What does an ideal relationship look like to you? Does a particular vision come to mind? Have you secretly decided that your man or woman has to look or be a certain way? Do you envision a particular lifestyle, or ways in which you believe you should be involved in each other’s lives?
The ideal relationship is simply the one that works for you. It’s not about getting anything right, upholding tradition, modeling anyone else, or chasing the fantasy of a knight in shining armor or the supermodel waiting to be rescued.
When I met my ‘enjoyable other’, Brendon, he didn’t fit any version of what the world says makes the ideal relationship. He is eleven years younger than me, has a child and a dog, and came with a lot of debt. If we’d bought into conventionality, we never would have started a relationship; we never would have created so much together. Instead we said, “Hey, this seems fun so let’s choose this.” Eight years later, we’re still choosing it.
The myths of what a relationship should look like or be like are what prevent a lot of people from having what’s fun, and what works for them. Put simply, points of view about what has to be, cut you off from the infinite possibilities of what can be.
Here are some common myths about relationships, what they create, and what you can do about it:
I need a relationship to complete me.
The whole idea of someone completing you is often regarded as a romantic notion, but it’s actually about believing that you are lacking something. It’s a way to hide judgments from yourself.
Judgment will completely limit what you can create in a relationship. So, get really honest with yourself about all the judgments you have about you. Are you expecting a relationship to compensate for those? That doesn’t work. You have to be willing to really look at your points of view and to become completely vulnerable with yourself – you will change your points of view if you’re committed to doing so. In truth, there is nothing incomplete about you. You don’t need anyone to complete you.
When I find “the one,” it’ll last forever.
The notion of “the one” is a fairy tale. It’s a story we’ve heard a million times, but it’s based on countless conclusions of what a relationship should be like, look like, and feel like. Expecting a relationship to last forever creates constriction. When you’re willing to check in every day and ask yourself if it’s still working for you, then you have the freedom to choose the relationship rather than be locked into it from expectation.
When you decide someone is “the one,” you make them the source of everything. You are the source for your life; no one else can be that. Trying to make someone else the source cuts off ‘you’ and severely limits what you can create.
Being in relationship means you are one.
Relationship is not about becoming one with someone else – it’s about “You are here; I am here. What can we create together that is greater than what we can create apart?” Instead of looking at your relationship as if you have to be one, practice having gratitude for everything your partner is. From gratitude, everything grows and expands.
For me, the more I was grateful for Brendon, the more money he made and the more money I made. If I had been looking for us to be one, I wouldn’t have been able to acknowledge everything he is, and how that contributes to the creation of our lives.
I have to do things – or not do things – to make them happy.
How many people do you know who do things in their relationship that they don’t actually enjoy? How about people who have stopped doing something they enjoy because their partner didn’t like it? Does any of that make the relationship greater?
Brendon once had a girlfriend who didn’t like surfing. He really enjoyed it, but he stopped doing it because she didn’t like it. He was doing what he thought he was supposed to do to make a relationship work, but it wasn’t being kind to either one of them. Can you make anyone else happy? No, they have to choose it. You don’t have to fix things for each other, especially if it means cutting off you. You can choose to be happy every moment of every day, regardless of what they choose.
There are many myths about relationships and how they should be. All of them are simply points of view and you don’t have to choose to believe them or enact them. If you never again tried to get relationship right, but instead asked, “What works here? And what contribution can we be to each other,” how much more fun could you have creating your lives together?