“I’ll tell you what has changed. I get more questions now about people who, in a relationship, may be always looking [to see] if there’s something better…because of the way media depicts famous people. People have to be realistic”
-Dr. Ruth Westheimer, in Time magazine, 5/20/19
Dr. Ruth on Seeking
Dr. Ruth has seen a whole lot! The quote above was in response to being asked what she’s noticed has changed over the years. It makes me sad. While I don’t idolize the days when people stayed in relationships no matter how miserable they were, I do think that the siren call of an imagined ‘other’ damages many relationships these days. How can a normal person compete with an imagined, ‘wonderful’ partner?
What does it mean to ‘be realistic?’ To me it means looking to see who you really are by examining both your own thoughts, and your actions. You can think you are kind…or efficient…or warm, but if your actions don’t consistently support that, well, then actually, you’re not.
In the same way, you should examine who your partner really is, not the imagined partner you thought you had when you got together. Some would say that means ‘lowering your standards.’ I would argue that means ‘right sizing’ your expectations, which provides an opportunity to simultaneously look for the positives you may have missed in your disappointment at the gap between reality and your imagination.
And that leaves the opportunity for appreciation, and love.
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