When I was a little girl, I fantasized that one day, I’d find my prince charming who was handsome and romantic, and he’d spoil me with flowers and all the other grand gestures I read about in fairytales. Heck, who am I kidding, I believed in this fantasy up to my early twenties, a time when I was convinced that there was only one soul mate out there for me and that love prevailed all.
Then, the universe decided to give me a good dose of reality.
I was a starry eyed romantic, and when I met my first real boyfriend at age 25, I thought that without a doubt, I had found “the one’. So, within two months we moved in together, and within eight months, we were common-law. Let’s just say that with that experience, I learned that rushing things is a fool-proof way to run head-on into a doomed ending.
And as much as I hate to admit it, a lot of what my parents tried to tell me was true. That compatibility in upbringing, culture, values, and life vision, are the building blocks of a healthy relationship. And without these things aligning, instead of building a solid foundation, you end up just piling a bunch of rocks on top of each other until they eventually fall down.
To burst my bubble even more, the one thing that I thought would never be a point of conflict became the biggest reality check of them all. Money….matters.
There’s a reason why money is the top reason why people divorce. As unromantic as it may sound, how each partner deals with finances, ambitions to create financial wealth and money management is a HUGE factor on if a relationship will make it, or break it. When I look back at that relationship, I understand now, that it didn’t work out not because either of us was to blame, or that we were bad people, but that the fundamentals didn’t align together.
I’m learning now to let go of my unrealistic ideas that may be a reality in teenage relationships, when bills, responsibilities and roles are not really thought about in the midst of all the fun to be had. Instead, it’s probably about time that I start having adult relationships, in other words, relationships based in reality versus in fantasy.
In healthy, adult relationships, love isn’t about finding someone to complete you or fill your voids, but being the healthiest and best you can be as individuals in order to come together as partners. You make the choice to be patient and understanding through the ebbs instead of trying to jump ship the minute the going gets tough. You try to understand that each person comes with different love languages, sensitive points and communication styles, and that time and lots of trial and error is necessary.
It’s challenging to switch your mentality when you’ve grown up socialized by North American standards of “romance”. I’m appreciating the simple, every day things that my partner does. Whereas before I would equate roses to romance, now I look at how he interacts with my family, the effort he makes with my friends, the listening and support he gives when I’m going through a stressful time. Sure, those things aren’t wrapped up in fancy ribbon, but when you’re thinking of building a life with someone, those everyday consistencies are the things that matter.
It’s a work in progress. But if you don’t evolve your ideas on what real relationships are based on and commit to the effort and time it takes, you may find yourself constantly disappointed and your high expectations never met. Here’s to a new year filled with healthy relationships, high standards but not unrealistically high expectations, and lots and lots of love.
Photo credit: Ernesto Lago