Dreaming of meeting the man of your dreams and all the fun you will have together? You can just see it… workouts at the gym, cooking classes, dance classes, tickets to the symphony together and more!
Or how about the woman of your dreams? Imagining backpacking in Europe, river rafting in the Grand Canyon, surfing off the shores of Hawaii, and season tickets to your alma mater’s football games all with your personal sidekick in tow?
Okay, so those may be a bit stereotyped, but you get the picture. Sometimes when we envision our ideal partner we dream about all the things we will do together and how blissful life will be from that point forward.
So where do we find this person?
To be honest, I don’t know where you might find this person or if they even exist.
As discussed in last week’s blog, I believe that there is a person that’s “perfect for you” out there. However, I don’t believe this will be a “perfect” person that you can identify as your BE ALL, END ALL partner.
I’ve identified this line of thought as the Constant Companion Syndrome.
When you find yourself believing that there is ONE person that will fulfill your every need, wish, desire, and more within your relationship, then you have constant companion syndrome.
Does someone you know have this problem?
Be honest with yourself, do you have this problem?
I want you to think for a moment of why this might be a dream or vision to let go of this month.
Why am I asking this of you?
Because, sometimes, you can meet this “perfect” person that enjoys ALL the same things you do and meets every item on our list, but it isn’t the person that’s “perfect” for you.
Are you missing out on a great catch waiting for that constant companion that can share every millisecond of your life with you? Think of how much pressure that might be for one person to feel like your very happiness is dependent on how much time they spend with you and what activities you complete together. You may be scaring people away with this expectation.
Just because someone looks and sounds good on paper, doesn’t mean that person will work out for you in real life.
Have you ever met that person? The one that meets every criterion on your “list” but you just don’t feel a connection with him/her. Or you feel uncomfortable and awkward and others think you’re being too picky? Trust your gut and let the relationship go.
On the other hand, if you can’t talk to your partner for three hours about your upcoming job interview and what you’re worried about, what you might wear, and figuring out the best possible answers to potential questions, is that a problem?
Maybe you have a close friend or parent that has experience in human resources, or is just plain helpful with interview techniques, should you ignore that person and only seek input from your partner?
It’s okay to have friends and family members meet different needs in your life. There may be a best co-worker that you enjoy gardening with, or your best friend to watch chick flicks with, or your favorite uncle to attend the college world series with. Yes, I want you to meet a wonderful person and have things in common with this person. However, also be mindful of all the wonderful people you already have in your life. Your partner will hopefully be a complement or icing on the cake as it comes to becoming a part of your life.
Make room in your life for more than ONE person.
Just because your partner won’t play golf with you or won’t sit and talk with you for hours on how to renovate the house doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t love you. Spend the afternoon apart participating in those activities with a friend and then spend the evening together doing an activity you enjoy such as cooking, watching movies, or playing cards.
Find activities you can enjoy with your partner as well as apart.
It’s okay to let go of the person, the relationship, and the dream of the constant companion. Be open and listen to your heart and spirit. You’ll find the person that’s “perfect” for you.
Please note: Although we can have different people in our lives to help us meet our needs, I am not suggesting for one member of a couple to go and seek out other romantic relationships, be they sexual, intellectual, etc.
Have you been dreaming about your perfect partner? You know – the one that is tall, dark and handsome or slim, fair and sexy? The one that gets a check for every item on your list; educated, handy person, high income earner, nice car, cleanly, etc…
Have you been telling yourself that your perfect partner will meet every single criterion on your list?
Maybe you envision that your perfect partner will love doing outdoor work, have the magic touch in the kitchen or have a fondness for household cleanliness. I agree, many of those items sound golden and many could be considered perfectly reasonable expectations.
How many items do you have on your perfect partner list, though? Five, 10, 20, 50+? Do you even know? If you haven’t written down what you’re looking for, I encourage you to do that right now. You may be surprised at what does or doesn’t end up on your list.
