We all dream of falling in love. Of being swept off our feet and living happily ever after. But somehow, few of us are in a relationship that’s anything like that. Why not?
Blame the entertainment industry for a lot of it. Because all those Disney Princess movies and pop songs lead you to expect that finding a partner is enough to make you happy. Though in fact, the whole of society’s full of similar ideas.
That wealth, success and happiness are easy. And somehow come from outside of ourselves. By buying the right phone. Drinking the right beer. Using the right brand of cooking oil … or meeting the right person, as if by magic, when you’re ready to get married.
Instead, perhaps you’re tolerating an emotionally unavailable partner, because you can’t imagine there’s anyone better out there for you? Or you’ve repeatedly withheld your true feelings for fear of being rejected?
Or endlessly tried to have a relationship with someone who’s controlling, self-centred, abusive, impulsive or unfaithful? Good marriages aren’t anything like that. There are no control issues.
You’re both able to express your feelings. You fight fair, and are both committed to each others’ personal growth and well-being.
So how do you find a relationship like that? It begins with accepting yourself for who you are, and deciding that you won’t settle for anything less than a good relationship. Though that can be difficult, because your bad expectations may have become a habit that’s difficult to change.
It’s also important to understand that love’s not just a feeling, like in the movies. It’s something you do. Truly loving someone means choosing to accept them unconditionally. Exactly as they are. And not trying to change them.
Respecting their right to see things differently from you, and to be who they want to be. Giving them the space to be themselves.
So be prepared to do all that — and to search for someone who’s willing to do the same for you.
Talk to enough people, and you’ll definitely find one.
Probably through your network, because the good people are always busy with their own lives, and don’t hang out in bars!
And if you’re in a relationships with someone who’s mistreating you? Be willing to let them go. Because it’s not enough to feel love for someone.
Both of you must be loving, or your relationship won’t last. Because loving someone’s far more than saying ‘I love you’. It’s how you spend your time together. The attention and affection you give each other.
Real love’s full of emotional intimacy, passion and commitment. So if you constantly think about how you can give those to each other, then you’ll have a great relationship!
Seriously. Show your love for your partner in real, practical ways — and make sure you’re with someone who’s doing the same for you.
Then you’ll have a relationship that’s far better than just ‘falling in love’.
This article was first published in Daily Nation.