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6 Signs of Being Stuck in a Fantasy of a Relationship

3. You linger on the past, and make excuses for the present.

Key points

  • Many people find themselves getting caught up in the “potential” of their partner.
  • When they focus on this fantasy version of a relationship, it can keep them trapped in a toxic dynamic.
  • There are signs to look for that can help determine if someone is focused on the “potential” versus reality.
Just Dance/Shutterstock
Source: Just Dance/Shutterstock

Does this sound familiar?

You're in a relationship with someone, and you keep waiting for things to get “better.” You see the potential in this person and everything that the relationship “could” be. So, you wait and wait and wait for this person to change and the relationship to progress and morph into what you want. And as time passes, it becomes more and more difficult to leave.

If this resonates, you’re not alone. I’ve seen many people get caught up in “the potential” of their partner—focusing on the fantasy and possibility of a relationship versus the reality. And when you are in the thick of a relationship with these rose-colored lenses, it can make it difficult to see things accurately and for what they really are. You are less likely to detect incompatibility or differences in core values. There is also a higher likelihood of not spotting the “red flags” and sticking around much longer than you probably should.

The Hard Truth

Our partners are not their potential, and we cannot expect our partners to be someone they are not. We cannot expect them to change or realize this “potential” if they don’t want to change or have the intrinsic desire to do so. While people can change, it is not something we can control or dictate—this applies to our partners. So, if you find yourself waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for things to be different, chances are they won’t be.

6 Signs You're Stuck in a Fantasy Relationship

  1. You are constantly thinking about the future of the relationship and how things “could be” versus enjoying your partner and relationship in the present. You obsess over how things could be “better” or “different” and even try to change your partner to fit this fantasy version of the relationship you desire.
  2. You focus on the past and how things “were” when the relationship was shiny and new. You daydream about those “good” moments, like when you were courted or when you first started seeing this person. You prefer this initial version of your partner over the person they are in the present.
  3. You make excuses for your partner’s problematic behaviors or toxic relationship dynamics. You attribute problems in the relationship to a unique set of circumstances—even when these problems continue to persist after the stressor or event.
  4. You tend to over-explain the problems or challenges that occur within your relationship with your friends and family. You become defensive when others express their concerns about the health of your relationship.
  5. You are perpetually unhappy but try to reason this away. You try to talk yourself out of any “bad” feelings you have towards your partner or relationship. You ignore that gut feeling you have that is telling you that “something just isn’t right.”
  6. You feel like you are working harder than your partner in the relationship. You are making changes, but your partner remains the same. When your partner does “change” their behavior, this change is fleeting, and they soon go back to their old ways.

If any of these signs resonate with you, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on your own relationship. Are you happy? Are your needs being met? What about your standards and expectations? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, consider whether you have been focusing on the “potential” rather than being grounded in reality. Remember, you deserve a relationship that is fulfilling and meets your needs.

Facebook image: Nicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock

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