Most of us grow up believing that one day a handsome prince or beautiful princess will come our way and lead us into a life of “happily ever after.” No one knows what’s going to happen, but we’re certain it will be magical. We spend our childhoods desperate to grow up so that our lives can finally start when we meet “the one.”
The one who will make us happy. The one who will take all our cares away. The one who will love us, and only us, forever and ever.
Finally, we will be wanted and desired. We will be happy and feel great. Now our lives truly begin.
Only it doesn’t quite work out like that. I found out the hard way.
The Reality of Relationships
Relationships work well when two people take responsibility for taking care of themselves and their partner. Together they create a great life. They discuss what each of them wants to do and make plans on how they can make it happen. They support each other in achieving their couple goals as well as their individual goals.
No one expects the other person to make anything happen for them while they do nothing.
A healthy relationship requires two individuals who both give their best efforts to being the best and most loving version of themselves. This requires action with a sense of purpose and agency.
The Notion of Romanticized Love
The notion of love we grew up with is unhealthy. It portrays one partner—usually the female—as the victim that needs rescuing, while the other partner—usually the male—is the hero that saves the victim from tragedy or from herself.
This model serves no one. It is an outdated fairy tale that instills unhealthy beliefs in us that don’t match the realities of human relationships.
I grew up believing that I was lacking and had to wait for someone to give me worth and purpose. I believed that I had to earn someone’s love and that then, they would take care of me and provide me with a good life.
At no point did I ask myself what kind of life I wanted. In my mind, this was up to whoever was going to choose me. I took a completely passive position in life. I didn’t need to have visions or make plans because why would I, if my life was going to be provided by someone else?
Now, it might sound ridiculous to put it all like that, but it’s true, and not just for me. I see it over and over again in my private practice as a psychotherapist.
We may say that we are fully functioning individuals who don’t want to be rescued, but this is not what is happening…