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You can’t have Beyonce and Jay-Z’s relationship.

You can’t have Ayesha and Steph Curry’s relationship.

You can’t have your best friend’s relationship.

You can’t have your parent’s relationship.

When we make other people’s relationships our goal we project unrealistic expectations on to our partner(s). When those expectations aren’t met, we find our selves disappointed and sometimes wanting to move on. Now I am not saying that there aren’t standards that we should hold our partner(s) to, but what I am saying is that you can’t expect your partner to be an Ayesha Curry or John Legend prototype; hell you can’t even expect for them to be a prototype of your parents. We sometimes set a high bar for our partners that is too high for them to reach because of the picture that we have painted in our head based on someone else’s relationship.

Parents can serve as models for their children to show what a healthy and stable relationship looks like. However, this is not the case for every child. While your model for what a healthy relationship is based off of your parents’ 30 year marriage, your partner(s) model of a relationship may be a little jaded. For example, let’s say that you have this expectation for a partner who cooks every day, washes all of your clothes, cleans your car every weekend, always picks up the tab, always drives when you two are together, and always makes sure that your tank is filled weekly. What do you do when they don’t meet these expectations? Do you question their love for you? Do you end it because they don’t do every single thing that your parent did for your other parent?

My parents have been married for twenty -nine years and while I too hope that someone can be willing to love me and put up with my quirks for that long, I also know that my relationship will never be just like theirs. My parents have provided a great model of what communication, negotiation, compromise, love, and care look like in a monogamous* relationship for me. On the other hand, I also acknowledge that how these things happen in my relationship will be different. The key to this is for me to acknowledge that my partner is not the same man as my father and has had different life experiences than me, which may or may not shape his expectations for relationships.

The problem with the #RelationshipGoal culture is that instead of having goals based off the real elements that make long lasting relationships work, the goals are based off of actions that are mostly seen at the surface level of anyone’s relationship. We see Beyonce and Jay-Z on a yacht in some exotic location and we are quick to tag it #RealtionshipGoal, but that’s surface level. Shouldn’t our relationship goals be a statement of depth? Shouldn’t they be based off the building blocks of friendship, love, reciprocal care, and communication skills?

We see beautiful couples together with their complimenting outfits, vacationing with their perfectly toned bodies, running the country, or their matching cars and we are quick to slap the label of #Goals in the caption of our posts. We never acknowledge the work they put in to get to that level as unit. We easily forget the pictures that we see or the brief encounters that we have with a couple are only a snippet of their life. We expect for these things to automatically happen within our own relationships with out thinking about the stepping stones along the way that made the smiling faces in that Instagram post or Snap match reality. Many of us strive for Social Media worthy relationships and do not strive for relationships that require us to actually put in the work that is required for them to last.

We go in with expectations of being cute and not with expectations of putting in the work.

#RealtionshipGoals Challenge:

  1. Talk to a couple that you feel falls into the category of #RealationshipGoals. Ask them about the times that weren’t so good and how they got through those times.
  2. Reflect on what you feel are at least three factors that make for a great foundation for a romantic relationship.
  3. If you are currently partnered, discuss your expectations with one another. One thing about expectations is that we never discuss them and automatically assume that our partners know what we expect from them. This could be something small or something big. This is a great way to see if they line up and where these expectations of #Goals come from.
  4. Think about where you have gotten these expectations (parents, grandparents, social media, television, etc.) and how they have helped or hinder your relationships.
  5. Think about how these expectations affected how you interact with current or potential partners.