One of my favorite ideals is I’m waiting for “the one” or my “soul mate”.

So many people have this ideal that they have a soul mate out there or they are holding out for “the one.” No one is perfect and often individuals don’t know themselves well enough to know who is perfect for them anyway. I often ask people who are entering into a relationship or thinking about getting married what they have to offer the relationship.

It still amazes me after decades that people hesitate and look confused. They don’t know how to answer the question but can tell me right away what they want in a relationship.

Here are the reasons waiting to find “the one” is an ideal.

  • Commercials – have drilled into our psyche that everyone needs to be happy and hold out for their perfect man or woman (companies usually target woman because they can appeal to their emotions).
  • We read juicy love stories or enjoy romantic comedies on television or at the movies. We think we can have that type of relationship. Now you need to ask yourself, are all those actors (who have several writers coming up with all the great lines) married in real life or still searching for the fantasy that they believe is still out there?
  •  If you are out with a group of friends and one is attractive while the other is okay-looking, but funny, who do you approach or talk too? I have heard from so many people, including some professionals there is usually a chemical attraction. I will tell you that there can also be an intellectual attraction, humorous attraction, athletic attraction, and more. Remember, looks fade, personalities don’t.

So, setting the record straight, I believe you may have “the one” or your soul mate, but it doesn’t happen like it does in the movies. It takes years to understand your mate and sometimes yourself.

As people mature their interests, goals, ideals and situations change. When this occurs and you are able to work through all the changes, you may find you did marry your soul mate. When you are with your soul mate, you are able to work through all the normal issues that arise every day and respect each other enough to understand the changes. You have to be comfortable and honest enough with each other to confront challenges together. It takes a lot of work, patience, a sense of humor and kindness towards each other, especially when you are to mad or upset to want to do any of the above. That is what makes “soul mates.”

One of my favorite fantasies that I hear often is “I can train or change him.”

This is completely false.  A favorite psychology joke is, how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? None. The light bulb has to want to change. After years of training in behavior modification I have learned you can modify undesired behavior, but you can’t change hard wired genetics. The “light bulb” would have to want to change. You can also only modify simple behaviors like using good manners vs. bad manners. Becoming neater or more helpful around the house with small simple tasks like replacing empty toilet roll or putting their cans in a recycle bin. Even these seemingly simple tasks are not easy. It takes daily reinforcement, praise and compliments.

You may also want to ask yourself, if you want to change your partner, are they the right partner?

Here is an example from my experience. My husband did not like to grill outdoors because he lacked experience and when he and the boys got together in the summer they would talk about grills and grilling. Not wanting to look foolish my husband started grilling with little success. He wouldn’t ask how to grill a steak because he felt he should know how, after all, he was a guy. When he first started grilling I would complement him on his grilling and say the food was good. He knew it wasn’t good (he had taste buds), but because I was willing to eat it, he continued trying. Eventually he became more confident, asking friends and his butcher how to grill certain foods. After the third summer he became good at grilling. So, it will take time to alter a behavior (even years) but I could never change his insecurity about grilling. I was only able to modify his grilling so he felt better.

Moral of the story is don’t fall prey to common myths and ideals and you’ll have more success finding and maintaining a healthy relationship.