Most of us have our own romanticized notions of what it will be like whenever we find true love. How it will go. What it will feel like. What he or she will look like, sound like…
And every once in a while, we actually meet that person. There they are! In the bar standing close to us! Or down the hall at the job! Or in the line at the bookstore! They’re perfect. Everything we imagined. And so we engage. And chase. And pursue. And assume our very best behavior. And fight for a chance at that perfect union we’ve imagined inside our heads for such a long time. And sometimes it works! We obtain phone number. And a date! And a second date! And sometimes it even goes 1 or 2 month!
But at some point, it runs afoul. What once seemed effortless becomes arduous. The perfect conversations suddenly don’t flow as easily. The shine has worn off the apple. It’s work, now. And who has time for that? And here’s where many a relationship come to an regrettable end. Because the other person thinks it will only be constant magic. That other things is merely a false symbol.
But we still chase them! We want it right back! We think of what we can do to possibly salvage this sinking ship. Should we change ourselves? Adjust our behavior? Change our whole personality? After all: this really is love. Surely it’s worth sacrificing for, no? No, I’m here to say. It’s not. Because there’s a big, horrible idea out there in the wonderful world of romance: That if it’s not hard, it’s probably not real. True romance must be earned, we believe. Struggled for. Barely survived.
We should suffer for love. We must cry with certain regularity. Lose our faith again and again only to barely regain it again. I humbly submit that such a belief may be the romantic equivalent of 100% grade false belief. Perhaps it originates from our culture’s puritanical beginnings. The notion that anything great will probably be worth suffering for.
Even though I agree that love takes work, patience and forgiveness, I don’t think it will involve perpetual, ongoing damage-control. If the partnership you’re in takes constant, ongoing acrobatic maneuvers to keep it afloat, then it’s not a relationship; it’s a doomsday project. Relationships, in general, ought to be easy. If they’re taking a ton of work, a ton of enough time, something’s wrong.
It’s likely that either that:
A) One (or both) of you isn’t a stable enough person to even maintain a relationship to start with, and you need to set off on your own to learn how exactly to keep yourself perfectly satisfied with nothing more than yourself to sustain you. (And yes, I’ve been this person many times. )
B) One of you has unrealistic expectations of what another is supposed to provide them on a regular basis. (And yes, I’ve been this person, too. ) They think you’re supposed to keep them constantly entertained. Or wined and dined. Or emotionally rescued. Or financially bailed out. Neither which is sustainable.
And that’s why I say the next:
-Don’t chase the individual you can barely retain when you’re near the top of your game.
-Look for the person you can be pleased with even when you’re having a bad day. Or week. Or month.
-Because days past will happen, many, often over the course of a relationship.
-And the person who’s only happy with you when you’re a superhero will not hang in there when you finally turn into a mortal again and need them to be there for you personally, instead.
-So miss the supermodel. The quest for your own personal Jessica Alba or David Beckham. It might be heaven for a week or two, but they’d probably dump you once you failed to be the emblem of perfection for more than 2-3 seconds in a row.
That perfect pairing with the Mister or Miss Right we’ve all imagined in our hearts isn’t going to survive the endless ordinary days that real life is fraught with.
Anyone who’s truly right for you is probably cleverly disguised as the one you work with each day. Or the one who you’ve casually known in your circle of friends for five years. Who has seen you at your best and at your worst. And is still there, a big believer in your immense potential. And is probably an incredible lover if you’d just give them a chance.
That’s anyone it’s going to be genuinely easy with over the long haul.
Therefore the next time you’re searching for the one, don’t research on some stage or pedestal for a few shining realization of one’s fantasies. Turn around and appearance behind you. At the person you might have over looked. The person who is quietly everything you need them to be and more.
You simply have to give them a deeper look.
This essay originally appeared on The Good Men Project
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