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Posted: May 22, 2014 by Jeff Guenther
Hello, my name is Jeff Guenther and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and today on Mental Help Desk we are going to be talking about how there is no perfect partner.
In my practice I come across a lot of clients who are having many short term relationships and seem to be stuck in a constant state of casual dating even though they say the want to find a long term partner to settle down with. There are many different reasons that can be causing this to happen in their life but the reason I am going to be focusing on today is letting go of finding the perfect partner. If you can let go of it you might find yourself in a long term relationship.
In order to do this you’ll first need to let the honeymoon period come to an end. By all means, enjoy it while it lasts but then gracefully move on to the next phase in the relationship. While you are in the “mutual positive projection phase” as therapists like to call it, you often feel like you have found your perfect match! It feels like you are the center of their universe and you have a special connection that makes it possible to read each other's minds and predict their behavior. You get a bunch of dopamine hits in your brain and you don’t want this period to end. It’s important that this phase lasts a little while because it creates a strong base for the relationship.
However, when you start to see some of their flaws it doesn’t mean you have to jump ship and find the next perfect partner to go to the next honeymoon phase. You’ll want to ask yourself, what do you really want? Where do you see yourself 5, 10 or 20 years from now? Do you want to be in a long term relationship that has a lot of depth and shared emotional experiences? Then you'll need to hang tough. It’s about creating a sense of security and stability and real emotional connection. And that only comes in the next phase of the relationship.
The next thing you’ll need to do is delete your online profile (eventually). It can be fun to scroll through all the people listed on the site just like you might flip through a clothing catalogue. You're able to pick your favorite people and then meet up with them in person for a drink. You get a rush of anticipation and anxiety and you hope that the person can be perfect. You're actually creating mini honeymoon experiences on all these first dates. And if you want, these feelings never have to go away. You can keep on scrolling down on the website or swiping right on the app and meeting with as many people as you'd like. Online It always feels like there might be someone better out there. But chances are you'll never find that mythical perfect profile. It probably doesn't really exist. So Ask your self, how long do you want to be doing this? Do you want someone that you can invest all your emotionally energy in so that you'll grow closer and deeper? Or do you want to spread your energy out to multiple people? It’s fine if you do, just be conscious of what you’re doing and realize that your behavior may not be matching your desire.
The last thing I am going to talk about is finally grieving the perfect partner, or parent, in some cases. One thing that is common with folks in this situation is that as a kid you may have never really felt special or cherished by your parents. You parents might have been busy, or neglected you or maybe you had a sibling that took up a lot of space or attention? Now because you feel like you didn’t get enough as a child you might be compensating for that in your adult life by going overboard in wanting to be essential to these potential partners. You might think the “perfect partner” for you is someone that can meet those old unmet needs.
Two things. If this is true then you’ll probably be inauthentic, come off as desperate, and people will pick up on this. And secondly you’ll never find a partner to replace what you didn’t get as a child.
You should have gotten unconditional love from your parents. You’ll never get unconditional love from your partner. You’ll get imperfect love from you partner. They’ll disappoint you and let you down and you’ll do the same to them. That’s just how it goes. If you don’t ever let go and start grieving the fact that you didn’t have the perfect parent and that you’ll never find the perfect partner, then you might be stuck in this rut for a while.
So it's really up to you. Are you going to let the honeymoon period end and go into the next stage of the relationship which is more challenging but more fulfilling? Are you going to get off the online dating marry go round or are you going to stay on for a little while longer? And do you want the lack of attention your parents gave you to dictate how you behave in relationships?
If you need some help pushing through these problems you should think about talking to a therapist. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time on Mental Help Desk.