Broadening Your Relationship Horizons

This month, we are talking about finding love when all the rules seem to be constantly changing. Here is an example of one woman who took a long route to find her balance on the shifting carpet of love.

Tia was in the dating scene for more than twenty years. She often joined matchmaking websites and went on a lot of first dates. She’s a professional at the top of her career, smart and creative, but she had never been able to find a long-term partner. She came from a family of very traditional values and very set ideas about family relationships. As an independent woman, she stuck to those values, even though they didn’t serve her lifestyle. As she grew older, the things she was looking for in a partner became more and more specific. While this in itself is not a bad thing—it’s good to know what you want—for Tia her list became so narrow it excluded nearly any eligible man she met.

She wanted to find a man who earned more than she did, but as she climbed the career ladder, and had made several savvy investments, she found that there were few men who met this expectation. She didn’t want someone who had been married before or who had children, even though, now in her forties, those particular qualities become harder to find in a man near her own age. When she did meet someone she liked, and entered into a relationship with him, she immediately fell into the role of caretaker and nurturer. Men were either confused by the sudden turnaround of her personality and broke things off or jumped at the chance to be babied. Then Tia would quickly tire of being in the caretaker role.

It took her a long time to realize that rather than seeking a relationship that would benefit the lifestyle she had cultivated for herself, she was looking for a relationship like the one her parents enjoyed. They had a happy marriage playing the traditional roles, so she felt that was the only way to be happy in a relationship.

After working with a counselor, she began to understand that the relationship she had been searching for, guided by out-of-date thinking, was not one that would fit the life that she had made for herself. With a lot of effort, she learned to seek a relationship based on mutual support and affection—not money and traditionally gendered roles—and now has a partner that doesn’t quite meet her old list of expectations, but who can meet her as an equal.