Now, I want you to go through your list again, this time, identifying those that are “nice –to-have” and those that are “must-haves”. At the bottom I also want you to include deal breakers that could not be tolerated – smoker, pet owner (and you have allergies), drinker (you’re actively working a 12 step program), snake aficionado, different religion, whatever you know would be absolutely impossible for you to live with.
I don’t want there to be more than 5 of these items on this list. This isn’t a checklist for what your partner is not. These are going to be items that go against your fundamental life values.
Now, I want you to think about, what if you meet someone that only has five of your six must-haves? Will that throw him/her out of the running? I hope not. Is this a list that you share with this person on date one? Absolutely not!
Am I asking you to settle for less than the best for you? No, as well. What I am hoping to accomplish is for you to have a better idea of what you are looking for in a partner. How will this help you? It could assist you in writing your profile for an online dating site. It could provide some guidance to you as you describe to family and friends what you are looking for in case they know someone.
It could also help you let go of the superficial things that could be holding you back from meeting your perfect partner or loving the perfect partner that’s already in your life.
Wait a minute, did I just say perfect? Yes. You can have a perfect partner. But this perfect partner may be a bit human and therefore, have some flaws. You know the kind, leaving socks on the floor, toothpaste in the sink, forgetting to lock the door, leaving toe nail clippings on the bathroom rug and such.
Sometimes we get confused when we hear the word “perfect”.
We think perfect means that everything will be magical with our partner. We’ll never have arguments, we’ll like all the same things (food, activities, tv shows, movies) and we’ll enjoy every moment we spend together. I call this the constant companion syndrome and will be discussing it further in next week’s blog. Belief in this idea can lead us astray as 99.9% of the time it’s an impossible reality and only occurs in fairy tales.
My idea of the “perfect partner” is someone that is perfect for you.
You both may share similar values of education, work ethic, family life, spirituality and others. However you each have your own interests, hobbies, activities, careers, even friends. You both love each other for the person they are. You understand that his/her nuances of drinking milk out of the cereal bowl, tripping over thin air, laughing loudly, or leaving shoes all over the house are what make him/her unique. Maybe your partner wouldn’t win any beauty pageants, but knows how to calm you down when you’ve had a bad day at work.
By letting go of looking for a partner with perfect qualities, you just may find the partner that is perfect for you. I think this quote says it all…
“When we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness – and call it love – true love.”
~ Robert Fulghum
Do you have some “perfect partner” qualities that you could let go of so you can be open to the partner that’s perfect for you?
As mentioned in the previous post, each week I will be publishing a blog article addressing the theme of Now’s the Time. For the next three months, the focus will be on Letting Go, so in April we will begin our journey looking at how we can let go of perfection in our relationships.
Let’s start by putting this into context.
Do I have any Gilmore Girl fans? In the seventh season, Lane comes back from her honeymoon feeling ill and disillusioned by the act of sex. Do you remember how she described to Rory what happened? Lane said that she and Zack wanted their “first time” to be romantic, so they went to the beach to recreate the From Here to Eternity love scene.
She then proceeded to share how the sand was cold, there were crabs in the sand, some guy with a snorkel mask was watching them and that basically sand and sex don’t mix. The experience was so horrible that she thought there was a conspiracy among women to hide the truth about sex and that she could live the rest of her life without ever having sex again.
What Lane and Zack were trying to create was for the epitome of romantic experiences to occur.
What we learn from this though, is that romance isn’t always perfect or ideal. Many times, women (most especially), believe that when they meet “the One” they will hear bells and whistles, that when they receive their proposal there will be violins playing in the background or that when it’s their birthday they will receive that perfect piece of jewelry in the silver box with the burgundy ribbon.
Now, I don’t want you to think that I am sour on romance, because I appreciate a little romance as much as the next woman or man.
What I’d like to encourage you to do, is to let go of the perfection part. Even though your fiancé didn’t give you the most eye watering, “I can’t live a day without you” proposal doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you or isn’t romantic. Maybe he was so nervous he forgot how to speak. That’s another way to look at romance, isn’t it?
