From the outside, Ryan Gosling probably seems like a flawless boyfriend – there’s certainly no denying that he’s a handsome star. But maintaining a relationship, as he and Eva Mendes have done for well over a year, requires so much more than that. We all want the ideal relationship with the best partner, right? In our minds that person is very clear: always thoughtful, tuned into our needs, knowing what we hope for before we even have to voice it. So when you are dating someone, and they don’t act like that, do you immediately assume they aren’t right for you, or might they be worth a little more time and effort? More important, how can you make the distinction?
When it comes to your partner, many people’s notion is: if you loved me you would. If you loved me, you would be willing to spend Saturday with my parents. If you loved me, you would agree to eat vegetarian. If you loved me, you would shave every day because I ask you to. In fact, it sums up so much about our expectations that If You Loved Me You Would is a whole chapter in my book What About Me? The problem is, when your partner doesn’t do these things, it seems like they are being selfish and purposefully disappointing you. That is not always the case at all. In fact, often your partner’s choices are more about their own preferences and not a measure of their love for you. It is the act of placing your judgment on those actions that puts the negative spin on them.
We all come at things from a varied perspective, and much of that has to do with the families we grew up in. It might seem perfectly natural to spend every Saturday with your parents, but he is used to seeing his own parents twice a year. Or you might want to stop eating meat for one reason or another; but she loves meat, and that has nothing to do with how she feels about you.
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Disrespectful behavior that makes you feel devalued or bad requires other considerations. But if it is just a matter of dealing with your differences, despite the few bumps they might generate, it doesn’t have to mean the end of the journey. The goal is not to eradicate the disappointments, but to learn how to handle them, work through them, and move on. No partner is perfect, probably not even Ryan, so you want to be equipped to face the let-downs without letting the whole thing falling apart.
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