I often preach how I feel people seek romantic relationships for the wrong reasons. It’s not a new perspective to say that our culture approaches romantic relationships through lenses that don’t always show reality--Hollywood, fairy tales, and the ever-revered and elusive “American Dream.” The dream job, dream house, dream income, and dream relationship (eventually ending in a dream marriage).
The understanding is that this dream will make us happy and that happiness is the only reason for us to do anything at all. It’s become a motivation, carrying over into our relationships. We look for someone who will make us "happy,” but happiness is such a vague and changing thing. It’s shallow.
"If we go in with the assumption that 'I will make you happy always, and you will make me happy always,' then we are seriously dooming ourselves in the art of everlasting love."
Maybe I’m being too harsh on happiness. It’s not its fault it’s been cheapened and abused over the years. Still, it is fickle. Things that made me happy a week ago might sound boring or turn me off today. We are constantly moving in our tastes and preferences, and we hardly take the time to reflect on what exactly is changing around and within us. To expect someone we’re in a relationship with to move with us and suddenly understand us better than we understand ourselves is actually kind of insane.
When people ask me, “Does he make you happy?” I can't help but think that’s a misguided understanding of what should be at the center of a relationship; it’s a misconception of why we should seek out relationships in the first place. I get it though. I get that happiness is a blanket term. I get that relationships DO make us happy when we’re in healthy ones, but we need to understand that happiness is not the center of relationships, it’s the product.
If we want to succeed in love, we must be realistic in it. If we go in with the assumption that ‘’I will make you happy always, and you will make me happy always,’’ then we are seriously dooming ourselves in the art of everlasting love. American dating culture seems to have washed its hands of any responsibility it has on affecting the human heart.
"We are complex beings with complex emotions, thoughts, feelings, and expectations. Each of us gets things right and wrong, not always equal measure."
Healthy relationships in friendship, family, and romance help us grow. With the right people surrounding us, we are challenged to be the best versions of ourselves. Relationships should help us navigate ourselves, this world, and to have people sit with us in times of great joy and great sorrow, not to fill a void or check a box on a list of society’s successes.
Understand the responsibility we have to another person when we choose them as our partner and be aware of the reality of human behavior. We are complex beings with complex emotions, thoughts, feelings, and expectations. Each of us gets things right and wrong, not always equal measure. We get angry, sad, jaded, hurt, misdirected, misinterpreted, and missed. We often feel lonely, broken, and confused. We have wounds that are hard to speak to, and usually harder to heal. With all this, we move and grow as life wheels us around the sun.
Happiness is a result of quality human connection and meaningful relationships that require work to maintain. We have to give patience, understanding, trust, strength, and guidance as much as we expect it ourselves.