Lies We Tell Ourselves #3 – He Is Perfect For Me. It Was Meant To Be!

Meant for Each OtherIt was written in the stars. He saw her from across the room and as their eyes met; he knew she was the only one for him, forever.

Doesn’t young romantic love make you want to puke?

In my Relationship Group there is always that one couple who tell us that they knew their relationship was ‘meant to be’, and that when they met they knew it was true love. This other person is the ‘one and only’.

Popular culture and movies are replete with references to the idea that your love was ‘meant to be.’ Just look at all the romantic comedies that are out there. You know the ones, the movies where Matthew McConaughey takes off his shirt. The movies about a young professional, trying to make it in the big city and she meets a guy who stumbles into her on the street. He’s annoying and you think she is going to marry the rich, stuck up guy but at the last moment he shows up at her wedding with flowers, just before she says, “I do.” As they rush out of the church you know that their love was meant to be. After all, when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true!

Nope.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in lust at first sight. I do not, however, buy into the idea that your special relationship was written in the stars. So why is this such a big deal? Why would anyone waste their time arguing about true love?

In counseling we call this a cognitive distortion. These are the distorted truths we tell ourselves in order to cope. So why is this belief a distortion?

Fast forward ten or twenty years and the wife is in counseling. She is frustrated because her marriage is not turning out the way it was ‘meant to be’. Prince Charming has turned out to be a dud, her sex life is routine and obligatory and every conversation they have seems to end in a fight. Where is the romance? Where is the passion?

Real relationships rarely turn out the way they do on television. Every relationship, no matter how steamy it started out, lessens in romantic intensity the longer you are together. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this. Hopefully your respect and trust in that other person will continue to grow and your romantic life will be fulfilling and enjoyable for both partners. I like to call this the real world.

In the land of media induced make-believe , however, romance is intense. You kiss like you are trying to rub your lips all over their face. His mere touch sends you into spasms of pre-orgasmic delight. For the rest of your life you are going to live with your soul mate and even though over half of relationships split up, yours is going to go the distance. Why? Because it was meant to be.

Most of us have grown up with this perception of true love. We believe that one day, some day, we will meet that perfect someone and they will feed our every dream. We will surely live ‘happily ever after’. Unfortunately this is often not the case. I often meet women (and men) who complain that their partner is not willing to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work. Now that they have a solid relationship it’s as if they quit trying and go on to the next adventure. When the relationship is struggling they refuse to go for counseling; they refuse to be embarrassed. Let me let you in on something; if your spouse is not willing to go to counseling to work on your marriage then that relationship is doomed. The same goes for living together.

Living with someone in a romantic relationship is extremely challenging and demands a ridiculous amount of hard work. No couple magically just gets along without putting in the effort, especially in heterosexual relationships. Men and women are practically different species and it requires a profound commitment to go the distance together. Believing this distortion sets people up for disappointment. That lady sitting in my office grew up to believe that she would meet Prince Charming. She imagined that her relationship would be special, incredible, unique and wonderful. As a young girl she didn’t dream of a guy who farts, picks his nose and scratches his crotch. While they were newly dating (and lying to each other) neither partner thought they would someday be yelling at this person of their dreams. The Princess Bride didn’t mention PMS or bad breath or grouchy husbands.

Time and again I run across people, often a female, who feel a deep sense of grief and disappointment about how their life is turning out. By the age of forty or forty-five they begin to ask themselves, “Is this as good as it gets?” This is in part because they dreamed of a fantasy that was not, could not, be real. Their unrealistic expectations have contributed to their frustration. The myth of ‘happily ever after’ sold them a myth that no partner, no matter how amazing, could hope to live up to.

A successful relationship is a ton of work by two very flawed people who are committed to lower their expectations and dedicate themselves, in spite of their partner’s glaring faults, to going on a journey together. Anything less is probably not going to make it.

14 thoughts on “Lies We Tell Ourselves #3 – He Is Perfect For Me. It Was Meant To Be!

  1. It’s funny you say that if you’re spouse is unwilling to do marriage counseling then the relationship is doomed. I always hear that if the relationship has gotten to the point of needing counseling it’s doomed. As to say a lot of times couples find out that they’ve become very different people and need to separate. I’m not saying this is true of every couple, of course. I’m also sure you’ve heard this, too.

  2. I really enjoyed this article. I think it’s so accurate that many of us suffer from idealization of a partner. I also think it’s absolutely true that these notions come from popular media. But, I also believe that men suffer from this common phenomenon, as well. Only, it’s in a different way.

    1. Oh…There is; BUT “everything” around us can cloud our vision. Look inward first, everything falls into place from there. Sounds like a riddle until you truly understand, i know. open your mind- question all that you are told- believe only what agrees with your OWN reason and your OWN common sense. Trust yourself regardless.

  3. I was married for 16 years and somewhere around the end of year one I decided that I was going to “fix” my ex-husband. He repeatedly told me that I was living in a fairy tale and to leave him alone. He told me that my expectations were much to high and that I would never be happy. We fought like paid prize fighters and our children paid the price. I have been effectively single for 7 years and have dated 2 men seriously in the interim. Oh the error of my ways. I cannot say that I have lowered my standards but I have relaxed my expectations. It took me a while to like myself enough to stop casting a critical eye on others in order to keep the focus off of my own shortcomings. The more happy and fulfilled I become with myself, the less I expect from the man in my life. Suddenly I am even able to envision a life of my own without a partner and that frees me to choose a better partner. How ironic. I have recently met someone with whom I connect and he is forecasting that we will be “perfect” together. It will be fun to show him my “true” self at every turn so that he has no false assumptions as to who I am while he is in his decision making mode. Thank you for your pointed article, it gave me food for thought about how to approach this new phase in my life. Namaste.

  4. “As a young girl she didn’t dream of a guy who farts, picks his nose and scratches his crotch.”

    How true is that!? Well, the whole article is! I’ve been living with my boyfriend for close to 2 years now. When he started farting, picking his nose and scratching his crotch, I was annoyed to say the least lol. My father NEVER did anything like that in front of our family so I guess I had ‘expectations’. That’s humanity, I guess?

    No one is perfect; although, you may believe them to be when you’re seriously infatuated. Infatuation is what gets you hooked; however, it’s how each person handles the relationship issues that truly determines if it will last or not.

    Great read!

  5. I actually don’t think you’re too flippant about topics like this that supposedly require a heavy, exhaustive, psychological approach. I appreciate the fact that you don’t use that kind of mumbo jumbo (for lack of better terminology). I’ve been separated for four months from someone who steadfastly refused to do anything to help our 11 year marriage, and then complicated matters by adding control and verbal abuse. The irony is that he was so into me when we dated that I got totally swept up in that yet I was the one who put the lion’s share of work into trying to save the sinking ship. Thanks for your straightforward perspective. It’s refreshing.

  6. First, I just want to say I am in awe of how prolific you are with the writing! Second, thank you! I so appreciate your candid, no holds barred approach which provides for a very succinct, precise and real perspective on relevant topics that touch our lives or the lives of those we care about. I so enjoy how you infuse humor and your personal experience into your posts to effectively drive your points home. Thank you for the information and for your unique approach. I look forward to the next posts.

    1. Wow, thanks very much. I also enjoy your writing. I am endeavouring to be pragmatic and real, as opposed to so clinical. I have actually been criticized for being too flippant with topics that require a heavy, exhaustive, psychological approach. I hope they said that because they just don’t get it. I’m tired of ‘experts’ lording over the average citizen as if they are smarter and real people wouldn’t get it.
      thanks again, this means a great deal to me.
      scott

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