Before I met my husband I was a self-described serial dater. It’s not that I had a problem getting dates; rather, committing to those second dates is what I found so difficult. In fact I could usually hear my mother’s voice, playing on an almost continuous loop in the small of my mind shouting, “Oh, you’re too picky! So what if his hands are big? What’s wrong with a guy who wears a sweat suit on a date? You’re never going to give me grandchildren! But I still couldn’t bring myself to overlook those characteristics I disdained.
Sure, I’d admit I was no where near perfection personified either. Still, even after 17 years of marriage regardless of fully accepting my own flaws, there were and still are just certain non-negotiables I can’t seem to adapt to in a mate.
According to Dr. Karin Anderson, Associate Professor of Psychology and Counselor Education at Concordia University Chicago and author of the book, It Just Hasn’t Happened Yet, unrealistic expectations can work against you in your quest for love. In fact, Dr. Anderson notes, if you see yourself in any of these categories, you may be sabotaging your love life without even realizing it! (And I am likely a #1 Saboteur!)
#1 Unrealistic expectations of perfection: Enough with the soul mate idea already.
#2 Unrealistic expectations of similarity: Your man will never want to go to the mall with you and your girlfriend’s eyes will always glaze over when you prattle off MLB stats.
#3 Unrealistic expectations of romance: Eventually, he won’t bring you flowers anymore and she’ll start wearing sweats to bed. You can bank on it.
#4 Unrealistic expectations of change: If it’s not working, get out so you make room for the right one to come along.
#5 Unrealistic expectations of fulfillment: You complete me is a bad line from Jerry McGuire, not a philosophy for a healthy relationship. It’s the new millennium. Complete yourself.
So now what?
Dr. Anderson says, if you find you resonate with any of the above, here are some surefire ways to let go of unrealistic expectations and let love in!
#1 Perfection: It’s not that you have to abandon the hope of finding a soul mate entirely; you just need to expand your conception of the term. Maybe it’s time you recognize the soul mates you already have in your life kindred spirits like your best friend or your dear Aunt Marie. True, finding a confidante is a rare gift, yet it’s possible you’ll meet several soul mates throughout your lifetime. But realize your soul mate doesn’t have to come in the form of a romantic partner!
#2 Similarity: Of course you want to be married to someone with similar interests, but it’s unrealistic to think your paramour will share every single one of your passions and pursuits. Furthermore, if you’re heterosexual, you can forget about this for sure because men and women can only relate on so much then our hormones take over and propel us in opposite directions he to the court to play pick-up basketball, she to the salon for a mani-pedi.
Expecting your partner to do everything you do is a recipe for misery. Here’s a thought, how about calling up the friends. They really miss you and would love to check out that shoe sale at Macy’s.
#3 Romance: Get real! Life isn’t a chick flick! It’s perfectly fine, if after being married to someone for a while to then decide he/she isn’t romantic enough for you that happens. But are you doing your part to fuel the fire? If you require silk sheets and serenades, be sure you cultivate this element in your courtship.
Don’t move in with a guy, get mad that he no longer woos you, and leave him because his feet smell and he belches in bed. When you broke out the sweats and scuncis, you sent the message that wining and dining was no longer top priority.
#4 Change: We complain, complain, complain and want them to change, change, change, but we’re missing the whole point of marriage. The goal isn’t to alter someone to fit you; it’s to find someone who’s already a good fit. We socialize children, not partners. If you’re not happy because your lover lacks qualities you desire, it’s your fault for sticking around.
#5 Fulfillment: It’s your job to fulfill yourself. Period. A companion should compliment your life, not complete it. Expecting someone to fill your intrapersonal voids is not only immature, it’s impossible. No one can make you happy. No one can give your life meaning and purpose. No one can save you from yourself. Until you recognize this, you’ll keep dismissing perfectly wonderful partners because they haven’t been able to miraculously bandage up all your psychological wounds or haul off your emotional baggage.
SO…do you see yourself in any of these points and if so– whatcha gonna do about it?!