Love, Heartbreak

Relationships, Like Life, Are Imperfect — How To Accept The Imperfection

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expectations in a relationship

Anyone who has ever lived knows that there are ups and downs in life. It is not always smooth sailing. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that relationships, like life, are imperfect, too. And if you don't learn to accept that imperfection, that's when you run into trouble.

Things don’t always go the way we would like them to go. People don’t always see eye to eye. Our partner doesn’t always do what we think they should do. There are expectations in a relationship, and there are disappointments.  

There is the idealized relationship, and then there is the reality. For many couples, the discrepancy between what is hoped for and what actually occurs can be devastating.  

RELATED: 19 Ridiculous Expectations That Keep Your Relationship Unhealthy (And Damage Your Self-Esteem)

However, it's important to remember that like anything in life, relationships are constantly changing, and the ebb and flow is a natural part of interacting closely with another human being.  

One of my favorite lines from the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club is, "Screws fall out all the time, the world’s an imperfect place." This quote was in reference to a screw that was taken from a door during high school detention by one of the students so the door would stay closed.  

However, it highlights this notion that things don’t always go as planned. We, like the high school detention teacher, need to be ready and willing to deal with the unexpected. We need to find ways to roll with the disappointments and frustrations and continue to move forward.  

We need to find ways to keep the door open, so to speak, even with missing screws, just like the detention teacher does in the movie. We need to find ways to work through relationship challenges and disappointments. We need to find ways to work through life's challenges and disappointments.  

Sometimes it's difficult to keep your heart open after screws fall out and doors seemed to have been permanently slammed shut.

RELATED: Sorry, Boys: High Standards Don't Equal High-Maintenance

When a relationship becomes wrought with conflict or when your partner has different expectations in a relationship than you do, it can feel hopeless. Yet it's helpful to remember that if two people want to make things work, they can.  

However, when both partners are not invested in staying together and working on things, they're unlikely to find a common ground and improve their relationship. It takes effort from both partners to keep the doors open and overcome challenges.

In my work with couples, unless both partners are willing to compromise and leave their comfort zone and approach things differently, it is difficult for them to be happy staying together. Many of my clients struggle with life’s ups and downs. Sometimes, when things are going great, and then a disappointment occurs, it can feel even more difficult than if things had not been so good from the start.  

This can be true of relationships as well. Sometimes, the highs make the lows seem even more painful. It's important to keep in mind that just because an individual may be feeling sad or discouraged in a particular moment, it does not necessarily mean that they will feel that way tomorrow.

Just because a relationship is struggling in one moment in time, it does not mean it is doomed forever. For every one of us, there will always be challenging days in our lives. There will always be challenging days in our relationships.  

Yet, there will always be better days too if we allow there to be. To quote the poet Anne Bradstreet, "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

We need to experience the negative to better appreciate the positive. If all else fails, and the screws that fall out cannot be repaired or replaced, try to remember that when one door closes, another one opens.

Life is always moving forward and changing. Similarly, the heart is capable of breaking and then regenerating anew. We only have one life to live and to love. Relationships and life will always be imperfect. If we accept this imperfection, we can live and love with our entire heart.

RELATED: How To Tell The Difference Between Having High Standards And Unrealistic Expectations In Your Relationship

Jill Kofender​ is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice. She has experience working with adults, couples, adolescents, and children, providing psychotherapy for anxiety, stress, OCD, panic attacks, social phobia, depression, medical/health concerns, self-esteem difficulties, and relationship challenges.