If you were to ask me about the one thing that determines whether a couple will have a successful relationship, I’d think you were crazy. I mean: trying to boil down all of the complexities of a relationship into one single line of advice? My average column hits 2200 words and you think I’m someone who can boil things down to a soundbite? Something you can slap on a bumper-sticker?
But as it turns out, there’s an answer. And it’s deceptively simple.
It’s how the two of you choose to look at your relationship.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they assume their view of reality is both accurate and objective. We tend to believe that what we see and experience is 100% exactly what’s going on in the world around us. The only time we really start to question the subjectivity of reality is after a couple of deep bong rips in college.
In reality, however, our brains lie to us all the damn time. We can only handle so much information at one time, so in order to free up space, our brains skip over things and fill in the blanks based on what we know and what we expect to happen. We filter our reality through our assumptions and preconceived notions. Part of why most automobile accidents take place within five miles of your home is because the area is so familiar to you that your brain quits paying attention and goes on auto-pilot. It fills in the blanks based on what it believes to be there. Then that pick-up comes barrelling out of nowhere and you literally didn’t see it coming.
But what does this have to do with relationships?
Well, it’s about expectations. Much as with confirmation bias, when you expect to see something or hear something, you will. The same thing applies to relationships: what you expect is what you will get. Not because the experience is manifestly different, but how you perceive and react to it will be.
Now, the big question is: how does this apply to you as a couple?