When I say “relationship goals,” what comes to mind? Do you think of the wholesome, energetic interactions of Jim and Pam Halpert from The Office? Maybe you think of the success and fame of a couple like Chrissy Tiegen and John Legend. You might even think of a couple in your own life that is worthy of admiration, like your parents or grandparents. There are a lot of great, wholesome relationships that we can look to for wisdom or guidance.
All that said, we should be wary to not take this admiration to the extreme. For how often and how much we fawn over famous relationships and their respective dynamics, we can’t let this obsession become an imaginary standard, or twist our own #relationshipgoals into a direct reflection of what we see in popular culture.
Embrace Your Story, not Somebody Else’s
One of the many reasons why we shouldn’t model our goals after other couples we see is because of the inherent uniqueness of each relationship. In the same way that all seven billion people on earth are unique creations made in the image of God, every relationship that has existed and will exist is full of its own distinctive histories, love languages and many other factors.
While some relationships might be between high school sweethearts, others might exist because of a chance encounter. Your favorite marriage could be one with a stay-at-home parent while the other works or a couple where both partners work in the same office. There are thousands, if not millions of factors that play a part in the foundation and growth of a relationship. While the story of each relationship will almost always prompt an “aww” or something akin to it, we should receive it as it is; a story; not a step-by-step guide on how to find the one.
It is okay to want to the storybook love story we’ve dreamed of; but every detail does not have to be identical to what we see in other relationships, either in your own life of media. It is okay (and, completely normal actually) to enjoy rom-coms and tales of love, but replicating an exact moment or story is not a necessity for your own relationship to grow. Would meeting your future girlfriend at a karaoke event on New Year’s Eve be cute? Yeah, but we shouldn’t be constraining our openness for new relationships to a scene we saw in a Disney movie.
You don’t need to force yourself, or any potential future relationship to be something you’re not. While we’re talking about embracing the uniqueness of relationships, let’s dive into the types of people we look to have our story-book romances with.
Who To Look For
I need to make something clear before I go on; it is normal to have “types” that you’re into. We all have different personality types or physical qualities that we’re attracted to. It is important to acknowledge those and embrace them. What we should not do, however, is let what we hear or see in other relationships become the exact type of partner that we seek in our own lives.
Often times, especially in the Catholic community, we tend to idolize relationships we are a witness to. These relationships are awesome and have wisdom we can draw from and apply to our own lives, but what tends to happen is that we want that exact type of person. If we hear a story about a couple that met while at mass, we spend the next Sunday in our pew looking for Mrs. Right wearing a veil during Communion, or we notice a potential Mr. Right who waited for you to sit down before lowering the kneeler (chivalry, am I right ladies?). Be willing to be surprised by who you’re attracted to or a person who asks you out. Don’t confine any potential love story to a narrative you’re comfortable with when you might be invited into an entirely unexpected one.
We all want our Prince/Princess Charming, but we should not ignore someone who could be that just because they are not similar to what we saw in some other couple? There are a lot of awesome and holy men and women of God out there that you’ll encounter in a variety of situations. Don’t let the description or depiction of someone else’s love affect how you see yours. When seeing a guy like Peter Kavinsky from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, our standards should be set on looking for another sweet man, not another Peter Kavinsky.
Pray for Yourself!
There are a lot of topics that can be talked about when it comes to relationships and dating, and a lot of the time it can feel overwhelming. Something that is good for you, no matter what your relationship status might be, is to pray for peace. We have to be at peace in order to fulfill the life that God laid out for us. Is having a relationship nice? Yes, but nothing is wrong with you if you’re single. God has a unique path for all of us, and we shouldn’t have all of our prayers be focused on finding the one for us.
Dating can lead to a lot of really great things in life, but it is not everything. Often times, especially in Catholic teen culture, we tend to over-spiritualize relationships, dating, flirting and everything under that same umbrella. Don’t get me wrong; It is always good to pray for your future relationship, but it is not necessary to pray for every aspect of it. Somethings happen unexpectedly in our life, and we should fully embrace what it is without overthinking it. The most important #relationshipgoal there is to have is to get you and your spouse to heaven; how you get there, and who you get there with, is different for everybody.
To close, there is a simple yet powerful prayer called “Be Satisfied with Me” that I highly encourage you to check out here.
This is my favorite excerpt from that prayer.
“You just wait. That’s all. Don’t be anxious. Don’t worry. Don’t look at the things you think you want; You just keep looking off and away up to Me, Or you’ll miss what I want to show you. And then when you are ready, I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than any you could dream of.”