Why your partner won’t measure up (and why that’s ok)
For most of recorded history, people married for logical reasons: because it made sense economically to our families, or because it would help business or trade, or even survival! We very rarely marry for these reasons anymore, with most of us being much more drawn to the freedom of choosing our own partner, and the concepts of romance, falling in love, intuition and ‘knowing’ when someone is ‘right’ for us.
Romanticism killed relationships
The romanticism movement has been unhelpful to us, as it has set us up to view our partnerships as an endless ride of hedonistic pursuits and when it isn’t, we regard it as unexceptional and problem ridden. We often, therefore, end up lonely in our relationships, convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not the ‘right’ union for us- and we then make efforts to ‘fix’ it, or stay but feel deterred by it, or leave it all together.
We hope that the person we fell in love with, the person we did not know everything about, and that was a particular way when we met or married them will be our everything: will be our lover, our friend, our confidant, our business mentor and our taxi driver. We expect that they will never change (if they were wonderful to start with) or definitely change (if that is what you deem is required), we hope that they will measure up to our expectations of them and the union, and when they don’t, we are bitterly disappointed. What we should instead do is adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kind perspective, knowing that our partner will never measure up, and that that’s ok.
Why your partner wont measure up
1) We all put our best foot forward when we date:
When we are dating, we are looking for similarities with future mates, we are seeking to be liked, to like, and to not show ‘too much’ of our true selves for fear of disapproval. Although it is fundamentally human to do this, I would urge all of you (dating or in a relationship) to show as much of your ‘crazy’ as possible. This can be difficult, and vulnerability inducing, but it will save you much time and heartache in the long run.
2) We rarely delve into our complexities before we settle down with someone:
Whenever relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we often feel threatened, insecure and fearful, and resort to either hiding them or running away. Become comfortable with your insecurities, your past, who you are and aren’t (this might be helpful to do with a psychologist), and work through this stuff before you get into a relationship, so that you don’t feel the need to ‘mask’ who you are when you are in one. This also helps when looking for a partner, as you will be looking for another ‘whole’ person, and not someone to ‘fix you/fulfil you/be your everything’.
3) Expectorations vs reality,
Specifically that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy your every yearning.
This is something I hear too often, and sets couples up for disaster. Your relationship is an addition to a beautiful life, filled with friends, hobbies, family, work and all of the wonders that we call living. Putting pressure on your partner to fulfil you in every sense is not fair on you or them.
Written by Rajna Bogdanovic
Clinical Psychologist – Clinical Psychology BPsychology/Education (Hons), MPsych(Clin) MAPS
Rajna is a clinical psychologist whose enthusiasm and passion for supporting people has led her to working with children, adolescents and adults across multiple contexts.
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