One person can’t be an individual’s sole source of joy, pleasure, excitement, comfort, reassurance, friendship, or love. That’s why we have family. Friends. Colleagues. When we put too much pressure on another person to be our everything, we not only push them away, but we set them up for failure, and ourselves for disappointment.
This doesn’t mean we need to lower our standards. We can—and should—have respectable standards for what our lovers should bring to the table. We should receive what we dish out: a healthy dose of love, recognition, and respect.
But how do we prevent ourselves from confusing our standards with our expectations? How do we mitigate patterns of astronomical expectations with reasonable ones, without feeling like we’re settling? We let relationship coach and expert and author of The Dang Factor, Michelle Afont, take this one.
“Keeping it ‘real’ in love means recognizing there is no perfect partner for us. Holding out for our prince to sweep us off our feet is exactly why many of us remain single throughout our lifetime. Expecting our mate to check off every box on a long list of ‘must-haves’ is where any potential relationship will crash and burn on takeoff,” Afont starts.
Yikes. If you’re biting your fingernails reading this, stay tuned. Being picky is different from being unreasonable. Here are some pointers to consider from the expert.
“Your relationship equation should follow the 80/20 Rule. It’s a theory that says, in a healthy relationship, you should be getting approximately 80% of the qualities you want in a partner. That is, your partner is giving you 80% of what you desire in a relationship, and 80% of the time, you are happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. Conversely, 20% of the time, you find yourself annoyed, uninterested, and turned off. And that’s OK.”
And in regards to that “20%,” Afont doesn’t mean malicious, conniving, or abusive. That’s entering different territory, and we strongly suggest you speak with a professional if you’re not sure about what to do in those cases.
“Be careful about ending a relationship with only a 20% jerk. The 100% perfect partner does not exist. Trust me, the next partner you meet will also come with 20% of him/her that will drive you nuts, too,” Afont warns.
“The 80/20 Rule only comes into play when you have an underlying attraction and genuine feelings for your partner. It does not matter how the math adds up if you feel nothing for your partner. However, if at one time you did feel immense attraction, I believe you can get back to where you started as a couple, by focusing on the 80% of the relationship that is wonderful.”
Challenges should move toward growth
“Your relationship is going to have bumps. Ups and downs are a reality in any relationship, and it’s important to not run at the first sign of trouble. Relationship challenges can serve to strengthen you as a couple. Let yourself know you are not going to get along and agree all of the time. Relationship challenges are good, as long as they are accompanied by change and growth.”
Check in on your own offerings
“Realistic expectations in a relationship also include a reality check on you. It is important to be realistic about what you are looking for in a partner while at the same time asking yourself what you bring to the relationship table. Having a partner with similar socioeconomic, educational, and life status makes the relationship an even playing field and one where you both bring equal parts of good to the union. If your partner is growing and learning in the relationship, it is vital that you continue to grow as well. Having differences in a relationship is good; however, common goals and interests should be part of your relationship reality.”
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