Romance looks, feels, tastes, smells, and sounds differently to everyone. Have you ever asked yourself what you consider to be romantic? I’m sure that thoughts have crossed your mind, but have you ever written them down? Have you ever shared with your partner what you consider to be romantic?
REMEMBER: The people in our lives can’t read our minds.
“Oh be still, my heart, they can’t?!” No, people cannot read our minds. Without taking the time to share what we want, need, or desire in a relationship our partner might fall extremely short of the perfect romantic encounter.
Your version of a romantic evening at home might consist of candles, chocolate covered strawberries and listening to some Bach or Pachelbel while your partner’s version might be a night at the movies to see Avengers. Or you might enjoy a walk through the fall leaves while your partner yearns for chocolate chip cookies and a night of video games. Or you were expecting a surprise visit to the local carnival and your partner was hoping for tickets to a demolition derby.
Bottom line, they don’t match up.
Now you might be thinking,
“but if I have to tell my partner what I find romantic, doesn’t that take the romance out of the experience?”
Not exactly. Have fun with the experience. You could each write down your favorite songs and discuss why you like them or relate to them. Or think of a scenario – grocery shopping at midnight – and try and come up with the best or most romantic (in your eyes) song for that scenario. My guess is this could lead to some mega laughter, you know the kind, where tears are rolling down your face and no sounds are coming out of your mouth?
Don’t take this activity too seriously.
This isn’t to be a marathon experience where you can’t get up until you each know every single thing that the other person finds romantic. But take the time, over time, to address each of the senses (see, hear, taste, touch, smell) and how you relate them to romance. Then the idea is to slowly weave them into your lives. These may not be perfect romantic exchanges when they occur but they will help feed both your romantic desires.
This just may be the little pick-me-up that your relationship needs right now.
How do you feel about bringing up the conversation of romance with your partner? Are you dreading it or excited about the possibilities?
“As soon as I meet ‘the one’ we can buy the house of our dreams together.”
“When I find the love of my life we’ll travel the world together.”
“Life will be better when I am loved by someone.”
Are you wondering how I read your mind? Well, you’re not the first person to have these kinds of thoughts. Many people seem to put their lives on hold until they meet the infamous “one”. Or sometimes they’ve met a great person but still have the thought “If my partner would be more willing to do everything I like, he/she would be more fun.”
I would like 2012 to be the year to challenge these thoughts for you. Which one(s) do you find yourself thinking the most? How can you change them around?
Over the next nine months I will be writing weekly posts that address my theme for 2012 “Now’s the Time.” This will be addressed in different ways for different people. For our single friends, it might be Now’s the Time…to try online dating, take a cooking class, or learn how to be a photographer. For our dating friends, it might be Now’s the Time…to let go of past grudges or to try a new communication activity. For our engaged or newlywed couples it might be that Now’s the Time to make a commitment to facing finances head on together every month or releasing thoughts that harm your relationships.
I don’t want you to be thinking “I wish I would have…” at 12:05 a.m. on January 1, 2013. Let 2012 be the time for you to create your happily ever after because Now’s the Time.
A couple of weeks ago on goodtherapy.org, Lori Hollander, posted a blog article titled: Three Truths Every Couple Needs to Know About Marriage. When I read it, I thought “Yes, this is what I want everyone to know – this is why I started my private practice!”
As I meet people, I am sharing with them that I want to help others. Single people who are struggling with the dating scene, dating all the wrong people and starting feeling a little desperate. Couples that have been dating and are preparing for marriage. Couples that have been married or even been committed to each other for many years but are starting to question where their love went.
Therapy isn’t just for “crazy” people or those that are at the end of their ropes with each other. You fell in love and chose to commit yourselves to one another for a reason. Sometimes you need help figuring out how to rekindle that love and other times you need help learning how to let go of something that wasn’t meant to be. When you’ve involved your family and friends, neighbors and co-workers into your relationships, it’s hard to find someone neutral to help you sort things out. Your relationship decisions affect those around you and you may not get the answer that truly benefits you as an individual.
