Recently, I went on a date with a guy I had been crushing on for a long time. I believed that we were totally compatible, and that once we got the chance to sit down and have a conversation about our hopes and dreams over sips of hot chocolate that everything would fall into place.
Unfortunately, I was mistaken. While there was nothing really bad about the date itself, there was no spark; there was no connection, no chemistry, no nothing. I thought to myself that I was probably overthinking it:
We had chemistry in the past, so of course it’s still there! We were both just off because it was the first date.
Obviously, I was just lying to myself. But then I started to wonder if it had been my fault that the date sucked, or if my apprehension turned a potentially successful date sour.
I soon discovered that the answer was “no.” Neither of us did anything wrong – we just did not click. Period.
I realized that I had made this regular guy – who I didn’t actually know that well at all – out to be some stock, one-dimensional fantasy of what I wanted in a significant other; I projected my idea of a perfect guy onto someone who - if we're being honest - was a complete stranger.
Based on the countless stories of failed romance that I’ve been privy to in my short life, I’ve noticed that I’m not an anomaly - this is a common trend. We tend to pin our hopes, wishes, and fantasies onto one person, and they start to become just that: a fantasy. Before we know it, we make one person out to be our own personal Ryan Gosling without realizing it. We begin to love the idea of them and forget that they don’t fit the mold that we’ve specially constructed for them. When we discover that they’re someone completely different from what we anticipated…we can't help but initially reject and deny it.
That’s why it’s so important to actually know who we’re in love with and to love them for who they are instead of trying to squeeze them into our impossible ideal. You might be engaged to someone who doesn’t share your same views on raising a family, but you brush it aside because they’re so funny and they make you laugh. You may feel like your significant other doesn’t respect you enough, but they’re attractive and have a high-paying job, so it’s probably just your imagination, right? Wrong.
People expect other people to serve as their problem-fixers, their knights-in-shining-armor, their princesses, their saviors…until they’re slapped in the face with reality and realize that their sculptures of perfection are real, living, breathing humans that have their own unique feelings, expectations, and flaws. The last thing you'd want is to wake up one day to realize that the person you thought you were in love with is actually a perfect stranger.
I think the best lesson to learn is that we’re not going to find a significant other that can check off every box on our “perfect person” sheet. We’re not going to meet someone who fits all of our expectations… and we shouldn’t be looking for that. People are their own people, and if we can’t love them for who they are instead of who we hope they would be...then we shouldn’t be with them.