This article originally appeared in Psychology Today.
When we’re single, we’re constantly making decisions in pursuit of happiness: where to go, who to date, what friends to seek out, what activities to try. We don’t always make the right decisions, but we, at least, tend to take responsibility for them. When something doesn’t work, we try something else. When one thing doesn’t feel right, we change course. Life can throw a lot at us, but in general, we believe that we are at the helm when it comes to actions we can take to make ourselves happy. Yet, this often changes when we get into a relationship.
All of a sudden, we start putting a lot of our eggs into another person’s basket. We start trusting that person with all kinds of aspects of our happiness from our level of boredom
to our sense of security. A lot of what we expect from a partner makes sense (for instance, to feel seen, understood, appreciated, and loved). Yet, sometimes our lists get a little long, and it becomes easier and easier for our partner to let us down.
As Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity,
once put it, “We come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide. Give me belonging, give me identity
, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and all in one.” In essence, we expect them to make us happy, no longer taking responsibility for our own happiness.