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!
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.
- Let’s Stop Looking For “The One” (thoughtcatalog.com)
- The Myth of the Strong Silent Type (or Never Date Someone Who Is Emotionally Unavailable) (scott-williams.ca)