‘If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content’
(Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenia)
How do you know if your partner is the one? Do soul mates exist? Is it ridiculous to expect one person to ‘complete you’? We sometimes make life harder for ourselves by having unrealistic expectations of others that no one can live up to. In the age of self help books, online dating gurus, relationship blogs and various magazine articles we are bombarded with experts telling us what we should feel and when we should feel it. If we set the bar for our love lives at such a high level aren’t we setting up our relationships for failure?
We live in an age of unprecedented choice. We are all expected to strive for the perfect career, life and partner. Yet all of this choice comes with a price. If we fall short of making the best decisions in life we are made to feel that we have failed. Generations before relationships were such a pragmatic affair, you married the stable provider or the affable girl next door. Now it seems that people are paralysed by indecision, opting to flit in and out of relationships instead of deciding to commit to someone. At the end of the day that’s all that love is – a decision. You decide to allow someone into your life or to walk away.
The tools used to make that decision is very important. I have heard the strangest reasons given to explain why an individual ended a relationship. One friend told me that she hated the way that an ex boyfriend chewed their food. An acquaintance told me that although he really liked the woman he was dating that she wasn’t as glamorous as his previous girlfriends. He decided that he wasn’t comfortable being seen with her and let their relationship fizzle out. Attraction is important; it’s the magic ingredient which separates potential love matches from platonic friendships. That said people can allow really trivial things to thwart a solid relationship in the making. I really doubt that those who focus on the shallow and superficial are ready to experience a deep meaningful relationship.
I just want to reiterate that I am not in any way trying to champion settling or for making do with less than you deserve. However, as with anything in life there should be a clear distinction between the attributes/qualities which are deal breakers and those which can be lived without. Happier people are able to make that distinction. Personally, someone’s character, their moral/belief system, being family orientated would be deal breakers. Everything else can be worked around, work being the operative word. Anything worth having always requires effort. We have been indoctrinated by romantic films that love conquers all, with minimal effort. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this is not reality. We all come to any relationship with our past experiences, baggage, dreams and issues. It is our own personal responsibility to deal with this. It’s wonderful when we come across someone who inspires us to become better people but it’s the individual who has to do all the heavy lifting, resolving past issues and achieving various milestones. It is also for our own self preservation that we enter relationships as complete individuals. We leave ourselves in a perilous position when we expect others to make us totally happy. It is exhausting to be someone’s everything and cannot be sustained in the long term. It is also easier to manipulate someone who is desperate to be loved. Those with confidence will not stay in a relationship where their needs are not being met.
We should be glad that not only one person can make us happy. It makes the odds of finding love very favourable. Those who do hold on to this belief are set up to have unrealistic standards for themselves and others. There is no magic equation to love, even if someone were to tick every single box, there is still an element of risk. Love is the ability to care for others without fear or judgement. It requires courage as we have to let our defences down and be vulnerable. It is not always an easy process, it requires constant effort. All we can do is try our utmost to ensure that our relationships are worth the work needed. If two people can be kind, share similar values, be honest and authentic with each other, they have a shot. The search for perfection is just another barrier for those who are too scared to reveal who they really are. Let’s not continue to waste time chasing after an abstract ideal and celebrate our unique imperfections.
Please let me know your thoughts