We all as social creatures have a deep and underlying desire to find that one perfect person to spend the rest of our days with. That one person when you meet, you feel an uncontrollable attraction to and an illogical sense of familiarity with. As if you’ve known that person for a lifetime, or perhaps lifetimes. Whatever you want to call it, films and TV series alike have romanticized the phenomenon known as the soulmate. But what do we really know about the perfect mate or the ideal partner? Psychology is finally shedding light on the mystery that encapsulates so many hearts and minds around the world in an effort to understand what truly makes two people compatible for a relationship.
The Issue With Compatibility
Dating sites like OkCupid.com or chemistry.com boast about their in-depth personality tests, and claim that someone with similar answers to the questions on their tests can result in finding the perfect mate.
6 THINGS A MAN IS ONLY WILLING TO DO FOR THE WOMAN HE REALLY LOVES
When a man loves a woman, nothing will stop him from doing these 6 things.
It was a few weeks after my incredible wedding to my wonderful husband that I started to worry about everything under the sun.
With all the pressure of becoming a wife, going to my first semester of college full-time and learning how to live with another person, my mental health decreased to the point where I was having full-blown panic attacks over the silliest things.
My anxiety got so bad that some nights I would just cry for no reason at all. I couldn’t stop, either. Sometimes, it was sort of a laugh-cry because I was laughing at myself for crying.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a metaphor depicting the end of times in the New Testament. They describe conquest, war, hunger, and death respectively. Dr. Gottman uses this metaphor to describe communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship.
The first horseman of the apocalypse is criticism. Criticizing your partner is different than offering a critique or voicing a complaint. The latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former is an ad hominem attack. It is an attack on your partner at the core. In effect, you are dismantling his or her whole being when you criticize.
Complaint: “I was scared when you were running late and didn’t call me. I thought we had agreed that we would do that for each other.”
Criticism: “You never think about how your behavior is affecting other people. I don’t believe you are that forgetful, you’re just selfish! You never think of others! You never think of me!”
In his book The Intentional Family, Bill Dougherty discusses “rituals of connection” as an important tool for successful relationships. A ritual of connection is a way of regularly turning towards your partner that can be counted on.
Erica and Rob, both in their late forties, have been happily married for ten years and are raising three children. When I asked Rob about the rituals in their marriage, he reflects:
We hug every day when I get home because physical touch is one of my Love Languages. Erica is not as affectionate as I am, but she’s up for it because she know’s how important it is to me.
Kevin values his quality time with Kim, and regularly organizes date nights for them. While Kim does find him sweet, she wants to spend more time with her friends. Kevin says this makes him feel lonely. This makes Kim feel suffocated and exhausted by his “neediness.”
“All happiness or unhappiness solely depends upon the quality of the [person] to which we are attached by love.” -Baruch Spinoza
Meet Steven. Steven has decided to become a psychoanalyst. Before starting class, the graduate school requires students to spend a year in therapy.
Six months in, Steven was doing well. He showed signs of a healthy and stable mind. So much so that his assigned therapist believed he wouldn’t need more than a few years, compared to other students who need an average of four.
Then he met Leah. He fell in love within a matter of weeks.
Whether we are in the process of falling in love, or have been married for 16 years, we all know that it feels amazing to be emotionally connected our partner. Much less understood is how a couple can start holding hands with a close connection and then begin the painful process of falling out of love.
The beliefs you adopt in pursuing your relationships determine the type of relationships you end up with.
We are attracted to those who confirm the beliefs we hold about ourselves.
Meet Miguel. Miguel plays games, hides his true intentions, and manipulates women to stay in a relationship with him. His beliefs about relationships cause him to naturally attract women who also play games and manipulate people. His ex-girlfriend Jamie, who doesn’t play games, was attracted to Miguel initially, but by the third date she grew sick of his behavior.
As soon as the engagement ring is slipped on, we are inundated with messages about how our relationship should be. Our friends and family tell us what we should tolerate and what we shouldn’t. It’s “common knowledge” that marriage kills sex, right?
What you believe about your relationship determines the relationship you end up with, and some of these common beliefs can be toxic. They lead couples down the wrong path, or worse, convince them that their marriage is hopelessly going to go up in flames.
These myths ruin countless healthy relationships just because a couple believes there is something fundamentally wrong about it.
We know you. You are a good person. A great person, in fact.
However, if we’re being completely honest here, you aren’t patient as you would like to be. Especially with your spouse. You get a little irritated, annoyed, frustrated, and agitated with him or her from time to time. Okay, daily. And for good reasons (at least, they seem like legit reasons to you).
Seriously, who wouldn’t be irritated if their husband always left the gas tank in the car on empty, or if their wife went out to eat four days a week and then tried to hide it. Frustrating, right? Real issues, right?