Nowadays love relationships are difficult. They can have so many nuances and no longer follow a strict set of rules. From a predefined structure in which you knew your role as shaped by society before entering the couple – find a partner, get married, have children –, now the accent has shifted to individual needs and desires and the boundaries have loosened up so much that the idea of couple is not so easy to define.
We want to find the perfect partner with the accent on ‘perfect’ who can fulfil all our needs and desires as mentioned above and bring at the same time excitement and stability which are opposite feelings. Hmm, is that even possible?
Furthermore, while having this mindset, we usually follow the same pattern in choosing the potential matches and pick the ones that make us have the familiar feelings we’re used to from early life, even though these possible partners may seem very different on the outside.
We find attractive the ones who make us respond emotionally in a way that we already know how, while disregarding the ones who could potentially be better suited for us because they simply don’t trigger the feelings we learned from young age as being associated with the expression of love. That’s how adults coming from abusive families, for example, can choose to be with an abusive partner. Simply because that’s how they experienced love and they know how to respond back to that kind of treatment.
Taking the above on board in the era of sexual nomadism, of dating apps, of ME as the centre of the world, of all the freedom (and dare I say, responsibility) that comes with this approach on love, how to manage this very important aspect of our lives?
To keep it short, there isn’t a generally applicable solution to bring the ONE in the picture. But, instead of looking for the perfect partner what about focusing on being the ONE?
I don’t want to debate this topic, but rather, I will summarise what I learned so far from my experience and the experiences of others about romantic relationships in case it’s helpful for anyone:
Love is a verb. It is not a constant state of feelings that exist in a bubble. Love means putting the effort and doing the actions to keep it alive. It needs nurturing and continuous involvement. Taking it for granted or considering it an entitlement means considering yourself better and superior to your partner which is not what love preaches.
Longevity is not necessarily the indicator of a successful, loving relationship. “Miserably ever after” is, in no way, better than single and on your own.
Ending a relationship is not a failure. There are different periods in everyone’s life with different needs to fulfil. Instead of holding a grudge and making both partners’ lives a living hell, it’s a sign of respect and maturity to know when to let go and be grateful for the experience you had.
Intimacy and sexuality are two different concepts. They are interdependent but can exist separately. You can experience intimacy with someone who is not physically close or have no intimacy with someone you’re having sex with. The aspiration is to find them both in your partner, but there’s no guarantee this will be the case all the time.
You may love your partner, but this doesn’t mean you will like them every single day of your life together. We’re all individuals with a different construction, different moods, different mentalities which means conflict is inevitable. Actually, conflict is both useful and needed to defuse the tension and find a solution. Communicating to reconcile the differences and not avoiding them is a sign of a healthy relationship. No quarrels doesn’t mean an exemplary relationship, rather a lot of frustration accumulated within the couple.
When choosing a long-term partner, instead of choosing that person for their qualities, it is more helpful to focus on their flaws and ask yourself if that would be something you can live with for the rest of your life.
And last but not least, on a more joyful note, the myth of Latin lover is not a myth. Or, so I heard 😊
Love is a verb, therefore make love. Happen.