The romantic notion of the idealized, longed for a perfect partner, the one who will complete us, the one who will be the answer to our loneliness and be our happily-ever-after, is difficult to relinquish.
It is believed that the majority of people long for and spend significant time during early adulthood looking for that perfect partner. And yet unhappy marriages, couples counseling, extra-marital affairs, and divorce rates continue to increase.
An ideal relationship is not necessarily a ‘perfect’ relationship – it is helpful to move away from the notion of ‘perfect’. Acceptance of imperfections, flaws, and weaknesses as the human is helpful in relating to another and creating compassion and understanding.
Life pressures, fatigue, and stress can lead to irritable behavior. Creating space for each individual in the relationship to have such human flaws allows for comfort, kindness, and compassion which in turn are essential for healthy intimate relationships.
Acceptance of individual unique qualities, views and personality traits is essential in relationships. Allowing for space includes accepting that one’s perspective is just one perspective out of many and that the other person in the relationship may have their own differing perspective, thoughts, views, and feelings.
Each perspective is then considered as one of many, and not as an absolute truth. The understanding that the other person may have their own and differing views, allows for discussion and perhaps compromise in situations where compromise is needed.
Each individual enters their relationship with their own set of life experiences which contribute to their world view. Nature and nurture lead to what one brings into their relationships.
Emotional injuries from childhood have an opportunity to heal or deepen in adult intimate relationships. Repair of previous emotional injuries can occur with corrective emotional experiences within the relationship.
Compassion, kindness, and understanding are key ingredients of a corrective emotional experience.
Healthy relationships emerge from the understanding that each partner comes with human flaws and injuries. Stepping away from the idealized or romanticized notion of how an ideal partner ‘should be’ and how an ideal relationship ‘should be’ is helpful in creating the space for a mature and reality-based relationship.
All relationships weather stresses and strains. Often it is not the conflict or the actual incident of stress that matters as much as how one deals with it, how one reacts to it, whether there are space and compassion for the other at the time of stress, and whether the relationship is prioritized and taken care of.
Storms inevitably come and also come to pass. An important question to ponder is whether the storms are weathered together and whether they bring the two individuals closer, or whether they create a dynamic of blame, criticism, and resentment.
Life’s experiences, even when negative can be viewed from the perspective of what such experiences have to teach, and how they can inform the future.
Along with space and permission to be oneself and have one’s own identity, characteristics of a healthy intimate relationship include a sense of trust which comes from honesty and transparency, respect, humor or playfulness, tolerance for differences, supportive attitudes, effective communication, fondness, and love.
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