Desiring a “perfect” relationship is dangerous and often lands us in toxic situations, leads to disappointments, and can result in affairs. All because of the fantasies we build around our romantic expectations.
I’ve been there. I’ve felt the rush of butterflies that arrive in the honeymoon phase, providing a false sense that the relationship will always be perfect.
Earlier this year, I married my partner of over five years. Our relationship is a happy and healthy one. We communicate openly, have an absolute blast together, and always keep ourselves from getting to the point of feeling burnt out and exhausted.
However, to get to this point and cultivate and build this life, I had to let go of the relationship fantasies I had carried for so long.
Here is what I changed to begin moving on from what was unrealistic and to accept what was actually possible.
Your partner can’t be everything at once; an intimate relationship is different from a friendship.
People often comment that their partner is their best friend. Do I consider my husband my best friend? Yes. Do I treat him the same as my other best “friends?” No.
Friendships and relationships are different. Are there times when my husband and I get to have “adult sleepovers” and fun? All of the time.
However, it is essential to make the distinction and identify why these relationships are different.
Best friends are the people you share a glass of wine with, go out to dinner and a movie, or perhaps go on a long, fun weekend together. A lifetime partner is getting down and dirty with you in the trenches of life. There will be finances and difficult decisions you’ll have to make about the future. There will be moments that are not fun because it is not a fantasy.
The honeymoon stage shouldn’t be the only phase ever experienced.
Throughout my young adult years, there was a dating pattern that began to emerge. For the first six months of the relationship, it was perfect. Then, as we began to creep toward the one-year mark, my rose-colored glasses would fade.
Excitement drained, boredom crept in, and I would find someone new even though it wasn’t healthy. The new boyfriend was a shiny new toy meant to distract me from more significant problems, and the cycle would continue.
The honeymoon phase can be addicting, but the truth is that I wanted to stay in that phase because it wasn’t real. Being vulnerable was not required, and it was always fun and light-hearted.
The man I ended up marrying was complex. He immediately cut to my core and saw everything I had been hiding. We experienced life events together, some beautiful, others tragic, and as time passed, I realized I didn’t even notice if the honeymoon stage had ended. It had evolved into something different and more beautiful, a security and intimacy that only came long-term.
Identify which needs are realistic and which ones are silly wish-list items.
The men I dated before my husband had an array of personalities. Some were free-spirited, others emotional, and others were anxious and incredibly controlling/abusive.
When I was younger, I followed “my heart” regarding dating. The truth is that I had no idea what I wanted and absolutely no boundaries, so “my heart” led me into some precarious and downright toxic situations.
One day shortly after a particularly horrific relationship, I stumbled across a magazine article about a woman that had written down what she wanted in a partner. It sounded so simple, but I did it, stuck to it, and met the man I married three months later.
However, I recommend being realistic about your requirements. Asking for someone built like Chris Hemsworth or a millionaire is most likely unrealistic.
For years I lived in a fantasy world where I believed my relationship had the power to save me from everything. My dating life was built on something that wasn’t real, and time and time again, I ended up disappointed and disillusioned.
I would bet that most, if not all, of us are guilty of setting ourselves up for failure and unrealistic expectations for our partners based on complete fantasy.
Expecting someone to complete us and constantly be perfect isn’t sustainable or realistic. However, asking/requiring a life partner that is reliable, kind, hardworking, and adventurous? Having that fantasy/expectation is entirely doable.