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Believing in the Perfect Love Is the Greatest Relationship Killer

Believing in the Perfect Love Is the Greatest Relationship Killer

The perfect couples know everything about each other completely. They can read each other’s minds. They always agree with each other. They want exactly the same things in life. They want to do the same thing, all the time. And they never fight. This is the perfect couple who is always happy.

But that’s just a fantasy.

Expecting this to be your relationship is unrealistic. Even if you have held this idea in your mind for years, maybe you’ve already suspected that something is wrong with this image. Life is full of changes and challenges. Somehow, many couples – young and old – fall into the trap that there’s a “perfect relationship” out there.

The Downside of a Relationship Is Always Hidden

Why does everyone believe this? People tend to set unrealistic expectations for what their partners should be like. These magical ideas start when they are little kids.

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In fairy tales and animated Disney films, the prince saves the princess. They are soulmates, who know each other immediately and thoroughly. Their love stories are perfectly idealized. No fights and no challenges arise along the way. Romantic comedies are the same way. The couple always gets together at the peak of happiness, and then they live together happily ever after. Roll credits. You don’t get to see the aftermath: when the couple still loves each other, but they have to deal with disagreements and live through big challenges.

Parents also set perceptions of what makes a good partner. We have strongly ingrained cultural expectations of what a “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” “husband,” or “wife” should be like. That’s hard to shake! For example, your mother may have told you that “boys will be boys” – husbands tend to be cold and distant and therefore you should expect and accept that in your relationships. While that might save you trouble at the beginning, down the road, this complacent attitude can only build resentment and unhappiness.

People also compare their relationships to those of others all the time. That’s easier than ever to do with Facebook and Instagram. Your friends probably talk a lot about the “perfect” things that their partners do for them. People want to share the good in their lives, not the bad. But relationships on social media are filtered. All you see are the special date nights, the engagements, and the vacation photos. Nobody posts photos of their fights and loneliness. It’s important to remember that everyone has different relationship experiences. Comparison on this front is simply meaningless.

People Make Unrealistic Expectations to Create the Perfect Love

As a result of all these learned expectations, people want to mold their partners into their ideal version. But based on unrealistic expectations, they will make demands that just don’t work. And then, when the partner can’t meet their expectations, they demand more and more, thinking that it’s supposed to be “love” that makes their dreams come true.

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One common mistake that women and men make is that their partners can “read their minds” and meet their needs without saying anything. But this is not just uncommon, it’s impossible. Without realizing that this is an unrealistic expectation, they will constantly feel disappointed by their partners and conclude that they should keep seeking for the one that can best fit in a relationship.

It’s easy to think that “love” will solve all the problems. People attribute disappointment to “lack of love” or “we’re not really meant to be together.” These couples who think this way will then break up and move on to another relationship. And they’ll take the same behaviors with them.

They hope to find someone who can fit their mold. But what they don’t realize is that their expectations are just unrealistic. They will end up getting stuck in the same loop of relationships.

Make Your Relationship Down to Earth

A down-to-earth relationship doesn’t mean it’s not special. Everyone’s love story is unique because of both the upside and downside the couple experiences together. A realistic relationship can be healthy even though it’s not perfect. Try the following steps to make your love life happier.

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1. List out all of your expectations.

Write down each of your expectations, starting each sentence with “I expect him/her to…” You don’t need to justify any of your expectations. The point here is to be honest with yourself.

Examples: “I expect him to know that I’m sad even when I don’t tell him how I feel.” Or “I expect her to adjust to my schedule changes without ever getting upset.” Anything that’s honest and true should go on this list.

2. Review your list.

Now is the time to bring judgment back into the equation. Read through your list and cross out anything that you haven’t fulfilled yourself. For example, ask yourself: Is it actually realistic to ask your partner to hang out with you for hours every day, when he/she has a demanding job? Do you always hang out with him/her when you’re busy with work or school?

3. Switch the position with your partner and look at the list again.

Go through the list another time. Now, instead of asking if you can fulfill the expectations, think more carefully about whether he/she can. Just because you can live up to some expectations doesn’t mean your partner can, too. Maybe you’re an obsessive cleaner, but your partner only cleans once a week or so. Is it realistic to ask him/her to clean every day, or as often as you do?

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This will pare down your list even more, leaving only the truly reasonable expectations behind.

4. Spell out your expectations to your partner.

The best you can do is to explicitly state your expectations to your partner. Talk about challenges in meeting each other’s expectations. Then compromise and refine those expectations so that both of you can be happy.

Remember that fantasy of the perfect couple? It was never real and never will be. A realistic relationship is full of challenges and it takes compromises. Stop chasing for the perfect relationship. Unrealistic expectations on your partner sabotage not only your partner, but yourself and your relationship.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Eric Alves on Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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