Portland Relationship Counselor: The Good and Bad of “Relationship Role Models”

April 30, 2014 by

At some time or another, we’ve all compared our own relationship to that of a close friend, sibling, parent, or maybe even just an acquaintance’s. The “role-model” relationship we compare ours to may seem better than our own in some way, making us wonder why we can’t seem to get it right like they can.

The reality of this situation is that all relationships have their flaws. Just the like the people in them, relationships are very, very complex things, and they’re not easy to judge well from an outside perspective. What looks outwardly like a textbook example of a functional, loving, equal relationship, may feel completely different to the actual partners involved in it.

Your Relationship is Unique

This isn’t to say we can’t have role models that inform our perception of what a good relationship is and should be, but rather that it’s important to consider that we all have things that we could do better, both with and for our partner. While role models can help us to figure out where and how we can improve our own relationship, remember that what works in their relationship may not in your own, simply because different people respond to different things.

The “if there’s smoke, there’s fire” adage doesn’t work well as a generalization for every relationship, because we’re all sending different kinds of signals. It can actually be pretty difficult to figure out what’s going on between the couple next door, even if you have them over every day after work.

The individuality of the relationship you share with your partner is part of what makes it as special as it is—a connection between you and another person that no one else could ever really understand. Don’t try to make your relationship conform to what you think a “good relationship” is or looks like. If you try too hard to be like the “perfect” couples in your circle, you may find that you’ll start losing some of what makes your relationship a unique experience that only you and your partner share.

Relationship Role Models Still Have Their Value

By all means, keep your relationship role models—just make sure to choose them carefully. If they truly are good role models, then you can and will probably learn valuable lessons from their interactions. But it’s important to keep things in perspective and remember that what you share with your partner is unique, and shouldn’t be stifled or conformed to fit what someone else is doing if the change isn’t healthy. If you’re unsure about your own role models or the way you they make you evaluate your own relationship, find time to speak with a Portland relationship counselor about it, so you can get an idea of whether your role models are right for your relationship.