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We won’t find the ‘right’ partner but we may find the good-enough partner 

4 October 2020

One of my favourite relationship thinkers is Alain de Botton, who does a good job debunking the expectations many of us bring to our intimate relationships.

Fuelled by the messages of pop songs, romantic comedies and fiction, many of us have been conditioned to expect our partner to be a ‘soul mate’. We will not only feel completely in love with this person but they will also be our best friend, our supporter, they will understand us completely and forgive us our flaws. 

In one of his video talks (see below) De Botton describes the misconceptions many of us bring to our relationships and how we may need to give up the idea of being with the ‘right partner and embrace the idea of the good-enough partner.

Watch here..

We also expect them to get on well with our family and friends and, perhaps, be a great mother/father to our children.

Of course, this is a rather unrealistic expectation to place on one person, and is often accompanied by disappointment over time. 

As De Botton says: “It’s very hard to diminish hope around love because there are vast industries designed to inflate our expectations.”

This is part and parcel of the relationship journey. There is a honey moon period that lasts anything between six months and two years. After that, we usually begin to feel rather disappointed with aspects of the other person. Those character traits we once thought were cute or endearing have often become irritating.

That is where the real relationship begins, when we begin to see our partner as he or she really is, rather than the ideal soul mate we longed for, and persuaded ourself we had found at the beginning.

De Botton adds that, while we will not find the ‘right’ person, “We will probably all of us manage to find a good-enough person…and that’s success.”