Whether or not you are married, you are more than likely brainwashed—at least in the area of dating and romance.
If you married younger than most of your peers, married the first person you dated, or are so single that it’s a sore subject, you probably view love, dating, marriage and sex through a warped, equation-driven point of view. People think that if they do X, Y and Z right, they will be happy with their love lives, satisfied with an epic romance and enjoying a “happily ever after” buzz. Where does that fog come from?
C.S. Lewis answers that question in Mere Christianity. He says:
“[M]ake quite sure that you are judging [romance] by what you really know from your own experience and from watching the lives of your friends, and not by ideas you have derived from novels and films. This is not so easy to do as people think. Our experience is colored through and through by books and plays and the cinema, and it takes patience and skill to disentangle the things we have really learned from life for ourselves.”
How can we develop that skill Lewis talks about? How can you separate romantic fact from fiction both for yourself and in the world around you? One way to start sharpening your skills is to train your ears and eyes to recognize the myths propagated by the culture around you. (Be your own MythBuster.)
Here are three of the top dating myths:
Myth #1 – You can have it all. Myth #1 sounds something like this: A beautiful but lonely woman has made it to the top of her field. She has made no time for love, but suddenly one day, all that changes. She meets someone who understands the importance of her career and helps her follow all of her unrealized dreams.
The Effect: This myth tells you the lie that it’s possible for you meet all of your goals, leave romance behind, and still find someone that fits into the narrow space you’re willing to give them in your life and heart. If you are unconsciously absorbing this myth, you might believe that every good thing in your life comes from you and your hard work.
Myth #2 – You are not enough. This myth sucks you in right away with a heart-broken character. She’s been through a bad relationship or divorce or a death. In her place of sadness, she meets a man who heals her broken heart through his kindness and gentleness.
The Effect: The heartbreak story-arc and myth can leave you feeling that romance will cure all your pain and angst. This myth tells you that what God has given you through His Word and the church isn’t enough to meet your challenges. Instead of looking for the real salve of spiritual healing and renewal from the Holy Spirit and the Word, we seek the snake oil solution of human romance.
Myth #3 – You complete me. The girl in this myth is already in a relationship. She’s not alone. She’s with a guy who makes a lot of sense. He’s kind, sweet and affectionate, but something is missing. She sees a stranger across a room, and they instantly have a connection. She leaves stable security for what just feels right.
The Effect: When you believe Myth #3, you end up training your mind to expect constant chemistry and electric sexual tension as evidence that you are with the right person. Myth #3 is so pervasive and damaging. It turns commitment and fidelity on its head. If you believe this myth, the only thing worth committing to is the fleeting high you get from a new relationship.
People tend to have certain pre-set life narratives in their heads—stories that make sense—especially when it comes to romance. Christians and non-Christians alike spread these classic romantic myths. When life can’t be edited and cut into the latest Katherine Heigl movie, we retreat into fantasy—judging others, ourselves and our stories by impossible, created standards.
The next time you read a Jane Austen novel or watch a movie like “Sleepless in Seattle,” look for these myths (and others, my original list of myths was much longer). So, that when you’re sorting through your own dating and romance choices or you are advising a friend, you can give godly counsel instead of the directors cut.