In the modern day there is this huge, romantic idea that one day we will find someone to complete us. One day, one fateful day, somebody will make us feel “whole”. Somebody with whom we just naturally fit.
But we are not puzzle pieces. We will never find someone who completely satisfies us in every way, and here are five reasons why that is not just okay, but completely normal.
1. Your Interests Are Unique
In a lot of pop culture, most notably from Ted in How I Met Your Mother and his string of unsatisfactory relationships, there is emphasis on the idea that the people you love must adhere to your standards completely or the relationship is doomed.
“Deal-breakers” are habits or opinions that you simply cannot accept in partners. In serious cases, deal-breakers must be taken seriously – in cases of abuse, disrespect or mistreatment – but in others they’re just signs of immaturity.
People can be into the same things as you, but nobody will ever share the exact same intensity or appreciation of the things you love.
Sometimes people might flat-out dislike some of your favourite things, and this doesn’t make them any less worthy of your time or mean that you’re in any way “incompatible”, it’s just a preference.
If things are otherwise going well, don’t get too caught up in the fact that they’ve never seen Star Wars or don’t like knitting.
So long as somebody is respectful of the fact that you are allowed to enjoy your interests, there is no obligation for them to join in.
2. People Aren’t Custom-Made
As mentioned above, you may never find someone with the precise interests that you have. And that’s okay. But another important aspect of relationships to note is that people are likely to disagree with you on other things, not just your favourite hobbies or films.
Even if you believe your relationship to be the romantic ideal of perfection, you are likely to find something to argue about eventually.
And this can be devastating, especially if you had expected your partner to be “perfect”. A lot of people fall into the idea that being happy means never arguing.
And yes, it is nice not to argue – but the idea that a good relationship doesn’t ever involve arguing is actually quite damaging.
If you expect your partner to be perfect, and your relationship along with it, an argument can seem like the end. You could be spending so much time avoiding an argument that the issues you have aren’t getting addressed.
But arguments are normal!
Arguments give you a chance to think about the dynamics of your life and relationships, and to change them if need be.
Don’t be worried about one argument ruining your relationship – say how you feel and your relationship can grow from it.
3. You’re Not Complete (And Neither Are They)
Another romantic idea is the rejection of the idea of work or change in a relationship. A lot of romantic movies are based on the idea of acceptance or forgiveness, but rarely touch on the necessity for uncomfortable change.
You may well think that you are fully mature, and you may be a pretty good partner too. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t still have things to work on. Everybody wishes they could live in comfort and full acceptance, but equally everybody has bad habits or opinions which their partner has a hard time dealing with (a common one is jealousy).
Don’t be fooled, you can accept the things that you don’t like about your partner, and they can do the same for you. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t change, especially if it is a damaging habit such as jealousy.
There is absolutely no shame in having to work and change in a relationship – the relationship cannot mature if you don’t mature with it!
Relationships where one or all partners do not work on themselves are not likely to last.
4. Love Is Immeasurable
You will have heard about the different types of love – love of your family, love of your friends, and love of your partner.
All three have different aspects, and can be associated with different types of feelings – so why do we compare our love between partners?
If you’ve ever been in a difficult place and wondering who you love more out of your partners, there is no real answer. You are likely to have had different experiences with each, and have been in different stages of your life – not to mention the fact that they are different people!
Nobody is “harder” or “easier” to love, because people are different and require different things in relationships.
Often relationships from when you were younger seem “easier” because you weren’t as self-aware, and didn’t realise that relationships require work and change.
5. Love Means Patience
If you’re going through a time with a lot of anger and frustration, don’t worry. A lot of relationships have peaks and troughs based on work schedules, studying, money problems and mental health issues. It is not a reflection of you being a bad match, it is just about juggling your issues with theirs.
Even when a relationship is in a good phase, both partners will likely be working on themselves to maintain it.
And sometimes people don’t work hard enough. Sometimes you will ask your partner or partners to do something and they will forget or they won’t try. And this is not your fault.
People get stuck into habits and it might be hard to break them, especially if they see themselves as fully mature already.
It can hurt when partners promise you something that they don’t deliver on, but it is bound to happen. As mentioned above, they’re not finished growing-up, and neither are you. Nor are your friends, parents or relatives, and they never will be because a person is constantly improving, and this means they are very prone to mistakes and slipping into old habits.
It is okay to be angry when somebody isn’t working hard enough to be with you, or when they’ve forgotten something or haven’t delivered on a promise – but it isn’t the final straw unless you want it to be.
If you cannot forgive people for their mistakes, that is your decision to make. But if you’re somebody who needs everything to be perfect first time, and that is why you can’t handle a partner’s mistakes, remember that people don’t learn without making mistakes and that eventually everybody makes them.
Love isn’t about being with somebody who makes you constantly overwhelmingly happy. It is about being with somebody who makes you smile, who makes you laugh, and who can make things better after they make you cry.
It’s about people working on themselves and helping others do the same and knowing that an argument or mistake is there to be learned from, not to jeopardise the relationship.
Ultimately love is about self-reflection, improvement and long-term respect for the humanity of your partners.