We are conditioned by the society and the cultural norms so much so that we believe “true love”, a “soul mate” and a “perfect partner” is waiting for us somewhere out there. Children grow up with the assumption that marriage is inevitable. Finding true love and “the one” is like one of the most important goals of our lives, and failing to fulfil this “mission” can make us miserable. The societies have created certain norms for couples as to how they should behave, think, and feel. They have set expectations from each person regarding their roles, and even how to relate to the other. This is more than enough for people to find themselves in situations where they feel the burden of the need to fulfil others’ wishes and expectations all the time.
Partly because of the pressure from the society, there is even a more annoying and destructing thing happening: people start to have their own set of expectations which must be met by their partners. Sadly, the extent to which these expectations are met is seen as a requirement for the love when in reality that love would be conditional. Most people think that they are in love, but what they actually experience is more likely to be associated with the need to be with another (or with that particular person). Love is not having the “need” for the other; it is more about “wanting”.
Such a co-constructed relationship potentially limits individuals in finding their true selves and establishing their unique identities. It won’t allow the separateness of self and other. It even feels as if it is the relationship itself that touches our existence rather than “relating” which would reflect a more open and authentic experience. We have this desire to merge into one soul, but love isn’t about oneness as it is impossible to control how our partners feel, behave or think. Love is experienced “together with” the other. Thus, the cause of the feeling of love is not the other person, but the presence of him/her. Appreciating others for their true being, rather than demanding that they fit into our expectations and the way we live our lives can result in a more flexible and fulfilling relationship. When partners respect each other’s freedom, expectations become less and less important. They will, then, flourish with the other.
One of the best things we can do to experience something closer if not exactly unconditional love and therefore to feel free is to appreciate the limitations and uniqueness of our partners. Love is not perfect. We are not perfect. Relationships cannot be perfect. Embrace the ambiguity, the unpredictability of future.
Love feels good when it is as free as possible.
“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.” – from Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood