Don't set yourself up for failure.
There’s no such thing as “perfect” when it comes to human beings.
The question that really matters, when you're looking for real love is this: Do you think you’re good enough to have a great relationship?
Most dating books try to get you to find your ideal partner. Embarrassingly, even one of my own books has a subtitle that states how to find your ideal partner. I wish I could change that subtitle. So let me square that here and tell you what I really think about the concept of the "ideal" partner:
There is no such thing as an ideal partner. There is only the good enough partner, and the great relationship.
Now don’t get me wrong, a good enough partner is actually terrific. When I say good enough I mean, not perfect. While there are no guidebooks for being a perfect partner or for finding an ideal mate, there are some solid guidelines that will determine whether your relationship will be great, just good, passable, or nightmarish.
First, determine what your relationship should be — for both of you — and make sure your ideas serve both a personal interest and a mutual one.
Fashion your great relationship around real concerns such as the following:
Should we put the relationship first over all other matters?
Should our relationship be fully transparent?
Should we be in full care of one another?
Should we protect each other in public and private?
Should we always ensure each other’s sense of safety and security?
Once you’ve fleshed out your principles for a great relationship, look for a good enough partner who’s willing to play in the partnership sandbox with you.
Make sure you both agree what the relationship should be regardless of your imperfections. For instance, in my marriage our relationship is governed by a set of principles that we both believe in. These principles protect us from ourselves and each other as well as outsiders.
These principles, or agreements, guide our behavior in the relationship because if we let our personalities, our interests, our feelings, or our whims guide us, we would likely no longer be happily married.
So to summarize, you do not need to be the embodiment of mental health, or the nicest person in the world, or anything other than yourself.
What you must do is be clear on what the relationship should be for both of you and then accept nothing else. Hopefully, you will expect and insist that your love relationship be fully collaborative, egalitarian, respectful, and sensitive. If that “ideal” partner of yours doesn’t buy into these principles, they are far from ideal — and not right for you at all!
If you have a question about finding your soulmate or how to bring a relationship back from the brink of breakup, Dr. Stan Tatkin will be live on Thursday, April 28, 2 to 3 p.m. eastern/11-12 pacific for the #Wired4Dating #TwitterParty. Join us for free advice and support + a special giveaway.