Yesterday love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away
Oh, I believe in yesterday – The Beatles
– by Anonymous Talkspace User
When we first start to fall in love, we become infatuated with one another, driven by our admiration and passion and excitement for our partners. But, regardless of how much we may try, as the relationship progresses these things eventually begin to fade. I think that is when they are replaced by mutual respect, support, and loyalty (or at least they should be). I think that is when real love sets in. But, if we’re being completely honest, we must admit that fostering mutual respect, support, and loyalty takes a hell of a lot of work.
Some of us may go through a mourning period when we realize that real love is not as sexy, or romantic, or full of spontaneous excitement as the infatuation faze. And with that realization, our partner’s imperfections and character flaws start to seem more and more significant.
As we’re raised to believe real love is supposed to come naturally and easily, we may not realize that once the infatuation phase is over, it’s time to put some serious effort into our relationships. And that was exactly what initially happened in my case.
When my partner and I moved in together, it pains me to think about how naïve I was. Because my parents got divorced, I was determined to make our relationship perfect and I had very specific ideas of what that concept entailed. This of course presented a problem. Turns out, when you share a life with someone, you should never ever assume you know their thoughts and feelings when you make plans that concern the both of you. However, I didn’t really grasp that at the time and figured that my ideas were so good, there was no way I could be proven wrong about them. I was.
I thought that the way I pictured our interactions, expected my partner to act, and hoped to be treated were “correct” ideas, but the right term was “subjective”.
My partner too had subjective ideas about all of the same things, and they greatly differed from my own; I think we both took that somewhat personally.
As we continued our co-habitation, we tried really hard to impose our ideas about our ideal relationship onto each other. And it didn’t go well. We started to perceive each other as additional stressors in our lives, a source of emotional conflict that cut deep at the heart. It was bewildering and confusing, and it was extremely difficult to deal with. We couldn’t comprehend how two people who are so much in love could hurt each other so often?
I had to do a lot of soul searching to admit that I did a very poor job at trying to understand my partner.
Rather than practice understanding, I insisted on being understood, which I suddenly noticed became my primary objective.
Although it would be a long while before I’d start seeing a therapist, what I eventually learned is that maintaining love is a mutual effort; the secret to success lies in remembering that you’re on the same team – you have to be each other’s biggest advocates.
Dear Therapist is an ongoing series of articles. Check out the other posts here!
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