I grew up believing my future husband would just naturally tick every box I could ever imagine (and a few more that I couldn’t). It seemed obvious that he’d be slick, dashing, kind, gorgeous, and wealthy, with a vibrant and dynamic lifestyle coupled with strong family values. Oh, and an insatiable desire to please me at all times, of course.

Then I grew up just a little bit. But it’s tough when so much of popular culture inculcates this notion in us early on in life. I have to tell you, though: Bridging the gap between what I feel I was taught to expect and what I actually experienced has seriously recalibrated my outlook on love, life, and happiness. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Because it turns out that romance is a lot more complicated than a simple box-ticking exercise. As a matchmaker, that’s a truth I see day in, day out. And it’s why today I wanted to delve into a few of the classic traps we’ve all fallen into in the past when it comes to romantic expectations versus reality.

“Sex all the time” vs. enough sexual intimacy to satisfy your needs

Even to suggest that frequent sex isn’t necessary in a relationship is anathema to some people. And when two partners’ sexual needs don’t align, tension and insecurity can run rampant. Yet when you stop to think about it, the idea that regular or even daily sex is a requirement for all couples is pretty ridiculous. The very notion creates undue pressure, and a 2017 study found that the happiest couples have sex “only” once a week.

What actually matters most isn’t the sex itself, but the physical desire for one’s partner. As couples settle into a comfortable routine, it’s easy to forget that they still need to fan the flame of passion from time to time. Regular intimacy is important, for sure, but that need not always manifest only as sex. A flirtatious comment or a spontaneous passionate kiss might be all a couple needs to remember how much they want one another, and no one else.

“A good sense of humor” vs. humor that’s just similar enough to our own

Humor is a hugely important aspect of a relationship, because our expressions of it are manifestations of our personality, values, and worldview. There are few things more depressing, therefore, than getting serious with someone before really recognizing the fact they just don’t get your jokes.

So actually, when we say we want a partner with a “good sense of humor,” what we really mean is someone whose outlook on life matches our own closely enough that we can act as a team, back each other, and truly “get” one another even when it seems like no one else in the world does. Research from eHarmony found that what people really want is someone whose sense of humor doesn’t necessarily align exactly with theirs, but rather just overlaps enough that they frequently find themselves falling into hysterics.

Finding “perfection” vs. recognizing “perfection”

It’s so easy to foster inflated expectations about our future partner, especially if like me you were raised on a diet of cheesy romcoms and hopelessly unrealistic sitcoms. Yet perhaps the best-kept secret when it comes to relationships is simply this: Your perfect partner doesn’t exist. They live only in your head. But that’s no bad thing. Rather, it means it’s entirely in your hands when to decide that the person standing before you is, in fact, the partner you’ve needed and longed for all along. And if you’re single and ready to meet that rare someone whose lifestyle, values, and aspirations genuinely align and resonate with yours, well—we can help.

Maclynn is a boutique, multi-award-winning introductions agency with offices in New York, New Jersey, California, and London. We’re world-renowned for bringing together highly compatible singles within our vast network of attractive, intelligent professionals, and our matchmakers are relationship experts in their own right. Get in touch today, and prepare for genuinely meaningful dating—just like you deserve.