The American way is to love a fairytale. Everything wrapped up in a beautiful bow with a happy ending + equal parts of sappy and cute on the way to the dreamy Ever After. I mean, who doesn’t visualize themselves as a Disney princess at one point in their life and measure every guy you’re with against a Prince Charming ideal?
The problem with this is, well, it’s fiction. Not to mention, it doesn’t prepare you for the bad and the ugly that comes with reality in relationships. It is supposed to be “in sickness and in health” not just sunny days and rainbows.
The main issues I have overcome in my love life have been setting realistic expectations for a partner, recognizing that some things simply have an expiration date without anything drastic happening to end it, and that forgiveness is imperative to move forward from any and all challenges.
Setting Realistic Expectations
Realistic expectations for me include eradicating your concept of the “perfect” partner - it doesn’t exist - all the while, accepting that there will be ebbs and flows to your relationship as you grow and change.
Another major issue is to compare anyone to the “goods” from previous relationships. Leave those in the past where they belong. Every single person and pair of people will coexist and relate to one another differently. You can’t expect a partner to bring with them all of the things you loved about past partners, and comparison is always a dangerous game.
If you feel like your expectations aren’t being met, sit down and discuss it openly, asking your partner to first listen and then talk through your feelings. I ask this of my clients as well; I encourage them to approach me when they think they are missing something in their healthy living program or in my services.
Not All Relationships Are Forever
A relationship doesn’t have to crash and burn to end. No one has to be purely at fault either. This is an issue for so many people because this can lead to the feeling like you don't have closure, that you could still work on things because it wasn’t “awful,” or there’s always that “what if” feeling and pull to stay for the good times.
Closure also shouldn’t come solely when you move on to the next person either. Mentally and emotionally wrap up the relationship and address and readdress the reasons why it ended. Ask yourself if there was more good than bad or indifferent. I did this with someone with whom I was happy with, but didn’t share the same view of the future with me and wasn’t as communicative as I’d like. I needed more emoting, I needed more of my love language. They were a great person, but not my person.
Forgiveness = Forever
If you can be in a relationship where you genuinely forgive your partner for things, you are ahead of the curve. Resentment and lack of closure when it comes to disagreements will fester and can destroy your respect for one another, will continually interrupt your physical and emotional connection, and can permanently damage your ability to effectively communicate with one another.
In my relationship, we may fight or disagree, and sometimes we say things we don’t mean, but, we always sit down and talk through it, hug and touch, listen and learn, then move on and thrive knowing that we communicated through it, not around it.