Why Conforming To The Societal Norm Of The 'Perfect Partner' Is Not Always Best

by Vanessa Santaguida

I never really believed in the notion of soul mates. The idea of meeting someone to whom you connect instantly and naturally was foreign to me.

I envisioned the process to be far more mechanical.

Connections, I had always presumed, were based upon common interests, intersecting future goals, educational experience, socio-economic status and so forth.

Profound spiritual links seemed like hocus pocus to me, so I sought to find someone who shares the preceding ideals. However, this checklist-satisfying way to search for a mate is severely flawed.

Firstly, it hinders an individual’s ability to get to know oneself because someone who is so focused on finding a partner who has specific qualities is likely to forget about his or her own self-development. Secondly, it fosters being closed-minded.

Telling yourself that you will only date a man who has a master's degree or one who makes six figures means that you will overlook men who have other great characteristics, which may be even more important to you.

In fact, by limiting your scope so absolutely, you may be unaware that certain qualities are so significant to you.

I never thought I could be happy if I was with someone who didn’t have his life together. By this, I mean a stable, full-time, high-income-generating job and a well thought-out, realistic, long-term life plan.

I later realized that while it’s my choice to desire this in a partner, it’s not fair for me to do so without requiring it of myself.

I had an epiphany one day and realized the irony of the whole situation. I realized I wanted my future partner to obtain what I lacked to some extent. I believed that growing up meant being mature and my nonconformist way of thinking did not coordinate with socially-accepted conceptions of adulthood.

Therefore, by having a significant other who satisfied these standards, I somehow came to believe that I, too, would fit in by the socialized definition of what’s acceptable.

The revelation forced me to dig deep inside my soul and question the importance of the quality I always believed I needed in a man. Upon doing this — and meeting my boyfriend — I realized it actually bared less weight that I thought.

I have had two successful, long-term relationships: a six-year relationship and a three-year one. So naturally, thought I knew the true meaning of love.

However, I recently recognized that all this time, I really did not have a clue. Society frames the way many of us view love. All the dos and don’ts cause us to lose touch with what we really want in a partner and even with what we desire from ourselves. Every criterion and every rule simply endorses conformation to norms.

All these rules went straight out the door upon meeting my boyfriend. The connection we had from day one triumphed the checklist I had held so dearly my whole life. Suddenly, there was no right or wrong; everything seemed pretty right when we were together.

My life since has become more beautiful. I’m in a happy, healthy relationship that is based on sincerity and love rather than expectations, demands and materialism. It’s better because by discarding this idea of a checklist, I stopped judging myself and holding myself to societal standards that merely made me feel pressured and unhappy.

If we attempt to adhere to standards set by others, we won’t feel the true depths of self-satisfaction when these aspirations are met, as they have been forged by an entity that desires nothing other than your adherence to social order. Societal norms create anxiety and should be taken with a grain of salt.

In reality, the only standards to which you should attempt to adhere are the ones you set for yourself. No one knows you better than you know yourself. You are the only one who knows what you really want in a partner and what you want for your life.

If you let your heart and soul guide you (within reason, of course), you will discover the answers for which you have so desperately been searching.

Forget what people may tell you; there is nothing wrong with soul searching.

Photo via We Heart It