One Relationship Killer Most Don’t Think About . . .

After 25 years working in the Human Services field there is one thing I have come to understand and that is we, as human beings, are capable of changing our behaviour but not our DNA. We are what we are but it remains to be seen who we become.

Fast forward to the time when we are dating and we are introduced to someone we really take a shine to. In my case she would be energetic and adventuresome; self confident and yet not self absorbed; intelligent and excited to learn about new things; be her own thinker and able and wiling to defend her beliefs, morals and values. I would need to be physically attracted to her as well. Not a lot to ask–is it?

There is nothing quite like a new and exciting relationship wherein you find yourself thinking about being with the other person all of the time. Time really does stand still at times and goes by so quickly when you are together. Most other things that seemed important at one time seem unimportant now.  There isn’t much you wouldn’t do to preserve the quality of the time you spend together.

So why are there so many failed relationships? Why are so many people tired or bored or willing to give up on a relationship that had so much promise not so many years ago? When I look at the climbing numbers of failed relationships/marriages I have to believe that the “experts” are missing something really important.

Lets go back a bit and think about when we were dating. Do they still call it “dating” by the way? For the sake of discussion I am going to say yes. You knock on the door to announce you are there to pick him/ her up–he/she answers and you are smitten all over again. How many females would answer the door with no make-up on or your hair not done just the way you know your date likes it. How many guys would show up dressed like they climbed out of a grease pit at the garage with hair that hadn’t been washed in three weeks, breath that would stop a truck complete with your smelly old running shoes on? I still believe that most would put themselves together in a way that says they care about how each is seen by the other.

Most, even today’s folks, want their companion to see the best side of who they are most of the time. Agreed, that effort does, sometimes, wear thin a bit the longer you are around the same person or people but for the most part, we are still interested in making sure the other person isn’t going to start looking for someone else to start hanging out with. If we care about the other person and are contemplating a long term relationship most will continue to present themselves in a way that remains quite favourable to the other person. Each of us holds this one belief–this one EXPECTATION very near to our hearts. It is the one thing that needs to remain constant and seldom does. Most of us can’t or don’t want to see anything or anyone who isn’t who they used to be when they were first seeing each other. We demonstrate our best and that’s who we believe we are getting for the rest of our lives. We don’t expect that part will change. When it does, as it almost always does, that is more likely the time when disappointment, confusion, even resentment begins to set in. Relationships and the desperately needed communication that needs to be engaged in seldom takes place. Things often hit bottom shortly thereafter. Couples will try counselling and weekends away but at this point there is a basic trust that is often missing or that is questioned. Is he/she just doing this so that we don’t separate? Will it matter after we have “reconciled” things?

EXPECTATIONS held by each partner, to me, present the most important talking points in any relationship and are likely the least discussed by the “professionals” or by the partners. Once these expectations are abused, refused, discounted, forgotten or bargained away the walls go up and things don’t get much better. We hang on to our expectations because that is what/how we first got connected. This early person was our reality in the beginning and we expect that who we fell in love with back then will remain the same way all through the relationship. That includes the physical and emotional parts of who we are. Is it unrealistic–certainly. Does that matter–nope.  It is easy for some to jump to the conclusion that should those expectations change then the relationship must be over.

When we are helping our kids through their mine fields called life we need to be sure to help them understand not only the importance of sharing the expectations they have of their partner with their partner but also to ask what expectations their partners have of them. Don’t assume that it won’t matter. It does and it will.

Anyways, that’s how I see things. Thanks for stopping by.

All the best, Jim

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