

Thus, shared projects are a plus when it comes to strengthening couples’ relationships. In this way, when you start to go out with someone, be aware of whether these aspects are present in your relationship or not.

9. To end the relationship, love must end

When there are irreconcilable differences, it’s best to think about ending the relationship, even if you still feel positive emotions towards your partner. When you have tried to solve the problems, but they persist and get worse, the healthiest thing is not to fight against the inevitable and to end the relationship.

This decision will allow you to cultivate good wishes towards the other person, and not distort the memories of the rewarding experiences during the relationship.

What to remember from the myths about love?

While it’s true that love is the key to starting a relationship, one of the myths is that it’s decisive to keep that relationship going. Other factors such as common tastes and values, respect, communication, and empathy will strengthen the relationship and can really make the difference regarding commitment to your partner.

And, finally, having realistic expectations is a good tool for couples in order to help them know whether they should take on new responsibilities such as having a child. This is a vital decision and your whole relationship can hinge on making the correct choice.

  • Doss, B. D., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2009). The effect of the transition to parenthood on relationship quality: an 8-year prospective study. Journal of personality and social psychology, 96(3), 601–619. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013969
  • Puente, S., & Cohen, D. (2003). Jealousy and the meaning (or nonmeaning) of violence. Personality & social psychology bulletin, 29(4), 449–460. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167202250912
  • Acevedo, B. P., Aron, A., Fisher, H. E., & Brown, L. L. (2012). Neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 7(2), 145–159. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsq092
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  • EurekAlert! [Published 2016 Feb 23]. New study finds our desire for ‘like-minded others’ is hard-wired. Available from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/wc-nsf022216.php
  • EurekAlert! [Published 2011 Jan 27]. Opposites may attract, but they don’t make better parents. Available from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-01/uoe-oma012711.php