It’s the question every client asks me:
What’s the tipping point between
Basically, we want to have self-worth. We don’t want to be an endless well of unmet needs.
In order for me to fully answer this, you’ll have to tolerate an abridged lecture on the history of marriage, relationships, and partner expectations:
From the mid 1800’s to 1965, the job description of the American Spouse centered around intimate needs such as to love, to be loved, and sexual fulfillment. Note that this wasn’t a particularly wealthy period of time in the States, resulting in people living primarily in highly populated areas.
As a result of this close proximity to others, community played a large role in the lives of everyone – married people included.
In 1966, Americans began to take part in ‘white flight.’ (If you don’t know what that is, click here now. If you’re white and you think you know what that is, click here anyway, because we can’t be reminded often enough).
The resulting mass exodus into suburbia did not so much create better quality communities as much as it resulted in a breakdown of the community. More wealth meant that people could live further apart and could now afford to buy assistance that they once turned to each other for.
Suddenly, Americans weren’t only looking towards their partners for fulfillment of their intimate and sexual needs – the role expanded to include the facilitation of each partner’s self-discovery, self-esteem and personal growth.
Are you feeling me yet?
Those needs that used to take a tribe of 25+ to fulfill were now projectile vomited on ill-equipped partners who also had similar fantasies which they imposed on their partners.
People: Your partner is just one person. She cannot possibly fulfill Abraham Maslow’s entire five-level hierarchy of human needs (I know. Click here).
And so the answer to whether or not you’re too picky is not necessarily binary. It goes beyond Yes or No. It’s more of an, It depends.
As our personal awareness has increased over time, so has our potential to show up in our relationship. Consequently, today’s couples who are in good relationships report levels of satisfaction unimagined by our grandparents.
But a successful relationship of that magnitude comes with a price:
In order to reach those heights of satisfaction, each partner in the relationship must be willing to commit to their own personal growth [read: therapy] on a continued basis – plus commit to learning relationship skills from a trained, licensed therapist, as well as committing to engaging in couples therapy throughout the lifespan of the relationship (yup, just like a car needs a mechanic).
Eliminate any one element from the above-reference paragraph and you essentially tug at a weight-bearing beam in the foundation of a house.
This is not only a rational argument (how annoying is it when someone attempts to validate their own position), it is upheld through research (Click. Here.).
If you want a rock star relationship, you need to train like a rock star. That means doing your own work, taking your own daily inventory, and remaining open to your ongoing growth and development so that you can meet your partner’s ever evolving needs.
“I’m no rock star!” you say?
Not everyone needs to be.
Adjust your fucking expectations.
Ask less. Give more.
Focus on what your partner does right rather than whether he’s effectively facilitated your self-actualization.
How do you know if your expectations are too high?
This is what I tell clients (shout out to you, A, for reminding me!):
Your expectations are reasonable only if:
Your partner has historically engaged in the desired behavior (your expectation).
Your partner has expressed a desire or willingness to meet your expectation.
That’s all I got.