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The Perfect Partner

by Cate Russell-Cole  
11/02/2015 / Relationships


"Of all the misconceptions about love, the most powerful and pervasive is the belief that "falling in love" is love.
But it does lead us to make commitments from which real love is may begin, and gives us a
foretaste of the more lasting mystical ecstasy that can be ours after a lifetime of love."
M Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled

There are dozens of reasons why people want a life partner, whether it is to ward off loneliness, because it is socially acceptable and painted as a desirable image in our society, or because we are looking for a way to have our needs for love and belonging met. Everyone who has ever fallen in love knows that after a while, the buzz we get at the beginning of the relationship wears off. Some people panic and see it as a sign that the relationship is in trouble, others move to the next relationship seeking to find that feeling again, and others continue despite it's absence, and if they are lucky, come out with a deeper, permanent and more fulfilling relationship.

The initial stage of buzz can be termed "infatuation." Some scholars claim it is a chemical reaction essential to guarantee the continuation of the species, and some of them even claim that people become addicted to this chemical high, and will break up existing relationships to find it again. Others claim we view relationships the wrong way, and when we worry that the relationship is in trouble, we either bail looking for a more satisfying situation, or our anxiety drives us into deeper trouble as we strive to fix a problem that isn't there. If the partner's needs are not being met in a relationship, this is the time when the break up is most likely to occur. Life becomes more routine, mundane, and the original thrill of being together is watered down by bills that still need to be paid, and trying to solve who does what housework without a total meltdown taking place.

Somehow, whether it is through the media's influence, or the beliefs that are deeply entrenched in our culture, we believe that finding the perfect partner will make us happy. We will no longer be lonely, discontent, afraid, anxious, and our troubles will melt away like lemon drops, like Dorothy singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in the Wizard Of Oz. We all want our deepest emotional needs met, and we all want a better, more fulfilling, less anxiety provoking life. Is it realistic to believe that finding someone to live with and love with will provide all this like a magic cure? We know we aren't perfect ourselves and can be selfish and miserable at times. On some level we may even be afraid that we will hurt a partner, and can't possibly be all we expect ourselves to be in a relationship yet, we expect the partner to be magically perfect and want our expectations totally fulfilled by them. Often this doesn't happen, and many relationships, by divorce or break up, fail and come apart.

Multiple relationship break ups in our lives create a whole Pandora's box of problems. We have to deal with the rejection, the insecurity and fear of abandonment these failures bring into new relationships, and we also have huge "social problems" arising such as unplanned pregnancies, and unmarried mothers who don't receive enough support with living costs and parenting. We can become bitter about relationships, jaded and we lose our trust in other people, yet we search on for that elusive someone who will make us happy. How do we avoid this mess?

Part of the answer is knowing what you want in a partner, and not settling for less even if the wait is a long one. Another part is learning how to make yourself happy, so you are not seeking dependence on someone else to have a reason to exist. Find out what you love to do, what fulfils you and get out there and do it. No single person, or even a group, can fulfil you. Contentment is found within yourself, and that is the only place you can reliably find it once the buzz of love wears off, and your eyes are opened to find you have no knight on a white horse, just two very ordinary, imperfect human beings. The other answer is to hang in there with the partner you've got. If you are not in an abusive relationship and there are no major conflicts which make being together a nightmare, then be prepared to work on the relationship to see a mature, lasting love come out of it. Relationships take work. I am inspired by the title of Dr James Dobson's book "Love Must Be Tough." I have never read the book, but those four words have been a poke in the right direction, a reality call that shows me there is a way of making it work, but I have to be willing to work.

Any married couple you speak to who have been together for over twenty five years will tell you there have been good times and bad. There are times when you want to murder your partner, and times when it all comes into perspective and you realise how much they mean to you. Relationships involve an awful lot of the mundane processes of living. They are not always a thrill, or a stimulating experience, but when you are in a good one where both parties are committed to making it work, it is worth it! As the quote at the beginning of this article says, it is only after a time of staying together and letting love mature that the real love comes into the picture. That is the love that is patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. It doesn't demand it's own way, and neither is it irritable or touchy. It doesn't hold grudges. It doesn't keep a list of everything that has been done or said wrong. It believes the best in the other, it is loyal, and it is tough enough that it never gives up because it knows the value of the other person. Real love is not out to get it's needs met. It is prepared to share and to give, taking into account the other partner. It doesn't look for the hype and the buzz, it sees the person as they are, and cares for them. That is the best kind of love.

This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Written in Australian English.

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