Be honest. Do you feel like you have no control over whether your relationship soars or bottoms out? Do you think that cupid is in charge of your relationship’s happiness?
If so, you’re not alone.
The Destiny Theory of Relationship is characterized by the belief that relationships are either meant to be or doomed from the start. The problem with this theory, as the following relationship graph from Riskology.co shows, is that the results are rarely happily ever after.
The destiny theory looks more like a roller coaster than happily ever after. Here are a few clues that you may be at this end of the spectrum:
- You are looking for the perfect mate. Your friends have heard you say, “They’re perfect for me!” — likely on more than one occasion and, often, just before a dramatic end to the relationship.
- You’re far more likely to say “They weren’t right for me,” than you are to say “We couldn’t make it work.”
- You fall for people quickly and passionately, moving from the first date to planning your life together in a short time.
- You will see any conflict as proof that you’re not right for each other. Even normal, relatively minor conflicts will cause you to rethink the relationship.
- You’re hot and cold. Either they are “all in” with you, or they’re out.
Here are a few lessons that explain why the people who live by the destiny theory often struggle to maintain healthy relationships.
You need to embrace the struggle
Destiny theorists are quick to think problems that arise are because they weren’t meant to be together in the first place, so they don’t look at what actually caused the problem.
The truth is that life comes with circumstances. Even Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble.” It stands to reason that, even in the very best relationships, you will have troubles. If you believe the destiny theory, though, you’ll take the normal challenges that are meant to strengthen your relationship and use them as a reason to trash it.
Your struggles are meant to pull you together as a couple and grow you as a person. As Eric Thomas, former professional football player, said, “You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Get a reward from it.”
To paraphrase, if you’re going to have trouble anyway, you might as well get a payoff in the form of a better relationship on the other side.
If you let the weeds grow, the flowers can’t
People who believe relationships are based on destiny don’t feel the need for self-examination. And why would they? There is no need to look at their own behavior if the relationship just wasn’t meant to be.
The real downside to this belief is that, often, destiny theorists are their own worst enemies.
Everyone has room for improvement. We all have “behavior weeds” in our relationship gardens. If you don’t look at your own actions when things go wrong, you can never get better. If you look honestly at yourself, you can pull the weeds from your own garden and give a decent relationship room to become great.
No one marries the right person
People who hold the destiny theory often hold their partners to an unrealistic standard. They aren’t able to see that everyone has good and bad in them. Even the “perfect mate” is going to drive you nuts at times, but that doesn’t mean you should quit.
There will never be someone who is perfect for you. Or me. We have to work at becoming the right people together. Very often, the way we learned to deal with conflict while growing up contributes to our believing in destiny.
But there is beauty in the words “growing up.” We don’t have to stop growing just because we’re adults. In fact, if you’re tired of Destiny Theory relationships that don’t last, crashing and burning as passionately as they started, there is an alternative theory that is based on just that: growth.
Thanks again to Riskology.co for providing us with a graph showing how relationships work if you hold the Growth Belief. With a growth belief, you know that great relationships take work. Check it out:
While there’s no relationship guarantee in life, it’s obvious when you compare the two graphs that one way of thinking creates far more successful relationships than the other.
Growth: Beauty and the beast
What people who believe in destiny don’t know is that, though growth is hard, it’s so worth it.
Growth takes a willingness to be objective when all you want to do is fall madly, senselessly in love. It means you have to own up to your feelings when your partner disappoints you and communicate when you have disagreements. And, perhaps the hardest part, it requires the humility to own up to your part in the problems you face as a couple.
The results of self examination, better relationship skills, and putting childish ways of dealing with life away can make the difference between heartbreak and silver wedding anniversaries.
It won’t happen overnight and there’s no magic pill. But, it’s not a matter of luck or destiny either. You have a huge amount of control over how your relationship flourishes or wilts. Use it to grow a beautiful garden for years to come.
Featured photo credit: Eric’s Proposal to His Girlfriend/ via flickr.com