Happiness may be an unrealistic expectation in romantic relationships


**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

So many people say, “I just want to be happy.” But what does that really mean? And is happiness the most important thing in a relationship?

I used to think that happiness was the benchmark for a good relationship. If both partners were happy, then the relationship was good. I realize now that this is not always the case.

My current relationship is the best relationship that I have ever been in. But guess what? I’m not always happy.

Some days life is just too heavy to be happy. That’s why happiness is no longer the goal, at least not for me. Healthy, now that’s something I can aspire to, whether I am happy or not.

It’s possible to be healthy when I’m feeling sad or indifferent. I can choose to be kind and understanding, even when I’m angry. That’s what I strive for in my relationship now.

In my experience, happiness is fickle. Some days I feel it, and other days I don’t. Sometimes all it takes for me to feel unhappy is waking up on a random Thursday morning in the middle of June. The weather could be perfect, and I could have just landed a new client, but I am just not happy.

On the other hand, there are days when I’ve got nothing going for me, and I’m still riding high on happiness. That’s because happiness doesn’t always come from my circumstances. Sometimes happiness is a roll of the dice — and you never know what you’re going to get.

Someone once told me that happiness is a choice, but the longer I live, the more unsure of that I am. There are so many variables when it comes to being happy. But being healthy is something that I can choose, again and again.

“All relationships will consist of both good and bad times, joys and pains, harmony and conflict. No one is perfect in our world so don't expect a perfect relationship that can meet your high hopes.” — Tarra Bates-Duford, Ph.D., LMFT

How do you know if your relationship is healthy?

For me, a healthy relationship doesn’t mean everything is in perfect working order all the time. But it does mean that my partner and I are committed to resolving conflict in a productive way. It means that we’re both growing as individuals and as a couple. And sometimes, that’s as good as it gets.

So, if you’re wondering whether you should stay or go based on happiness alone, I would encourage you to ask yourself this question: is your relationship healthy? If the answer is yes, then you might be on the right track — at least for now.

What do you think? Is happiness the most important thing in a relationship, or is something else more important? Let me know in the comments below.

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Intimacy & Relationship coach, writer, and creator of The Sensuality Project. I specialize in Relationship-ing (it's a verb).

Los Angeles County, CA

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