“Love has the capacity to grow when you give and to diminish when you keep it to yourself.”
Which would be the alternatives to the unshared expectations that linger in the depth of our subconscious? Of course, we can set contractual rules. It’s just that, when it comes to rules, it seems that those who what to escape into the magical world of the land where anything is possible (the carousel with dreams named Sentimental Disneyland) feel as their stomach is shrinking, because the rules are only for the office, so for work, isn’t it? Let us at least have our way in our love life!
Well, usually, when somebody “has their way” by breaking the (unwritten, of course) rules of love, somebody else suffers. If you are one of those who want to avoid several misunderstandings, disillusion, and disappointments and have as much freedom as possible to enjoy the choices they make in the long run, this article is for you!
In my non-specialized experience regarding the meaning of mental health, the following rules are welcome to fulfill the realistic expectations that you might have… on the condition that your partner also agrees to them.
1. This is not an open relationship. As soon as you have agreed that you are a couple, date your partner only. Friends are welcome to remain friends. If you want to be with somebody else, then first break up with your current partner and only afterward take your chance with another one! However, a relationship is not worth being broken, maturely speaking, because you get the hots for somebody else but because that relationship does not actually satisfy your needs.
2. Don’t break up via SMS, Facebook messages, e-mail, or other remote communication means. This is a rule that is worth being set from the very beginning of the relationship. Your partner deserves a discussion face to face in which they would understand, accept and respect this decision. The place and time of the discussion must jointly be set and there should be a willingness for at least a subsequent communication regarding the decision.
3. If there is something you are not OK with, say it (respectfully). Your partner can’t read minds. If you tell them, it might be easier for them to meet your desires, expectations, and needs. If you don’t tell them, then you risk suffering in silence. If you want something else to happen, then say it.
4. Accept your partner as they are. Do you want to change them because you love them? Wonderful! Be a role model for them and inspire them! Your partner is not forced to be as you want them to be. You are to live on this Earth according to your rules and expectations. Your partner is here also to live according to their own rules and expectations. If these happen to meet or if they meet due to love and can become your joint expectations and rules, then this is great! For this to happen, one needs acceptance and communication.
5. Don’t criticize your partner in public, don’t team up against them not even as a joke. Praise them in public, and if you have something to blame or criticize them for, do it in private! Your dissatisfaction must be expressed, if you choose to express it, first towards those who cause them and not concerning third parties.
6. If you don’t agree with your partner, tell them that. Don’t be afraid of hurting them. If they are not able to put up with their own emotions, how do you think that they are going to put up with yours? Tell them how you feel, what you think, and what you want in a respectful and accepting manner and see what happens. You can be in disagreement without being in disharmony.
7. In a love relationship, it is important and useful for both to make efforts and sacrifices for things to work well. “I love you” is a beautiful sentence but this doesn’t tell you what the other wants from you. After a while, love is no longer enough and most often it doesn’t include all the sacrifices in the world, so it is a good idea for both to make comparable efforts. It may be OK for a while also if one works harder and the other one almost not at all – it’s just that it is not a good idea to expect the relationship to last long-term under these circumstances. Those who carry others on their backs are not called partners but carriers.
8. If something is important to you, then explain why it matters so much to you. Your partner is willing to listen and understand you. However, they cannot read minds. Learn how to negotiate.
9. The various services that one of you does to the other are not obligations. If, for instance, you are a very good programmer and your girlfriend asks you to design a website for her that takes a lot of your time, you may not ask her for money but you may want to receive something from her in exchange, also professionally. Or if you do the dishes once or twice after you have dinner together, it doesn’t mean that’s where you belong and from now on you will be obliged to do the dishes each time. Each must be responsible for themselves and autonomous, especially as women are claiming their right to equality more and more.
10. Who you are in a relationship may change in time. You may want to grow, know yourself better, and make different choices in your life. The meanings that you find now in your life may not be the same as those that you used to find 10 years ago or that you will find in 10 years. That is why you must develop together, not separately. And if you develop separately, to what point does the joint road you share, go? For two people to stay together in the long run, they need compatibility, a joint direction for the development, and a similar or adjacent rate of development.
All these are mere suggestions, not necessarily how I consider that everybody should think. I have come with this small decalogue of the “ground rules” that I consider to be important and are all supported by good reasons and maybe wisdom. Since I have criticized the wrong thinking regarding expectations, I suggest a new set of expectations – this time, constructive: I plan on being able to expect others to obey the rules and objectives jointly agreed upon. I can expect those contracts that I set, verbally or in writing, to be complied with. These expectations are better grounded in verifying reality than those from which the majority starts.
Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2015-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Propun 10 reguli pentru ca o relație sentimentală să funcționeze“ previously published by Marcus Victor Grant in Romanian at the 11th of February 2016 on Discerne. Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved. Originally written in 2015. This article has been considered the 9th best article in quality from all the articles written and published by me in 2019.
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