There is no such thing as the ideal partner. So you might as well give up the hope that you can be fault-free, put together every day, and just the right amount of independent in a relationship. That idea is utterly unrealistic, puts you in a constant state of not feeling good enough, and can prevent you from developing real confidence in yourself. It can even end up putting unnecessary strain on your mate and bond.
Think about it this way: Relationships are like instruments. If you expect to pick one up and quickly play it like a pro, you’re going to become frustrated and disgruntled, and you may just walk away from a good thing—missing out before you really even began. To foster a long-term, supportive, rock-solid rapport, try to acknowledge your flaws while still holding yourself and your partner in high regard. Start by freeing yourself from these outdated notions of exemplary partner behavior.
“I need to be totally chill.”
Being “chill” or “cool” is not a sign of emotional maturity or intelligence. There are things that you should get worked up about, like if your partner is unfaithful or neglectful. In fact, I would be worried if that didn’t upset you! Some situations demand certain reactions, and this idea of people being “too much” or “crazy” is destructive. It leads you to act fake and pretend that your partner’s hurtful actions don’t bother you—which deprives your relationship of true closeness and connection.
What you want to learn is how to regulate your emotions. As in, you cry, scream, get angry… and then calm down. By doing so, you’re giving your partner a chance to truly get to know you, what upsets you, and how you handle and resolve your feelings. And yes, the right partner will still love you once you open up to him or her this way.
“I’ve got to be supportive.”
In relationships, there is usually one partner designated as the more nurturing partner, the shoulder to cry on, the emotional rock. But always being there for others can sometimes make you forget to take care of you. And constantly trying to be supportive and uplifting can make you second-guess yourself, asking “Did I say this right? Did I do the right thing?”
The fundamental challenge is figuring out how to encourage your mate while holding on to your own identity and individuality. Instead of adhering to the “right thing to do,” you must find your own voice as a caretaker. That might mean stepping away when you feel overwhelmed or allowing your partner the space to solve his or her own problems.
“I have to have my life together.”
A person who tries to be the perfect partner feels as though he or she must have it all together, as if that just comes naturally. But in reality, you are allowed to make mistakes, search for yourself, and not have all the answers about who you really are.
Plenty of my clients say things like, “When I met [my partner], they were so poised. They gave off an air of someone who knew what they were doing, who they were, and where they were going…but now that we are together, I’ve found that none of that was true.” If you begin a relationship on the presumption that you have everything figured out, you are setting yourself up for stress later on. Your bond will be built on unrealistic expectations, and your partner may be resentful once you reveal your true self.
Instead, try to learn to feel good about yourself even when you are flawed, and present that real version to potential mates. That sets you up to have a bond built on trust and truth. You will know they like and are attracted to you for who you really are.