That’s where I come in. As a counselor, I want to help people find their more happily ever after. What does that mean? It means that I want to reach out to people, possibly like you, that think “well, maybe I’m happy” and help you get to the point where you say “Yes, I’m living happily ever after.”
What does this look like? It could be:
- I’m single and enjoying life and learning about myself. I don’t have to be a part of couple to be whole.
- I’ve learned how to engage in self-care so I can be better partner and/or parent.
- I know how to talk to my partner to build up his/her love tank and my partner fills my love tank.
- My partner and I feel like we’re on the same team and we’re working towards the same goals together.
Keep in mind “happily ever after” doesn’t mean never arguing, feeling disappointed, saying the wrong things or getting hurt at times. We’re all human and part of life is experiencing not only happiness and joy but also pain, sorrow, anger and forgiveness.
But to quote Lori Hollander “It’s easy to love your partner when things are great. The true test of a marriage is when things are not going so well; when you have to sacrifice for your partner; when you have to come together as a team to face differences and difficulties.” Let me be there to help you when your relationship feels trying.
Do you believe you can find your more happily ever after? What does it look like for you?
Valentine’s Day. You either love it or you hate it. Why is that? Some people are enchanted with the idea of being showered with love, affection, and gifts. Others are nauseated at the dramatic displays of ardor. ”Couldn’t she have received those flowers at home?” And others are trying to disappear into their cubicles dreaming of a day when their office crush will finally notice them and send them bouquets of flowers and cards of adoration.
Instead of waiting for your partner, spouse, children or best friend to shower you with love and adulation here are five tips to show yourself love on this sweetheart of a day.
- Be Creative. Get out your crayons, markers and stickers and make yourself a valentine. Write in it all things that you love about yourself and that make you a special person. Yes, you are special. Remember the time you shoveled the snow for your elderly neighbor, let someone ahead of you in the grocery store line because they only had two items and you had 20 or when put change in someone’s expired meter? Bonus points if you mail your valentine to yourself!
- Try out that new recipe! Didn’t you just pin a yummy new recipe on Pintrest last week? You know that many restaurants will be full of couples going out to eat tonight. Spend a night in your much ignored kitchen. Don’t worry, if it doesn’t turn out, you can always order in pizza. Some pizza’s can even be delivered to you in the shape of a heart!
- Home Spa. Remember when you first saw the tub in your home or apartment and thought “I can’t wait to use that for a bubble bath” but then have never taken the time? Get out the bubble bath, candles or even your foot bath and play some upbeat tunes. No pity parties allowed though, so don’t put in any Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, etc. Try some Natasha Bedingfield “Unwritten,” Shania Twain “C’est La Vie” or even Bruno Mars “The Lazy Song”.
- Karaoke. Spend an hour going through your itunes list and singing along to your favorite songs. When’s the last time you listened to Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”? Or how about Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” or Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Turn up the tunes and sing your heart out!
- Volunteer. Sometimes the best way we can love ourselves is to help a stranger. It provides us with some perspective and appreciation for the life we have created for ourselves. Could your local food pantry use some assistance stocking shelves? Keep in mind some organizations need advance notice to accommodate volunteers or complete backgrounds. Check out online searches like VolunteerMatch.org or your local United Way for other ideas.
As William Ernest Henley wrote in his poem Invictus “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
How will you steer yourself this Valentine’s Day and provide love of self instead of pining for love from others?
During drinks with friends before the holidays I was discussing married life with some single women. These women were in their late twenties and early thirties. They were apprehensive at the thought of living with a man and having to share their space with him. What would it be like to share a bed, closet, bathroom, or kitchen with a man every single day? How do you pay bills together? Who is responsible for what household duties? To be honest these were thoughts I had too…before meeting my now husband. When my husband first moved in, all of his clothes were placed in the spare bedroom except for the two dresser drawers I managed to empty out in the master bedroom. It took about six months for me to revise my clothing situation and free up half of the closet for him to share with me in the bedroom. I realized once I found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with I became willing to make compromises. Thank goodness my husband also understood that change happens over time. I think we both needed time to make the transition from personal closet to shared closet.
What worries do you have about sharing living space with your potential life partner?