Our culture teaches us that there’s someone “perfect” out there for everyone - it’s just a matter of finding them. The idea comes out of the romantic tradition in western culture, the notion that things will always work out okay in the end and that we can have whatever we want from life.

As we get older, though, we slowly realize that this isn’t true at all. You don’t automatically wind up in your dream job after you finish college. You don’t always find yourself with perfect health, and your partner doesn’t satisfy all your needs, all the time.

For many people inculcated into a romantic way of thinking, all of this can be a massive disappointment. You go into relationships believing that they will be entirely fulfilling, only to find that they aren’t, in major ways. It can leave you reeling. 

Your whole life, you've been under the notion that this life is your fairytale, so why are things not working the way you want them to?

Finding Someone Who's Good Enough

Part of the solution is to relieve yourself of the notion that “the perfect person” is out there, just waiting for you. They’re not - and a simple bit of logical thinking will tell you why.

Nobody can be you, and therefore, nobody can see you perfectly. You’re always going to be mysterious in some way, no matter how advanced the other person’s "powers of empathy" are.

Famed psychologist Donald Winnicott first coined the term, “good enough” to describe the ideal parent. Caregivers, in his view, shouldn’t strive for perfection. Instead, they should accept their human foibles, put them on display in front of their kids, then roll with it.

The idea soon caught on in other areas, and now it's an integral part of the philosophical approach to relationships. Nobody is ever going to be able to satisfy your needs perfectly. It’s just not possible. The best you can hope for is somebody who does a decent job of it.

Finding somebody good enough changes the psychology of your relationships.

You’re not going into them believing that they’re going to be perfect in every way. Instead, you soberly appreciate the fact that your partner is going to drive you mad sometimes and vice versa - but that’s okay. That’s what you’re signing up for. And that’s what you should expect.

Relationship coaches, like myself and Susie Tuckwell, point out that things won’t always be ideal.

In the bedroom, for instance, the situation might take a turn for the worse after the birth of a child or if one partner puts on weight. These things are part of the course of most modern relationships and simply something we need to deal with as thinking, feeling, being creatures.

Relationships Take Work

Instead of going into a relationship as something that serves you, you can try to view it as a project.

Some of you may find this perspective problematic, but I have to tell you, relationships are somewhat similar to creating and developing an ongoing project. :)

Just like with your regular job, the rewards you get are equal to the effort you put into it.

When both people are prepared to put in the hours required to construct something worth treasuring, you implicitly accept that neither you nor the other person, is perfect...

... and surprisingly, that can be a liberating experience.