Many people in long term relationships admit that they are in many ways frustrated and disappointed with the person they have chosen to spend their lives with. And this is not because people tend to find idiots to go out with, but because we all inherit needlessly complicated ideas of what a relationship is supposed to be like.
Many people expect that a loving couple must live together, eat the same dinner together every night, share the same bed and go to sleep and wake up at the same time, only be intimate and have sexual thoughts about each other, have all their friends in common, etc. It’s a beautiful, yet disturbing vision since it places a giant burden of expectations on another human.
But, on the other side, there is a different perspective – relationships don’t have to be so complicated and ambitious if we keep in mind what actually makes them fulfilling. If we simplify the whole concept of relationships to a basic level, there are only three things that we want from our partner.
- Kindness: a partner who is understanding and gentle with our imperfections and can tolerate us as we are.
- Shared vulnerability: someone whom we can be open about our fears, anxieties, and problems that we face every day that may throw us off balance. A person who we don’t have to put on a good front for and someone with who we can be vulnerable with.
- Understanding: a person who is interested in and can make sense of certain obscure features of our mind: our likes, dislikes, and interests, as well as our way of seeing the world.
If we have these three critical ingredients, we will feel loved and essentially satisfied. By limiting what we expect our relationship to look like and be about, and simplifying the whole thought process, we release ourselves from overly complicated conflicts and can focus on our needs to be sympathized with, seen, and understood.