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  • Writer's pictureChristina Gesing

The "Must-urbation" Trap

“Must-urbations" are beliefs we hold and think we absolutely have to meet. The term was coined by Albert Ellis, a pioneer of cognitive psychotherapy.

Often they are perfectionistic standards assumed to reward us with social approval or other success markers. If an individual doesn’t meet his/her (unconscious) standard, feelings of inadequacy or failure may arise.

You can think of the following formula:

"I must do X in order to achieve positive Y"


"If X does not happen, that means negative Z".

(In some ways must-urbations are strong implicit assumptions, but I simply love the word-play)

Many of us hold such must-urbations in the context of our romantic relationships.

Maybe you recognise some of the following for yourself:

- "We must be in touch every day in order to be considered girlfriend/boyfriend"

- "We must have sex every week in order to have a good relationship"

- "We must have long term plans with each other in order to be partners"

- "..."

Flipped around, it might go something like:

- "If we don´t talk every day, it means we are not really committed to one another"

- "If we haven´t had sex in 3 weeks, it means something must be wrong"

- "If we don´t picture ourselves sharing one household, it means we should rather break up now"

Relationship Must-urbation #1: 'daily, domestic, sexual, exclusive and forever"

Though our individual definitions may differ slightly, on the societal level there are still strong beliefs about what constitutes a romantic relationship. As Daphne Rose Kingma points out in her book “The Future of Love”, “real partners” are expected to interact daily, cohabitate, have sex with one another only and strive for the relationship lasting forever.

Ask yourself:

Do you have to be in touch with your loved one every day?

Do you actually want to live together?

What if you become less sexual with one another - does it mean you gotta break up?

What about having sex with others?

Are you hoping this connection will last till you grow old?

Maybe you feel different about what is important in a relationship.

If you would like to question your own must-urbations and think about how you can "love outside the box", book a free consultation here.

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