4 Stories We Tell Ourselves In Relationships

Who doesn’t love a good story?

Last fall, as I was browsing the Free section on my Amazon Kindle, I came across a story I hadn’t read since childhood: The Velveteen Rabbit.


On a Saturday morning, I decided to read it out loud with my boyfriend, Sergio. It didn’t take long, but I was getting choked up reading this children’s story!

Maybe I was emotional at that time or maybe it’s just a classic tale of love and becoming you.

Stories In Relationships

Either way, stories that we read can be powerful. And the stories we tell ourselves have the power to shape the way we think, how we go about our day, and how we view our own relationships.

Our mind has the ability to concoct some pretty wild tales. If we’re not conscious of what we’re creating in our own minds, a small story can put a heaviness over how we view our relationship with our significant other.

Here are four stories to be aware of in your own relationship:

1. “That Couple Is Happier” – Comparison is an ugly creature. But I’ve done this and you’ve probably done it at some point. You see a couple walking down the street or being all lovey dove in the park and it appears on the outside that they have the perfect relationship. An elaborate, elegant story begins forming about how they have the Disney-like romance and your relationship is the nasty witch that gives Snow White the poisoned apple. To snap out of this, remember that, like the photos people post on Facebook, you can only see the snapshots of another’s relationship. The bright, happy, shiny moments. You don’t see the day to day. The work and ups and downs that take place in a quality relationship. Instead, talk to your lover about what “happiness” looks like for both of you.

2. “We’re Not What We Used To Be” – Remember those butterflies that you and your partner had when your relationship was fresh and new? Many studies show that after a few years, those butterflies fade. That’s normal! But too often we take it as a doomsday sign. That our relationship is on the rocks! Talk to your partner about those early days. What you loved. And talk about what you love about your relationship today. Basking in nostalgia for too long doesn’t serve us well. Be in the present in order to create a present that resonates with both of you.


3. “Every Day Should Be Cloud 9” – This is another story that comes from early on in a relationship. Everything is tremendously fun, new, and fresh. But like any “mountain top” moment or period of time, it can’t be sustained. I’ve found that being creative in your relationship takes intention. Last month, me and my boyfriend decided to go play ping pong here in Chicago. It was a blast! This new activity got us out of our usual routine and gave us a time of playfulness that was much needed. Get creative and create your own “Cloud 9” moments as a couple! It takes a lot of pressure off the relationship when you focus on “Cloud 9” moments instead of an un-ending period of nirvana.


4. “Our Relationship Would Be Perfect If/When…” – That “P” word is a whopper of a lie and comes with a lot of baggage. “Perfect” can trigger a lot of images and comparison with other relationships that we see either in our lives or in movies or film. “If/When” reeks of dwelling on the future instead of being really engaged in the present. I do my best to let go of the word “perfect” in every area of my life. It’s so vague and can mean something different to you and your partner. Instead, get together and paint a portrait, figuratively, about what an ideal day or week would look like for the both of you. That shared vision is powerful and will create a vibrant, joyful relationship to get you through any rough patches.


Step Out of The Old Story In Your Relationship and Create A New One

The next time your mind starts wandering down any of these story paths, remember you have the power to step out of it. Tell a new story. Write it down on paper. Create, with your lover, a vivid picture of the relationship you both desire. Turn stories into your friend.

Share in the comments below: What other stories do you usually tell about your relationship?

About Josh Hersh

Josh Hersh, life coach and entrepreneur, works alongside thoughtful gay men and creative folks to help them craft a life bursting with joy, love, and purpose. In 2014, he founded The Thoughtful Gay Man, whose mission is to create a world where every gay man lives empowered and from the heart. He currently lives in Chicago.