The challenges of life are best approached with a perspective of balance. Reasonable expectations make it much easier to navigate the lows and enjoy the highs while pursuing whatever it is you want in life.
Unfortunately, love and relationships are areas where people tend to think in glamorous, romanticized ways that do not reflect reality well. Perceptions are easily tainted by movies, media, social media, and the opinions of others.
Social media is exceptionally bad at fostering unrealistic expectations for a relationship. People tend to only share their bright moments when things are going well – parties, anniversaries, and vacations.
What they don’t typically share are the rougher parts of relationships and love; the times when their significant other is driving them to the brink of insanity, when they may be questioning whether or not they made the right choice and if they were ever compatible in the first place.
The good news is that you can temper your expectations before getting into a relationship and increase your chances of success! Expectations such as…
1. I’ll know my perfect partner when I see them.
Most people have some mental image of who they think the person they will spend their life with will be.
These people quickly find out that a mental image does not typically align with reality and who the person is.
People waste their time creating this fictional person in their head, this perfect love that is just going to get them, where everything is going to come together and work out in the end.
Unfortunately, that’s not how any of this works.
The person you love, and who loves you, may not be anything like you imagined. Furthermore, they may not treat you or love you in the way that you thought you’d want. They may also treat you or love you in positive ways that you never imagined. One must remain open to the possibilities.
2. This relationship will solve all my problems.
Far too many people think that a relationship will solve whatever problems they are facing in life, particularly if they are depressed and lonely.
The problem is that it creates an overbearing relationship where a person ends up trying to shoulder part of their partner’s emotional baggage, which can breed resentment and anger.
A relationship will not clear up or fix emotional baggage. It only adds to it.
A better approach is to work on fixing whatever challenges and problems you have with yourself, which can be a difficult thing to do and may require a counselor.
Happy relationships come from two partners who are happy with themselves, who choose to be happy with one another. Happy is the key word. It’s perfectly possible to miserably coexist with another person for the rest of your life, if that’s what you really want to do.
3. My relationship should look like everyone else’s.
Why do you want a relationship? What exactly are you looking for?
Some people are seeking happiness, trying to alleviate loneliness, or just think it’s what they should be doing next with their life because that’s just what people do.
Don’t let other people define what a happy, successful relationship looks like for you. Every couple is different. They all have their own quirks and nuances that make them unique.
If you try to hold your relationship up to the standards of others, you are always going to find yourself lacking.
Again, it’s a matter of perception. Most people do not put the negativity and challenges they face on display for the world to see. They deal with those things behind closed doors while showing only the positive things.
You do not want to be comparing your total experience to another person’s highlight reel.
4. I will not have to make sacrifices if the relationship is right.
Sacrifice and compromise are imperative in a healthy relationship. You’re not always going to get to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, how you want to do it.
It’s unreasonable to expect anyone else to bend to every wish and whim of their partner. Yet, people often expect to be catered for in a way that is unreasonable to both members of the relationship.
The truth of the matter is that someone who loves you, while having their own wants and needs, should be willing to look for a middle ground where the both of you can be comfortable.
The best relationships follow a 60/40 rule, where both partners are trying to give 60% to the relationship. There are some days when you’ll sacrifice for your partner; there are others where they will sacrifice for you. This is normal and healthy when both parties are contributing.
5. Real love is just like it is in the movies.
Movies and stories are created by people for entertainment. They have a definitive arc to them where they start, peak, and eventually end.
And when do they typically end? In romance movies, it’s often on the highest note after the protagonists have faced some daunting challenge and managed to overcome it. Pure catnip for the hopeless romantic.
Real life romances do not follow a dominant arc to a single conclusion. Real romances have highs and lows, like everything else in life.
Sometimes things are sunshine and rainbows, other times the storm clouds roll in and blacken the skies. There aren’t always clear and definitive stories, nor are there definitive beginnings and endings. Sometimes things just blend together as time goes on.
A person is not going to change who they are at their core without some powerful influence impacting them and shaking them deeply. It just doesn’t happen. Yet, people still think that they can change who their partner is at a fundamental level.
Never expect someone to change for you, and don’t change who you are to make someone else happy. Even if they do, eventually that person will grow to resent you for it and the relationship will crumble to pieces further down the road.
Does that mean that people don’t ever change? Not at all. We can facilitate change through encouragement and inspiration, holding the people around us to a standard we expect for ourselves.
Far too many people let themselves be treated like doormats because of what they perceive to be love, but it’s not. Love does not tear down and destroy. It nurtures and builds.
7. True love can overcome all things.
One of the harshest lessons of life is to learn that love is not enough to make for a happy, lasting, loving relationship.
A person can have all of the feelings in the world for a potential partner, but it doesn’t mean that person will reciprocate those feelings.
It also doesn’t mean that the person’s life will align or mesh well with yours. Things like careers, children, and life trajectory can make a pair of lives incompatible in romantic terms.
The ability to let go of things that aren’t right or meant for you is an important skill to develop in life. Sometimes, people come into our lives to make an impact and adjust our course, but they aren’t meant to be there forever.
The good news is that there are a lot of amazing, interesting, wonderful people out there who would be happy to share love with you.
It can just take some time to find them. The best way to spend that time is by working on building yourself into a happy, healthy, loving person of your own.