Is Your Partner Really “The One”?

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in Couples Counseling, Couples Counseling For One | Comments Off on Is Your Partner Really “The One”?

Americans, especially, subscribe to the belief that there is one “right” person for each of us, and everyone else is wrong. But that’s really not true.

Relationships tend to follow a fairly normal and natural progression. The first step is usually infatuation, characterized by attraction, good feelings, and a high level of connection. We overestimate our similarities and minimize our differences. Our partners can do no wrong. This drives our desire to get together, stay together, and procreate.

Unfortunately, infatuation fades. It’s normal. It’s predictable. Infatuation is always temporary. One day we wake up, roll over, look at our partner, and wonder:

“What have I done?”

“Is this relationship a big mistake?”

Of course, it may not be that abrupt, but most of us eventually question whether we’ve chosen the “right” mate.

This is where the relationship gets real.

When disillusionment sets in, we tend to focus on the differences between us and our partners. We also become intolerant of those differences. We may become destructive to the relationship by:

  • blaming our partners for our unhappiness.
  • attempting to change or mold our partners into our idea of the ideal partner.
  • moving on to search for someone “better” secretly, or ending the relationship to do so.

Most relationships can’t stand up to that kind of strain.

One of the big problems with this progression is that it really doesn’t address the shift from infatuation through disillusionment. We just end up trading one set of relationship problems for another.

So, what can we do?

We can take responsibility for the relationship we want. There are a few steps involved:

1.Recognize your relationship patterns. Accept that the shift from infatuation to disillusionment is normal and inevitable. Research suggests that women become more quickly disillusioned than men, initiating most breakups and about ⅔ of all divorces. Women also tend to compare actual relationships with ones they feel they deserve. Men generally only make those types of comparisons with regards to sex.

2. Acknowledge your contribution to the problem. Developing some clarity about how we are contributing to the problem is not an easy task. Relationships are a two-way street. There certainly are things that we aren’t doing that let our partners down. It’s important to strike that balance, and see the relationship from both sides.

3. Accept your partner. We tend to want to change our partners. We want them to be like us. Decide what you can live with, and what are deal breakers. Accepting characteristics that are disappointing to you is part of the growth, and maturity, accompanying a long-term relationship.

4. Forge a stronger relationship with your partner. “Turning toward” behaviors are important. Communicate, interact, spend quality time, and listen to one another in small but very important ways. Connection is more than date night and getaways. Take opportunities to connect meaningfully every day. Negotiation is also important in forging a closer relationship. Both of you should be able to get at least some of what you need.

5. Shift the focus from self to the relationship. When issue or conflicts arise, ask yourself, ”Does my response enhance our relationship or damage it?” Choose responses that aren’t immediately gratifying, but will maintain your connection.

In reality, there isn’t one right mate for us.

“Rightness” is determined by the willingness to continually adjust and accommodate each other. If you put forth the effort, you can create the right mate.

Having said all that, some partners really are wrong for us. Beware of people who have a history of recurrent infidelity, refuse to treat addictions, have maladaptive behaviors or personalities. They probably won’t be able to work with you or become the mate you hope for.

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