Why do we constantly need some sort of affirmation or grandiose declaration of love to know we’re doing all right? I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked or told of how I need to be inspired each day in my work, my pastimes, and even in relationships, both romantic and nonromantic. But I wonder whether this constant need to have a divine sign from the universe telling us we’re on track actually deters us from taking leaps of faith and trusting our own instincts. Does the need to be constantly inspired makes us forget that every relationship needs work to work?
While reading random advice in different psychology websites, I came across an interesting article, which said that a functional relationship comes from being inspired our partner. This because they will help us become better people. However, I feel that placing this much pressure on the other person comes at cost: codependency. When we expect someone else to be responsible for our actions and feelings, we are no longer in a functional relationship. We’re in a twisted situation that will only result in resentment and blame. If things don’t work the way we want them to or if we don’t turn out to be the idealized version of ourselves, we’ll only transfer the responsibility to our partner. Because it’s their fault for not being inspiring enough.
There are a few questions you need to ask yourself to discover whether you are expecting your partner to fix or improve you. But here are the two main ones:
Am I inspired by this relationship?
Google “inspiring relationship” and you are sure to find a myriad of articles and blogs claiming that the only way to be in love is to be with someone who inspires you. But my problem with this is that inspiration is entirely subjective. You might be inspired to be a better person through their example. But you can’t be inspired to love someone. Instead you can be challenged to become a better person through the love and commitment you have with your partner. They can challenge your mindset and perspective. But this is done through a different process, closer to discussion and conversation, rather than just pure inspiration.
I should point out that waiting for inspiration is an extremely passive way to live. We’re inspired when we challenge ourselves, as well as when others challenge us to step out of our comfort zone. Instead of waiting for that whiff of goodness telling you to be more patient and understanding, the practice of patience and active listening will eventually lead you towards those attitudes.
Do I need to be inspired?
This next question should be an introspective one. If you’re expecting your partner to do the job of inspiring you, then perhaps the problem is that you are still unsure about what you need. If you feel like you’re not where you want to be in life, don’t wait for a fairy godmother in the shape of a relationship. Think hard about what you’re looking in life. Set small goals that are easy to achieve in short terms. Your partner is there to be the person enjoying this life journey by your side, but they’re not meant to be in the driver’s seat. After all, they have their own path and goals to fulfill.
Romantic relationships don’t fix your problems. They’re not meant to. If the only reason you’re with someone is because they inspire you, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the situation. You might be leaning into this person only to get something out of them, and that’s definitely not fair for them. The only person that can help you be a better person, or find you life’s passion, is yourself. Life isn’t a movie. You create your own catharsis and epiphanies. So next time, trust your instincts and intellect as a form of inspiration towards your self-improvement.
Images by Elliot Dunning