With so much media available today it can be hard to know what is real and what isn’t. There are a lot of “reality” shows on tv, but is it a realistic portrayal of what relationships are really like? I have a lot of students who don’t come from great families. They tell me that they have never really observed a what a great relationship looks like. They get their ideas mostly from the media. More often than not, the media isn’t a good source of information when it comes to healthy relationships.
I love romantic comedies, but sometimes life doesn’t work out like it does in the movies. I know most people know movies aren’t real, but it can make you hope that ideal on the screen more than you realize. If you read a lot of romance novels or watch romantic comedies you can get a false idea of what a relationship is really about. They can give you unrealistic expectations which can make you believe there is this perfect person out there and once you get through some initial obstacles, the rest is happily ever after. It makes you want that type of relationship. Some students feel something is wrong with them if they can’t find it.
The media can also trick you into thinking that you can have everything you want in ONE person. The reality is that if you are quiet person who is a good listener, you most likely aren’t the outgoing, super funny person. While sometimes it’s nice to have a boyfriend or girlfriend who listens and is very caring, it is also nice to be around a really fun person who can distract you from your problems. However, it is very unlikely to find both of those personality types in one person. Some romance novels make some men out to be emotionally available, yet very tough and super smart, protective, but not too controlling…oh and they are gorgeous too! This is not realistic. Most people don’t have all positive qualities. If you have too high of expectations in a person you date then you will always be disappointed.
If you like to date outgoing people, be prepared for their attention to be diverted to others a lot of the time. Outgoing people have a lot of friends and may be more flirtatious. That can be hard in a relationship. On the flip side, dating someone who is less outgoing means they aren’t texting 10 other friends through your dinner date, but they may be too tired on Friday to party all night. They may want more down time, which can sound boring to some people. My point is that you can’t have it all. There are up and down sides to every personality trait and no one is perfect. Even if you find someone you feel an emotional connection to, you have to also be physically attracted to them to want a relationship.
The other thing I hear a lot in my office is about sexual expectations. I think easy access to internet pornography has made it seem like sex is also as easy to have without any complications. Pornographic movies are done with a script and director. Most of the actors are on drugs while performing these sexual acts. I know most people know this logically, but I think it still puts a lot of pressure on both men and women to perform perfectly while having sex. I know some men feel like they should know everything and can easily feel insecure when comparing themselves to what they’ve seen in porn videos. Sex is about connection, but a lot of people can feel like they’re in a competition.
I also know some female students feel pressured by the guys they date to perform sexually. A lot of women feel insecure about being compared to porn stars who are willing to do anything. Also, some women complain that their boyfriend treats them like a sex object and they feel like they have to have sex on command. Men and women are different sexually. Men may feel really turned on if their girlfriend grabbed them and touched them sexually with no warning. They may want to jump into bed and are grateful that she initiated. Some women feel violated at times when their boyfriend grabs sexual body parts and expects sex on demand. Sometimes women may respond the same way men do, but if it happens too often without any emotional connection, it can make some women feel used. Watching internet pornography can trick you into thinking women want to have sex constantly and are turned on in the same ways men are. It is true that women can be bold and very sexual when they want to be. However, no one likes to feel pressured or used so be careful about assuming that you and your partner are turned on by the same things. This usually isn’t true. Great sex takes communication and a willingness to be open to your partner’s needs and wants.
A real sexual relationship is about having fun, being yourself and connecting to your partner. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else when having sex. Instead, focus on finding out what pleases your partner. Be confident and selfless instead of thinking you need to be some porn star in bed, or expecting your partner to be one. Also, real relationships aren’t just about sex. Most relationships involve many types of connections such as, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and recreational as well as sexual. Real relationships don’t always flow smoothly and you can make a few mistakes before finding the right person for you. You can still enjoy watching movies and reading novels for entertainment, but be careful about how it influences your beliefs about how relationships work. Try to give the opposite sex a break, and don’t compare them with Noah from The Notebook or Debbie from Debbie Does Dallas because none of us are walking around with a script to tell us what to do next in the real world.