There are a lot of common, mainstream opinions out there about relationships these days:
1. A woman shouldn't need a man.
2. If you're not having sex often, something is clearly wrong with your relationship.
3. You can't be happy in a relationship unless you've satisfied your career goals first.
4. You should say at least 10 nice things to your partner a day to let them know you appreciate them.
Please raise a hand in your mind (or physically, if you want to) if you have heard any of these statements before.
I'm guessing that pretty much everyone has their hand up, right? I thought so.
I like to call these kinds of statements relationship shaming. Because that's really what it feels like.
These statements and opinions — often put out there to help us achieve "#couplegoals" — really just end up doing the opposite. They make us feel unhappy about the relationships we're in.
It perhaps is not on the same level as body shaming, but it still exists and it has to come to an end. Or at the very least, we need to stop listening to it.
If I don't tell my guy I appreciate all he does for me twice a day, does that make me a bad person?
If I don't feel like having sex with my guy every day, does that mean there's something wrong with my level of attraction to him?
If I'm struggling with my personal goals, does that mean I need to break up with him in order to achieve them and be happy?
These are the sort of questions I have asked myself after being confronted with mainstream thoughts about what today's relationships should be like. Articles I have read in various outlets have left me legitimately doubting the very nature of a relationship I once was over-the-moon happy with.
Listening to this bag of horse shit can be detrimental to our relationships if we let ourselves believe it.
Just because it works for someone doesn't mean it works for us. No relationship is cookie cutter. Like little relationship snowflakes, they vary greatly from one to the other.
These mainstream ideals about what makes a relationship "OK" or "normal" fill us with expectations we feel we need to attain in order to be happy in our relationships.
What we know about expectations is when they aren't met, we're disappointed. So, in essence, these ideals are setting us up for constant disappointment, not happiness.
I had been listening to this garbage for quite some time, and I found myself not only questioning the relationship I was in, but the man I had chosen to be with.
Why doesn't he do this like people say he should? Why doesn't he say things like this to me every day?
These expectations that had been built up in my mind only led me to disappointment time and time again. It really had nothing to do with what he was or was not doing, but how I had allowed myself to believe that someone else's perfect relationship and way of being should be my own.
I was standing and looking at myself in the mirror the other day (a place where a lot of deep thinking regularly occurs), and I finally snapped out of it.
Why do I even care about what people (whom I don't even know) think makes a good relationship? It really made no sense in my mind.
Since then, I haven't looked back. The only thing I focus on now is how I feel when I'm with my guy. Sure, there are times when there are parts of my relationship I would like to change, but I know that that is coming from my own personal need, not me trying to meet someone else's expectations.
The best piece of advice I can offer about how to make your relationship better and stronger is to not read any advice on the topic at all. Working out the kinks, bettering your bond and furthering the intimacy between you and your partner has to happen organically.
Listen to your gut, your feelings and your partner. Don't let anyone else's opinion be the definition of your happiness.