Are we expecting too much from our relationships?

Or should we be constantly seeking butterflies?

Hi, I’m Adele and I’m a self-confessed love cynic. The victim of cheating, or unhappily single I am not; I believe it’s possible to be happily in love and a cynic at the same time – in fact, i’m proof of that. Having been in a long term relationship for the best part of a decade, I can confidently say that Prince Charming doesn’t exist. But that’s not to say that my eejit in tinfoil isn’t grand, actually, he’s more than grand – he’s great, my number one fan, my best friend and partner in crime, but a knight in shining armour is a bit of a push.

Should I feel dissatisfied that my partner can’t pick up his dirty clothes from the ground without being moaned at, while Cinderella’s fella is out here putting shoes on every gal in the land? Well no, because Disney has conditioned us, mere mortals, into thinking that if your man isn’t showering you with romance every day of the week then he doesn’t really love you. But actually, this isn’t the case at all. Fairytales and the search for the picture-perfect happy ending lend it’s hand to this swipe culture we seem to have got ourselves caught up in, and it’s not a pretty sight to behold.

Swipe culture refers to the ‘thank u, next’ attitude we as a society have become attuned to.

We have everything at our fingertips and we’ve grown accustomed to the fast, straightforward and plentiful options presented to us. While this is great for many reasons, we do need to ask ourselves if this is damaging the way we view relationships? Psychotherapist Trish Murphy explains that swipe culture may just be doing that, “We seek relationships or connection and how we do this now is on apps, etc. This checking, if we have been matched, is addictive and it can ease any insecurity we might have about how desirable we are. The result is that whenever we need reassurance or we are bored, we can check our phones and this can lead to both thinking there is something better out there while at the same time undermining the connection you are actually having.”

Combining our want to find that perfect ‘one’ with our incessant need to continue swiping in search for ‘the best’, have we become so overrun with options that we’re gambling with our own happiness in search of some elusive butterflies? I worry we’ve lost the grind, loyalty, and determination that our grandparents showed when it came to their relationships.

One woman fearing the same is 27-year-old Audrey, “My longest relationship lasted just over five years” she says, “Since the age of 25 I’ve been single and tried my hand at dating apps, but haven’t had much success” Explaining that she subconsciously succumbed to swipe culture, Audrey feels that our society is much to blame for our constant need to find better. “I eventually started to pick up that ‘swipe’ attitude and I’m kind of annoyed at myself that I did. Like most people, I obviously want to find my perfect partner, but when I do go on dates I find myself thinking ‘oh well, if this one doesn’t work out, there’ll be another one just around the corner so it’s fine’ which is wrong, I’ve already shut down the opportunity of a relationship before I’ve even met the person.”

Ariana Grande got us feeling like bad bitches telling us that when one relationship fails, dry your tears and move onto the next, because who cares, but actually, I care, in fact, we probably all care. I don’t believe that ‘the one’ exists (I told you, I’m a love cynic), but please, hear me out. I believe that there are people that we’re highly compatible with, but I think that there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of them around, it’s just a matter of chance which one we meet. But that’s not to say that the relationship you can build with that person you do connect with can’t be utterly amazing, the key is to take that time, build that connection and see out the growing pains. We mistake being settled for being static. This is a society that puts pressure on people, and females, in particular, to seek perfection in all things – and love is no exception, but perfection and love are not two words often used in the same sentence. Just like our dinners, we want our relationships ready-made – ‘grow your own dream partner – just add water’, and when we realise they require time, effort, and care, we’ll throw in the towel and have an inspirational quote about them not being the one on our Insta stories before the bed is even cold. If this mentality had existed 60 odd years ago when our grandparents were navigating the world of love it’s fair to say that a lot of us probably wouldn’t be around today. 

 

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 In a day and age where divorce rates and swiping left are on the rise, I’ve realised just how special my grandparent’s 50-odd-year marriage was. Reaching out to the one woman I know has committed herself to a lifetime of love, I ask my Nana, Lily, what her secret on making a relationship go that extra mile is, and see if we modern women can take anything from her wisdom. Having been married to my Grandad, Richard, for 54 years until he passed away 10 years ago, she tells me the story of how they met one another in 1952 and were inseparable from that moment on. “I met your Grandad in a Dublin dance hall when I was 24, it was ladies choice and I spotted him standing in the corner on his own, we danced together and were by one another’s side ever since.”

Telling me the secrets behind their long marriage, she admits that good old fashioned commitment is the best and only way to make a relationship stand the test of time, “Loyalty is the most important thing to have when you are in a marriage, you need to be committed to each other and work together as a team. My marriage with your grandad was never perfect but we always put our disagreements to one side, neither of us ever even dreamt of giving up and ending the relationship.” I ask her what advice she can give to young people wanting to make their relationships last, to which she replies, “Agree with one another, it’s as simple as that. If you’re both willing to put in hard work and dedicate yourselves to one another then it will be easy to be happy and make things work.”

Just as my Nana told me that a little bit of hard work goes a long way in a relationship, Psychotherapist Trish shares a similar sentiment “Robust relationships are created and maintained by commitment, communication, and physical and emotional connection, in other words: unconditional love”. In a time where we have more choice than any of our predecessors, where anything is possible and better is just a swipe away, it’s easy to forget that it’s okay to be happy here and now with what -and who – you already have.

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