good enough relationship

Forget ‘The One’ and All Those Dating Disappointments! Here's How to Build a "Good Enough Relationship"

Imagine finding a partner who is stable, emotionally available, good communicator and growth-oriented. You’ll have chemistry… a sparky vibe. They’re in great shape, have a great career,  have lots of money, love animals,  enjoy travelling, is a foodie, and have no red flags. ….Sounds dreamy right? 

Finding your soulmate would be a dream come true especially since it would also mean that life would be sorted from then on. 

Most people seem to be looking for this person … “The One”

Many relationship experts like Esther Parel, the Gottman’s, Alain de Botton, etc talk a lot about how searching for ‘the one’ with whom we can live happily ever after, is a deeply problematic concept.
The idea of a happily ever after, where everything will magically work out … sadly doesn't exist. It could actually make our relationships and dates more unnerving. 

The expectations put on one person to meet all of our diverse emotional, bodily, and spiritual requirements is a big heavy ask. 

Then … would lowering expectations be the answer? 

Professor of psychology, Dr. Donald Baucom, found that people tend to get what they expect i.e. people with low expectations tend to be treated poorly in relationships, while people with higher expectations tend to be treated well in relationships.

Wait a minute … if one can’t have high or low expectations or ask for anything,  then what could we really do? 

We can possibly aim for a "Good Enough" relationship!
It might sound  like you're settling for less, but that's not the case at all.

In a ‘good enough’ relationship, you have high expectations such as being treated with respect, love and kindness; you and your feelings are valued; you can count on them for support  and to be loyal. You absolutely do not tolerate emotional or physical abuse.

A ‘good enough’ relationship is not all sunshine and butterflies. The romantic fairy tale bubble that we need to burst is where we find a relationship that's perfect; that needs no effort because things just fit right in place and that you are entitled to love. 

Love is effortful; the truth is that nobody is truly entitled to anything in that regard. To love someone is to put effort

You will have fights with your partner because well, that’s real life. It's really, really hard and disappointing. But the reality is that Everyone is going to disappoint and annoy us. No matter how cute, nice, happy, loved and perfect everything is, we would still feel a whole host of not so nice feelings like anger, sadness, frustration, guilt, pain, anxiety etc. These feelings are all a part of being loved and loving someone. 

To create a ‘good enough’ relationship we might first need to consider moving past the notion of ‘The One’; it can look like -  
- Using our anxieties to fuel curiosity about the other person and self. - Reframe dating to what you can learn rather than who you can find

- The importance of being present cannot be overstated, particularly in the context of relationships and getting to know someone. You won't be able to see them for who they truly are, if you are always looking for what they can do for you in the future.

 Instead of trying to find the one who meets every criterion, try seeking a partner with whom you can envision co-authoring a story filled with revisions and edits. Embrace the idea that no story is flawless! 

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Zahra Diwan

Zahra has over 4 years of experience working with clients within the therapeutic framework. She works extensively with young adults, and maintains a diary on Things That Help Us which is collation of insights she gains in therapy.

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