The title of this post is a little ‘tongue in cheek’, but when I heard recently that Madonna said “there’s no such thing as perfect love”, I thought it was a good opportunity to address some of the myths that pervade our society about love and relationships.
Madonna is probably someone who has considerable experience in the area of love relationships, with high-profile relationships with stars such as Guy Ritchie, Warren Beatty and Sean Penn.
Perhaps her relationships are not the best model to look towards due to her star status and the extraordinary scrutiny and pressure that her and her partners would be under. However, she does have a point that there is no such thing as perfect love.
The myths of love relationships
You see, we are fed a diet of love relationships from an early age. It starts with storybook fairytales and leads into Hollywood movies, where the overarching message is there is a soulmate out there for you, you just have to find him or her. We are then told once you find this soulmate, you will live happily ever after.
The other relationship myth is that we are born into this world incomplete, and we need to find this soulmate to complete us. Once you find your soulmate, you will be a whole person. The idea sold to you is until you find your ‘better half’, you will drift aimlessly through life, without direction or purpose.
The problem with soulmates
So here’s the dilemma.
Because you grow up with these distorted models of love relationships, it can get you into trouble when you do enter a relationship and the fairytale is not unfolding life you expected.
Some people feel shock, disappointment, resignation or ambivalence. Often I hear “he’s not the one” or “I thought he was the one, but we couldn’t find a way to be together”. There’s often a plaintive cry that accompanies such laments as the relationship falls into ruin.
The problem with thinking there is “a one” out there for you, is it creates an unrealistic scenario where you expect your partner to be everything you ever dreamed of. This can create huge expectations on the new relationship and the risk of disappointment is high.
Dealing with the reality of love relationships
“There’s no such thing as the perfect soulmate. If you meet someone and you think they’re perfect, you better run as fast as you can in the other direction. ‘Cos your soulmate is the person that pushes all your buttons, pisses you off on a regular basis, and makes you face your shit.”
I like this quote by Madonna, because I think it captures the reality of love relationships. Many couples do experience a euphoria in the first part of their relationship as they join and bond and begin to fall in love. This stage is also known as symbiosis, because it’s a time where your boundaries merge, you can see no faults in your partner and everything is easy and enjoyable.
This is a wonderful time in any relationship, and I believe it’s an important stage of a relationship where you bond and build a base of connection and friendship with one another. However, this euphoria never lasts. And it’s when the glow of falling in love wears off that your differences start to emerge.
The illusion of perfect love starts to crumble
You might start to notice some annoying idiosyncrasies you didn’t notice before, or perhaps you start to get irritated with some aspects of their personality or you feel more intolerant of how they behave in certain ways. This is a natural stage of love relationships where your differences become more pronounced and you start to separate from the we and define the your individuality.
Many couples can get stuck at this stage and are not sure what to do next. It’s at this stage that many couples can show up for couples counselling to try to work through their differences.
As Madonna suggests above, the reality is that your partner will push your buttons and annoy you on a regular basis, but most importantly, does confront you with the very issues that are unresolved from your past. And this is the wonderful thing about relationships, because it’s at this point that you can grow as an individual and as a couple, if you can hang in there.
But to do that, you may have to give up the idea that there is such a thing as perfect love.
What’s your perspective on love relationships? Do you believe in perfect love?