Type “10 Steps to a Good Relationship” in any search engine and you’ll be presented with a rather long list of results. Almost all of the results are lists of standards for good, healthy unions — in someone else’s terms, of course.
Romantic relationships are supposed to be a reflection of what you want, but end up being a product of what those around you have to say. We’ve all heard the same tired pieces of advice before, from friends or cheesy late-night tweets: If your boyfriend doesn’t call you every other night, something’s fishy. If your girlfriend doesn’t text you back within a certain time, another guy is busy making her smile. If their profile picture isn’t a picture of the two of you together, they don’t love you enough.
Our parents are often repeat offenders. My mother carries around a slew of old-school sentiments, and tells me what she wants for my future whenever she gets the chance. She constantly reminds me that my future husband must pass a series of tests — he has to be the breadwinner, he has to be working while I’m home with the kids and he should never have to cook or clean.
While her opinions are heartfelt, her reasoning is problematic. Though I’m sure she would be elated if I end up in her preferred arrangement, I certainly can’t say the same. I think differently regarding my future partnerships. There’s nothing wrong with staying at home, keeping the house tidy and taking care of the kids, but I would love for my partner to occasionally cook dinner and I’d prefer if we both made a living without the emergence of a “breadwinner.” My mother has her preferences, and I have my own — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It would be wrong, however, if I felt as if I had to apply her guidelines to my own life.
There’s nothing wrong with adhering to conventionality — if anything, there’s a sense of comfort that results from sticking to the norm — but it should be noted that not everyone can be satisfied in a traditional relationship and that not everyone needs to be in a typical relationship to be satisfied.
Everyone is trying to give you advice on the perfect relationship. Congruity is what matters most: A relationship works when you and your significant other compromise and agree on what defines your relationship and what makes you both happy.
Take Facebook — a rather large part of present-day communication — into consideration. Changing your relationship status could be a milestone for many — it can signify a point at which the parties are comfortable with one another and are confident with displaying how official they are. For others, announcing and advertising your partnership on social media could be a potentially detrimental decision perceived as a sign of insecurity. Instead of listening to what others think about Facebook official status, you should do what works for you and your significant other. If your friends don’t think it’s a good idea but you don’t see any down sides to it, then go ahead and take the leap. If your colleagues regard becoming Facebook official as being the “next big thing” but it just doesn’t appeal to you, then remaining discreet on social media could be the right choice.
Relationships will always be a hot topic of discussion, like it or not. But despite the fact that we are constantly bombarded with advice for the “perfect” relationship, a “perfect” relationship differs for everyone and is a concept that can only be achieved after careful planning with your significant other. So instead of consulting Google for a set of guidelines, seek out 10 good steps on your own. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.