Does The Ideal Relationship Partner Exist?
As a little girl who loved romance movies and chick-flicks, I always fantasized about my first relationship. In my mind, I had conjured up a checklist of things that I wanted my partner to be. Smart, handsome, funny, plays an instrument—that kind of stuff. But, when I entered my first relationship at the age of 16, and everything I knew about love came from fictional characters, it was hard not to have unrealistic expectations of my partner.
Simply put, it was an absolute disaster.
It’s funny now to look back and think about how naive I was. But, back then, I really believed that there was someone out there who would fit perfectly in the mould that I had created in my head. From my past experiences, I’ve learnt one thing for sure.
And that is, the ideal relationship partner does not exist.
The main reason is that a relationship takes more than just two people loving each other. Why do couples break up and marriages end in divorce? Because the moment the spark is gone, the effort is gone. Relationships are hard work. And love isn’t something that’s just there; it’s something you have to work for, to make it and keep it.
Take what I say next with a grain of salt as these are purely based on my own experiences:
1. The relationship spark fizzles out.
When you first meet someone, everything is fun and exciting. There’s the fluttering feeling in your stomach when you learn new things about this person and create new memories together. As you become familiar with each other, romantic date nights turn into lounging on the couch in your pyjamas, and you no longer care about what you look like in front of this person. I personally think it’s great to reach that level of familiarity with someone. But I can’t deny that there were times when I missed that fluttering feeling as my relationship got past the honeymoon stage. When that happened, it was easy to feel like it was my partner’s fault for losing interest or not putting in any effort. But looking back, I realized that that’s not necessarily true. A relationship is a two-way street. Chances are that I wasn’t putting in enough initiative as well.
2. Don’t expect too much from your partner.
Over the years, I’ve learned to lower my expectations, whether it be for a job interview or a test result. And so far, it has really helped me avoid feeling too disappointed when the reality doesn’t meet my expectations. The same logic applies to your partner. When we place high expectations on our partner without voicing them out, we’re highly likely to end up disappointed.
The expectations we tend to have are highly dependent on our love language. If you don’t already know, your love language is how you would express love to anyone you feel affection for. (There’s a test you can take for free online to find out your love language!) We tend to assume that our partner should know what we want. But how will our partners ever know what we want if we don’t tell them? I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time again but it must be said: Your partner can’t read your mind. In fact, no one can. And no amount of time you spend with someone can make that possible.
That’s why I believe understanding your own and your partner’s love language is so important in a relationship because it determines the kind of expectations you’ll have of each other. Everyone’s love language is different. The way you express love is unlikely to be the same as your partner’s. To take a case in point, you could be someone who highly values quality time and you feel loved when you both spend time together. On the other hand, your partner doesn’t always need to be physically present with you to feel loved. But that does not indicate anything negative about your relationship; it’s simply a matter of differences.
3. Accept your partner’s flaws.
I have heard from so many people in relationships who have tried to change something that they disliked about their partner but to no avail.
It comes to no one’s surprise that changing someone is basically impossible. Ever heard the saying, old habits die hard. Well, it cannot be more true. It is impossible to love every single thing about your partner or find someone who checks off all the boxes.
The only thing we can do is to learn to accept our partner’s flaws, even if they may drive you insane. Which, of course, is always easier said than done. This is not to say that you should be tolerant of any unhealthy behaviour, but rather that it’s more important for both parties to let go of their ego and come to a compromise.
4. Communication is key.
Communication is so important for a healthy relationship. Being open with your partner instead of suppressing your feelings, no matter how small you think they are, will go a long way.
The rule of thumb: never speak out when you are feeling emotional.
Give each other time apart to calm down, and to just sit with your thoughts before you reconvene and have a rational conversation. Often you may feel compelled to give your side of the story but make sure you actively listen to what your partner has to say too. What that means is to listen and withhold advice or judgment. You’ll be surprised at how much you miss out. Acknowledge what your partner is saying, clarify what you think they’re saying, and let them correct you if you are wrong. Never assume, particularly when it comes to approaching topics about family planning or financial spending, you want to make sure you’re both on the same page before rushing into any decision.
As I’ve said earlier, a relationship is a two-way street; both you and your partner have to be open to hearing things that you may not always like to hear and willing to have a discussion about it.
5. Love is not a feeling, but a commitment.
There comes a point when you’ll have to ask yourself where your relationship is going; are you in it for the long run? Are you willing to put in the effort for this person?
Of course, having feelings for this person is essential for a relationship but realistically, feelings alone will not maintain your relationship, it’s hard work that will. If you’re not in the right time and place in your life to truly commit yourself to a relationship, you might have to think twice about getting into one.
At the end of the day, there’s no right answer when it comes to love. A relationship is ultimately what you make it to be. But I implore you not to chase for that perfect relationship. Because regardless of whether or not your ideal relationship partner exists, it boils down to one thing – the continuous effort to make it work.