One thing I noticed this week is how many people, whether single or married, divorced or widowed, have unrealistic ideas and expectations about relationships that keep them from fully being present with the reality of life. Here is what I heard this week:
FANTASY #1: “Another relationship will be so much better than the one I’ve got.”
When we first get into a relationship, we see more of the positive side than the negative side because we are infatuated. We may have strong chemistry, and feel that the relationship is destined to last. However, no matter how great a relationship is when you start, it is just a matter of time until you see the other side of the person.
If you are think you would rather be in another relationship because your current relationship is stagnant or challenging, remember, that in the long term, you will experience the other side of this “relationship.” While a new relationship may potentially end up being one that better suits you, there is no guarantee that it will be better than the one you have.
FANTASY #2: “I need a soul mate in order to feel complete.”
People who are single, often have a fantasy that having a soul mate in the form of a love relationship will “complete” them. Thinking this way will only lead to heartbreak. If this is you, the illusions that you project onto someone when they come into your life will eventually get shattered when they do things that don’t match what your ideal of what a soul mate is. I think a soul mate can be one person or several people, but they come into your life to complement you and help you to find your own completeness, rather than be the ones that complete you.
FANTASY #3: “If I had someone in my life, I wouldn’t be so lonely.”
I hear this all the time, and like to talk about loneliness in terms of it being a function of how you perceive yourself relative to your environment. Have you ever noticed that you can be right next to someone yet feel a thousand miles away, or be a thousand miles away from someone and feel as if they are close?
If you think that you wouldn’t be as lonely if you had someone in your life, you have a fantasy about what a relationship will bring and while at times you may feel more connected with some one there, there are also times where you may experience loneliness and perhaps even greater degrees than you do now.
COMMON MYTH: “If you want a good relationship, you have to sacrifice.”
I wanted to close with something I don’t hear as often any more, but still think it’s worth addressing. Whenever we see what we do as a sacrifice by doing something we do not want to do, or see no benefit in doing the things we do for others, we become resentful. This resentment may be felt right away, or sometime it isn’t felt initially but builds up over the years. It is not healthy and can lead to a poor relationship rather than a good one.
If there are things you are doing as a “sacrifice” in a relationship ask yourself how you are benefitting by taking that action. Are you saving hassles by not speaking up? Are you honoring your culture and praising yourself for doing what’s right? What are you gaining? If you can’t find the gain, you will eventually feel the drain.