When I was much younger I would look at the future and place great expectations on myself. I thought that by the age of 25 I would be married and on the way to having kids.
I just turned 24 and as each day goes by I realise more and more of how much of a silly expectation that was.
A couple of years ago, I had a massive break down with one of my exes because I told him I didn’t feel like he was putting enough effort in. That there was a lack of ‘romance’ and that this was his fault. At the time, he listened and then promptly left – leaving me shaking in shock, physically ill and in deep regret of what I had said. Part of me realised that this was my fault, moreso than his. Within a few days, we had sorted through my insecurities and the relationship lasted for another 2 or so years until it reached it’s natural expiry date when we realised we didn’t have the strength as a couple to move on to the next phase of our relationship.
When it comes to relationships and life in general, we are all swayed by media, comparisons to other people and Hollywood ideals that set unrealistic expectations. I thought it was only women, but I’m beginning to realise more and more that males are also very much influenced by these outside forces as much as women in some circumstances.
Hollywood and global corporations have manufactured a lot of expectations, particularly in regards to our physical appearance and relationships, to make a few bucks here and there and thrive off our willingness to devour whatever they deliver.
Think of engagements, traditionally a diamond wasn’t the ‘rock’ of choice that men bought their fiancées. Engagement or betrothal dowries stem far back in time, and varied from livestock to pieces of clothing as well as jewellery. It wasn’t until the 1930s that De Beers used ‘diamond rings’ as the be all and end all when proposing to your future wife. A very effective advertising campaign and a strong focus in Hollywood movies has led to diamonds being the accepted minimum standard in todays society for proposals.
It seems there is more value placed on the size of the diamond and how pretty the ring is rather than the fact that two people have agreed to make a lifelong commitment together… which to me, holds just a tad more value.
Don’t even get me started on weddings! Couples these days are spending $30k on average on ‘one day’ of their lives before they even have a house deposit saved, because Hollywood and society have manufactured this extroadinarily expensive belief that this ‘one day’ is the most important day of your life and therefore it is ok to spend what could be money on a solid investment, on decorations and making guests ‘jealous’ of what you have conjured up.
I have always preferred the idea of eloping to be honest.
When it comes to relationships, it’s just perfectly normal to place expectations on what you hope to achieve out of it, but sometimes these expectations are completely unhealthy and will leave you more miserable than happy on a constant basis.
Hollywood also tells us there is meant to be ‘a spark’ or that we’re meant to ‘just know when you find the one’. I’m sorry but I really don’t buy into that bullshit. The amount of movies where men just fall in love with the woman within a week or two and are ready to have babies is so far from the truth. Or scenes where men are walking down the street, spot ‘the one’ and it’s true love from that point onwards.
Yes, sometimes this does happen in real life – but these days people on average are dating a lot longer than historically before they even make that decision. The average time from dating to engagement used to be six to fourteen months; these days the average is 2.8 years. It’s not like these men just wake up one day and say, ‘hey she’s the one’… It is based on a relationship full of hard work and love, a mutual respect for each other and knowing that the other person’s happiness is just as important if not more important and tied directly to your own happiness. However, Hollywood would have us believe that their is no value in a long term ‘relationship’ unless you are married or engaged and even then, the longer you take before getting engaged or before getting married, is obviously BAD for the relationship and a sign of weakness in the relationship.
Hollywood would have us believe that unless there is a ‘spark’ there is no value in the relationship – that it is destined to end badly. There are too many expectations placed on ‘sparks’ or ‘sudden realisations’ rather then the feeling of joy and happiness someone gives you, the strength of your friendship, the passion in the bedroom, the physical attraction, the willingness of two people to work through difficult tasks, the respect and love your family and friends have for them, the laughter you share and the moments that make lifelong memories. I will always place more value on these important aspects of a relationship than I will on some Hollywood notion that I’m meant to feel ‘a spark’.
Sure when I was a teenager this ‘spark’ was something I believed in, but as I got older and experienced my fair share of heartbreak, I started to realise what I valued more and what actually made a strong relationship work. A spark was important in the start, but beyond the first couple of dates there are far more important values that you need to look for. A spark isn’t going to get you through the years, but deep commitment, mutual respect and friendship will.
When looking for a partner, you’re looking for much more than a notion that ‘they may be the one’ because to be honest, there may be more than just ‘one’ out there for you. It’s a stupid notion to think that there is only one person in the whole world that is made for you – that would be such a tiring task to find them and one that majority of the population would not be able to complete before they died. Oh, and if Hollywood has taught us anything, it is that everyone falls in love in New York, even though just under 50% of men and women in New York have NEVER been married.
If you base your expectations on what you THINK a relationship, career or your position in life is MEANT to be rather than what you want it to be, then you are always going to get a gut wrenching feeling of guilt and confusion because what you have, even if it may be great, will never be good enough in comparison to what you think you should have/what society/hollywood tells you, you should have.
Did anyone ever maybe think that divorce statistics are so damn high because we have relied on media for so long to dictate our relationships rather than making our own minds up? Relationships of our grandparents lasted much longer, and I can’t help but feel it is because they didn’t grow up with TV or movies on hand, telling them day in and day out what a successful relationship had to look like. They made their own minds up.
Trust me, the amount of times I’ve ended relationships or fought with exes because they weren’t putting ‘effort’ in was ridiculous. My notion of ‘effort’ was romantic dinners every Friday night, random presents during the week, and the most mind blowing sex on a daily basis. Instead of appreciating what effort the individual put in, in their own way, I was basing my expectation of ‘effort’ on what Hollywood had fed me since I can remember.
I still regret every fight I have had over this notion, and I wish I knew this much earlier because the amount of stress I put on past relationships when they didn’t live up to my Hollywood-ised expectations, was ridiculous. I have hurt alot of really decent guys based on this.
Instead, these days I have just learnt to take everyday one step at a time – allow yourself to just enjoy whatever goodness is being made available to you. You deserve to be happy and deserve to have fun. You don’t deserve to miss out on amazing opportunities because of some bullshit expectation you have been brainwashed to believe is a societal norm.
If you are happy in a relationship… then allow yourself to be happy.