You’d hardly think so, given our society’s obsession with couples. Not that I have anything against couples, pair-bonding is a normal human activity, and it is the social norm. The problem is two-fold:
The first is that people feel that they need to be in a couple to feel complete. This places enormous pressure on the other to live up to this expectation. Even the archbishop who married Will and Kate last week in his sermon said that one of the problems with modern couples is that they expect the other to be everything to them. This is simply not possible, totally unfair and one of the reasons why so many relationships are dysfunctional.
The expectation of your partner to complete you, also removes the responsibility of the individual to develop their own personal self awareness and growth. It’s so much easier to expect the other person to fill your deficiencies rather than work on them yourself; and then you’ve got someone to blame for what you lack in yourself.
The other problem is that people think being in a couple is somehow normal and natural and therefore doesn’t need discussing. It absolutely needs discussing. Everyone’s idea of what constitutes being in a couple is different. We all have different boundaries and expectations, some culturally defined, others personal. And these change over time.
You need to come back to yourself first. What do you want, what do you need, what are your expectations/hopes/fears regarding your partner? Once you’re clear about this, you then need to be able to share those openly and honestly, without fear of rejection, without judgement of their input. Only then can the two of you create your own individual relationship, one that is unique to you. And one that continually changes and evolves over time.
Think of yourself as a circle, and your partner as a circle – how big is the over-lap and what does it cover? What only happens within the overlap, and what is yours alone?
There will be many other overlapping circles too – work, children, friends, activities – some of which overlap with just your circle and some which overlap both of your circles.
Try drawing this for yourself, then compare with your partner. Use this as an exercise to understand yourselves and each other more.
If you’re single, do it anyway to get clearer about what you want and need in a relationship. In doing this you’ll understand yourself more and you’ll attract someone appropriate, with whom you can share openly.
Two whole people who come together in realness and with individuality, it’s a beautiful thing.
Copyright 2011 Jacqueline Hellyer
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