By Sarah Doherty, a Relationship counsellor and sex therapist. Since 2009 Sarah has been helping hundreds of couples and individuals to create more satisfying relationships and sexual intimacy. Everyone deserves to have happy relationships and sex. To help you we have our expert Sarah on hand to share advice.
Why We Need to Let Go of Romantic Fantasies
Real down to earth vulnerable connection is not the type of love fantasy we grow up believing. It’s not finding “the one” or being rescued or finding a soul mate. We need to redefine real love as something less perfect and much earthier.
1. Embrace Relationship as a Journey Towards Self-love
A relationship is not about finding someone to complete you or take care of you, but a way of teaching you to love yourself and potentially correct the distortions of our early years and socialization. It takes courage and resilience to really sit with the uncomfortable realities that being in relationship uncover. Whatever we blame or attack the other person for doing or not doing, it’s usually a coded message about something much deeper. It’s much easier to get in touch with the good in your partner when you value and love the good in yourself.
2. Let Go of Romantic Fantasies
Love your individual time as much as the time together. Don’t give up your identity to merge with the other person and continue to take responsibility for your own life and happiness.
3. See Your Partner for Who He or She Really Is
At the beginning, we see everything from an idealised vantage point and over time we gradually wake up to the real person we are in a relationship with. They or the relationship is never going to go back to what it was at the beginning. Embrace the whole person and if you are finding it impossible to accept the reality of the other person, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your compatibility or look deeper into how much you can accept yourself. The more critical and judgemental you are of others, the more likely it is that you disown parts of yourself you believe are bad or unlovable. Working towards loving and accepting yourself, often brings greater compassion and acceptance for others too.
4. Be Willing to Learn from Each Other
That argument that keeps coming back like a boomerang is a metaphor. Look past the obvious and take time to ask each other what the upset is really about. Be open-minded and curious about why your partner sees things the way they do and be prepared to listen rather than defend!
5. Work on Yourself
Much of what upsets you pre-existed this relationship. Yes, that’s right your partner is not causing it! They may well be adding to your deepest hurts but they likely didn’t cause them in the first place.
6. Value The Small Things
The day-to-day gestures and caring become the loveliness of sharing a life with a partner and cumulatively do become extraordinary. It’s not the grand holidays or meals out, as much as the thoughtfulness and ability to give time to each other that create a sense of safety and trust
7. Be Realistic
If emotional intimacy and sex are absent something is wrong! Don’t ignore important parts of the relationships and expect them to miraculously get better on their own.
8. Let Go of Expectations
If you are using romance and constant togetherness to fill a void in yourself, you are expecting the other person to be the antidote to your loneliness or fear. This in time will be a great source of conflict, as increasingly the other person will be unable to meet your needs, without huge sacrifice to themselves. So creating a toxic entanglement. Entanglement is not a true connection, it’s a relationship based on fear.
9. Own Who You Are
Longing and searching for idealised romantic love is often a deeply unresolved wound in you. An original unmet need. True love exists by loving yourself first. You can only get from another person what you can and are willing to give yourself first.