A lot of dating advice says something like, “Be realistic in your expectations,” and they are right.
Not RIGHT, but right.
It is true, but it is not THE TRUTH, and it’s easy to get confused.
All of my exes told me that my desires were unrealistic.
Well, all of my “serious” relationships did, and many of my casual ones, too.
You know what I learned? That people will tell you that your standards are wrong when they don’t meet your standards.
Back in the days of craigslist personals, I’d get messages from people who read my ad, did not fit what I was looking for, but who felt a need to tell me that although they KNEW they didn’t fit what I was looking for, here were the qualities they did have…
And when I wrote back, saying “Thank you, but I’m pretty committed to what I’m looking for, best of luck!” it was common (like nine times out of ten) that they would shoot back at me and insult me, insult what I wanted, and tell me I was being unrealistic.
More, many of them would then watch for future ads, and write with something like, “Still here, huh? Want to try some of [all this], now?”
They not only thought my standards were wrong, but they invested themselves in trying to correct them for me, a total stranger on the internet.
Didn’t work for them.
Didn’t work for my exes in the long run.
All of my exes told me that my desires were unrealistic. My current decided to show me that they weren’t enough.
When I met my current partner, we were both tired. Disillusioned. Frustrated with wanting so much more out of life and out of love.
We had both independently arrived at a point in our lives where we just said, “Fuck it. I’m gonna be 100% unapologetically me, and get what I want out of life, or I won’t.”
And when we met, we stuck with that.
And as we started getting to know each other, we made an agreement to be open and honest, and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work, but that we were done lowering our standards for others.
And, although we didn’t say so at the time, we both also decided to really show the other what we loved about them, and encourage that radical authenticity.
It was the beginning of a whole new life for me.
It changed my world.
My desires were not unrealistic. They were just not a good fit for those previous partners.
It seems so obvious now.
Like “I coulda had a V8” obvious.
Like “I spent 15 years figuring out something that in retrospect is totally DUH,” obvious.
But rather than lament that it took me so long (because I now acknowledge that it takes a while for certain truths to sink in), I now just celebrate that I’ve gotten there, and I try to share that with others, in the hopes that wherever you are in life, you get to experience the love and acceptance and joy and affirmation of desires that I do.
Because I’m not super-special. Probably less special than most.
But I digress.
So, back to the question:
What is realistic to want in a relationship?
The quick answer is: ANYTHING.
The longer answer is:
Anything, but not everything.
All of the foundations, but not all of the details.
All of the important stuff, but not all of the unimportant stuff.
All of the needs, but not all of the wants.
I did NOT get all of the details I imagined in our relationship.
I still don’t. I also get a lot more that I never imagined, and that contribute to the feeling of getting what I want and need—even if I didn’t know I wanted and needed it.
I’ll probably come back to those ideas in another writing, because there’s a lot here to unpack there, and I’ve written and talked a lot about needs versus wants, for example, and I still get those questions pretty constantly.
But in this, I will talk about a friend of mine, who when negotiating for a scene, prioritizes the question, “How do you want to feel?”
And in a relationship, my greatest priority is that the sum of everything—all the goods and bads, all the sexy stuff and the responsibilities, all the give and the take—all adds up to both of us getting far more out of the relationship than we put in.
BOTH of us.
That’s how I want to feel, and how I want him to feel.
What are your thoughts?
Have you been told that you have unrealistic expectations from a relationship?
Do you think that you might be focusing too much on what you want and the details, versus what you need and the feelings?
Or, do you think that they are wrong?
Or, perhaps (and this was my experience), could it be both, and you could take some time to reassess what is really important to you in a relationship, and what you can drop as “nice to have, but unessential details”?