Do you question if you are with the right person? I wonder if comparison is the culprit. Social media has become a form of entertainment for many - especially during this past year. We become voyeurs, and can peek into the lives of (quite literally) millions of others. Yet what we see is an edited, false-sense of reality, and only a glimpse of someone else’s life. If the “scroll” gives you inspiration, it's valuable; but if you get stuck in the world of comparison, you may be making life more difficult for yourself. Because when you start comparing your partner or relationship to others, you are sure to kill any satisfaction that was there.
The Grass Isn’t Greener
When you look at what is missing in your current relationship, you may find yourself fantasizing what you would like that isn’t there. There is nothing wrong with imagining a better situation! In fact, it could be a glimpse into ways in which your current partnership could improve, if given the attention. But by focusing on what you don’t have, rather than what you do, you may soon find yourself considering leaving the relationship.
So before you leave in search for “more”, consider what that really means. A girlfriend of mine often says that “the grass isn’t greener on the other side.” She has gone through divorce, and knows firsthand the emotional strain and challenges that come with the disentanglement of a couple.
So should you leave in search for whatever it is you are longing for? Or stay out of the fear that things might not be better anywhere else? In the end, you could find yourself with a new partner who has more of whatever it is you are looking for, but then find that their values don’t align with what is most important to you.
Mr. or Ms. (Almost) Right
In the article called The Good Enough Partner in Psychology Today, Aaron Ben-Zeev, Ph.D., writes, “A ‘satisficing’ solution can be the best choice when we take into account the cost of looking for alternatives.” He says that “satisficing” is a term coined by economist and psychologist Herbert Simon, combining the words “satisfy” and "suffice". This term expresses an adequate solution rather than maximum utility.
In his opinion, it would be more beneficial to take a realistic approach to finding solutions based on what is valuable to you rather than trying to find the best overall option. Being “satisficed” with a good enough partner doesn’t mean settling. It’s more about seeing what is most valuable to you when it comes to your partner in your relationship, while also continuing to improve the relationship. Taking this attitude may help to increase your actual satisfaction with your partner.
From a Couples’ Counselling Perspective
I believe the purpose of the article is to encourage you to consider what is valuable to you, and whether your partner meets these values; it’s not meant to deter you from leaving if that is what you believe to be the solution. Some partnerships will not last, and for many different reasons. But don’t expect all your needs to be met by just one person. Reflect on what is “good enough” in your partnership. Is there a way you can meet your own needs more effectively? Is there a willingness to improve individually and together?
Even if you feel as if you have found a “good enough” partnership, you can still continue to improve your connection, and grow and learn from the relationship. When I work with couples, I will ask about earlier times in their relationship to see the good that pulled them together. I look for the glue that could hold them together. Something was there once - where has it gone?
Through comparing less and having a “good enough” mindset, you can potentially increase the odds of saving your partnership. You may even open up the opportunity for something even greater together.