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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

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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 January 6, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1]University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2]Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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