About a third of my clients are companies working on employee and management issues. Another third would be individuals dealing with depression, stress, an addiction, or some are looking for career or life counselling. The final third would be couples. Some are couples that are essentially broken up and they’re wondering if they can maybe make it work again. Some are thinking about breaking up and aren’t sure. Some start as a single then turn into a couple. Some come as couples right from the start. And when they come, they talk in a very in-depth about their relationships.
Because there are only so many ways of being there are also only so many ways in which two people can mix. There are only so many fundamental routes for a relationship to take. So after a time you start to see very strong patterns in peoples life experiences.
Almost all of relationships I work on have the problem of perfection. Expectations are too high. People say they don’t need their partner to be perfect, but then a minute later they’ll angrily yell at that same partner about how they’re not doing something the same way they would. This is often referred to as “the right way.”
Perfect relationships aren’t about two perfect people. They’re about two Human Beings sharing a perfect understanding that they want their partner to be no one but themselves. Anything else is to request that they live an otherwise unnecessarily stressed existence. Sure, maybe for a dinner with your parents here or there—but no one wants to live that way full time. If you love someone you love them as they are—not with conditions.
In a way I’m not surprised to see this blog in the number nine spot on the countdown. It’s a popular subject with a lot of people. Hopefully it’s popularity also points to its usefulness. You can find out for yourself when you read the 9th Most Popular Blog of the Year:
Movies books and fairy tales have everyone imagining romantic love in a completely unrealistic way. Sure, in a film Prince Charming can appear to meet all of a woman’s desires, but let’s face it—those desires are pretty lame when it comes to picking an actual partner. You can’t really marry rich, and you can’t marry handsome. Those are things that affect what you look at and touch etc., but your experience of being with someone comes from how they treat you, and that’s always motivated by how much they value your perspective. So the point isn’t whether the Prince lives in the castle or has a nice horse, it’s whether he’s got a good sense of humour, or if he can find a way to enjoy going shopping with you, or if he’ll massage your back—even when you’re bitchy . Those are the qualities that actually affect your life. Not what someone wears, or drives or does for a living.
Can you see how different you are with your friendships? You don’t have qualifications like that. And you don’t look for promises or commitments. No one needed to buy a ring or any other gift to hold you. You were held by your own interest. And so it should be with our romantic partners too. Our partners should be people who are completely free to go wherever they choose and they choose to be around us because that is their favourite place. It might not always be their favourite place, but out of the seven billion people on the planet, if they’re choosing to spend their time with you—that’s the real commitment. The commitment of choice.
Since nature generally motivates our initial attractions we can usually spot the major reasons why we’re with someone. Maybe our family was very serious and stern and our partner is good at being lighthearted. Maybe our family was very disorganized and our partner always has everything carefully planned. Maybe our family had no sense of creativity but our partner is spontaneous and artistic. There will be reasons we find people attractive. We should keep in touch with those attractions lest we take them for granted. Because if we do that we are unwittingly moving toward perfection, which is as unattainable for our partner as it is for ourselves.
Do not expect perfection from your partner. The question is only: when you are calm and content, is that the person you would most often choose to be with? If the answer to that is most often “yes,” then simply be with them when you both feel that way, and give each other space when you don’t. It is entirely natural to need the input of different kinds of human beings in our lives. We can’t be all things to all people nor can they expect us to fulfil all of their needs. Again, the relationship must be a choice, not a expectation, obligation, or demand.
If your relationship is floundering and you value it then there is only one response. Go back to having fun. Go back to being yourself. That’s who attracted your partner in the first place. Maybe they’ve changed and are looking for something else, but you can’t do anything about that—you’re you. You can’t become someone else for someone else. They are either fundamentally attracted or they’re not. So in the end the only thing that makes a relationship worthwhile is the fact that it’s voluntary.
Forget perfection. Instead of complaints, consider appreciation and acceptance. Because if you keep complaining about the same things in your partner, that’s a sure sign that a major part of the issue is with you and not with them. Meaning either you should leave, or you should accept that the person you’re with includes the quality you keep complaining about. Either accept it or leave. That’s the only choice. Their job isn’t to change into who you want them to be. Their job is to simply be themselves so they can be identified by the people that will naturally love them in an unconditional way. And the very same goes for you
People aren’t right for you or wrong for you. It’s not the people, it’s the behaviour. So pay less attention to how rich, beautiful or sexy some one is and start caring about whether or not they’re rich in character, beautiful in spirit, and sexy because they truly care about you. And after that, the only thing you have to remember is that relationships are two way streets. So don’t start telling other people to change or they’ll get out their list for you. Better that you just love each other as you are, imperfections and all.
Enjoy your day by enjoying the people in it. That choice is always yours.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.