The Weight of Expectations on your Partnership
Jan 03, 2020
With the drastic shift in the stability of relationships over the last 100 years or so, many are left wondering what factors have caused the institution of marriage to crumble at a steady rate of 50%? And furthermore, of those marriages that did stay together, what is the cause for so much disappointment in the relationships that do last?
In my studies, research and life experience I have seen many, many factors that contribute to the demise of or the dissatisfaction in relationships. And, there is one specific factor that I see present almost everywhere, which I am going to speak to today.
Here’s something I hear frequently from clients and friends in my life: He’s great. He’s attentive and so caring. He’s got a solid job that he is passionate about and can support me when I need him. The sex….is amazing. And he’s so gentle and explorative leading up to it! Our chemistry is undeniable and I enjoy our conversations. BUT, there’s just one thing. [insert one thing here]
The “BUT” may take the form of something like:
~He’s not very good at talking about his emotions
~He’s good at listening but not very good at motivating me when I’m stuck
~We’re not exact intellectual equals
~He travels for work sometimes
~ He doesn't like all the same activities I do
~Once or twice a week he chooses to hang out with the guys instead of me
~We don’t love all the same music
Do you see what I see? Here is what sounds like a perfectly eligible partner who has very many positive qualities about him. Yet, because there is one or two things missing from the perceived “perfect package”, the partner engaging in relationship with this person already feels unfulfilled and dissatisfied. Often times, she feels dissatisfied in ANTICIPATION for how the relationship will let her down, before she’s even explored it.
The institution of marriage and relationship has shifted dramatically in the last 100 years or so. Marriage used to be an institution of economics, family and social class. Procreation and family-bearing were the main goals of the family unit and marriage, followed by maintaining economic and social status.
The institution of intimate relationships shifted greatly when women were finally given a choice to choose if they wanted to stay in the relationship or not. For thousands of years, women were dependent on the male breadwinning and protective partners to support themselves and their children, so leaving was not an option. As women's rights began to emerge, the woman was armed with a whole new freedom: she could work now, which means she could support herself and her family, which means she could leave her marriage if she wanted to.
Often times marriages were arranged (sometimes upon the birth of a child, their union was decided and arranged) and executed without any word of preference from the two engaged parties. Marriage and Relationship WAS NOT about love, desire, passion, intellectual equals, fulfillment, or partnership. Again, marriage had a much more practical role back then, And, without the weight of all these “boxes to check”, marriages were more commonly lasting a lot longer back then then they are today.
Now, do I think that we should go back to arranged marriages with little to no expectations for love or fulfillment? I do not. I reckon that although marriages did last longer back then, that most people in them were not highly fulfilled, passionate or happy about their marriage. Generally, I support the direction that long-term relationships have begun to move over the last 100 years.
And, I recognize that today, most of us are asking our partners or our ideal future partners for SO MANY THINGS. Like, so many things. Sometimes, when my friends are reading me their ‘checklist’ for new potential romantic prospects in their life, I literally cringe under the perceived pressure.
Today, most of us want from a SINGLE person:
Open and vulnerable communication
Radical Honesty (No Secrets)
Someone who shares our dreams and values
Someone who motivates and inspires us
Someone who challenges and pushes us
ARE YOU EXHAUSTED, FRIGHTENED, OR RUNNING FOR THE HILLS YET?
Are you feeling anxious under the weight of all this pressure?
THIS, is what I believe is happening to our relationships on a massive scale. Good people are CRUMBLING under the endless list of expectations and pressures that are laid on the romantic partnership today.
And on the other end - good people are letting other wonderful people fly by because they’re really great in all these ways but they are not checking EVERY box of mine.
As Esther Perrell so beautifully explains, “We are asking a single person to be what once an entire village used to provide.”
So, is it possible to have these idealistic, check-every-box kind of relationships that so many seek out today?
I cannot answer that question with certainty. Although this is what I can say: We are all imperfect, flawed, human beings doing the best we can on this Earth each and every day. To expect someone someone to check a long list of boxes, to me, is almost a mechanism for guaranteeing you will never be in a thriving long-term partnership (maybe there’s an element of self sabotage happening there?)
Also, I believe True Love to be the act of loving someones Light (positive qualities) AS MUCH as I love their Divine Darkness (shadow sides, parts of themselves that aren’t deemed positive qualities). So for me, I don’t desire a partner who “checks off every box” because that’s too easy, and I don’t see any potential for growth in that.
I know with absolute certainty that I GROW and DEVELOP into a more full and authentic ME every time I am challenged by my partner (by the way he is or the way he isn’t). My partner Warren has some of the qualities I desire in an intimate partnership, and if I were to make a list, he wouldn’t check every single box. And I am okay with that.
In the past, I held my partners up to a scrupulous list of expectations. It’s no wonder so many of them collapsed under the pressure, and I always felt dissatisfied. My expectations were unmatchable, so in a way I was ensuring that I could not be in a long-term relationship and be happy (self-sabotage linked to my own limiting beliefs around marriage).
Today, I find joy in the challenge and excitement of learning to love somebody AS THEY ARE, flaws and all. Your relationship is not a burger joint, where you can hold the pickles and onion. Nope. You’re romantic partner comes AS IS, and it is your job to learn to love them as they are. Rather than judging them and expecting them to change into you, and to live in your values. Let’s remember to appreciate our partners individual uniqueness, even though that means they differ from us sometimes.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas, or personal experiences. Let’s keep the conversation going!
And thank You so deeply, for being here, and taking your precious time to read.