It wasn’t until about a year ago that I had even heard about the concept of “minimalism”. I found out that incorporating a bit of minimalism in my life could definitely help with things like finding purpose and knowing what’s important, but it was only recently that I realized this concept can help improve your relationships.
What Is Minimalism?
There is more to the concept of minimalism than “getting rid of all your stuff.” Although that can be part of it, that’s not the actual point behind the concept.
It simply means reducing the things in your life that you consider excess, or things that you could really do without.
That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. The Minimalists
The easiest way to define minimalism is not to say “what can I get rid of?” but rather start from absolutely nothing and think “what do I need to add?”
For some, they may need a laptop or the internet or a car. For others, they may only need a backpack with a few things so they can travel the world.
The point is to add to your life only what is essential.
This brings me to my first point about how minimalism can help with relationships. The first way is that it can allow you to cut out relationships that are not necessary.
This could mean cutting ties with an old friend or a co-worker that no longer adds value to your life.
Maybe they are mean to you or have a negative attitude. Maybe they judge you or don’t treat you with respect. If you have someone like this in your life, including a romantic relationship – minimalism can help you see that the only thing that is essential in your life is you.
You control all the other things and all the other people that you bring into your life.
Adopting this mindset can help you live your life with purpose and intent and can stop you from just accepting people that don’t make you happy or accepting to live with an unhealthy relationship.
I wrote a post on Five Dating Standards that actually matter and this is so much easier to do when you’re dating with a minimalist mindset.
Adopting minimalism to your dating means that you start with zero and only add on what is important. Imagine your perfect partner and only give him the qualities that are essential.
These qualities will of course be different for every person but should include important, life changing things like:
- Is supportive
- Accepts me for who I am
- Has similar life goals
- Is fun to hang out with
The goal here is to make this list as short as possible. So yes, you have to cut things like “has a fancy car”, “lives only 20 minutes away from me”, “is 6ft tall” etc.
When you approach dating the other way, with a giant laundry list of “standards”, it’s much easier to end up accepting the wrong ones and forgetting about the essential ones. “Yeah he works 80 hours a week, but he has such a nice car”.
This is not a compromise that is going to benefit your life in the long run.
Approaching dating in a minimalist way helps you stay grounded. Will this mean you’re settling? Yes. Kinda.
But guess what? You ALWAYS settle in one way or another because nobody is perfect. Nobody can check off all the boxes on your list.
The only way someone is checking off all those boxes is if your list is small – then that’s not really settling anymore, it’s accepting the important things and letting go of the trivial things.
MINIMALISM IN RELATIONSHIPS
So many of the relationship problems and fights that couples go through have to do with trivial things.
Chores, social media, not phrasing sentences in the right way, not reading the other person’s mind and even money can be trivial when you really think about what’s important in life.
Minimalism reminds us to “let go”. Just as we don’t have a personal and binding attachment to (most of) our things, we don’t have to have a personal and binding attachment to routines or the way things are done.
Did you know that expectations are a big reason why marriages and long-term relationships fail? It’s because we’re fed this Hollywood/fairytale romance since the time we’re able to watch Cinderella.
We’ve been so moulded by society into thinking that a long-term relationship or marriage results in “happily ever after”that our expectations are incredibly high and incredibly far removed from reality.
There have been numerous studies on arranged marriages vs traditional marriages and the results are fascinating.
The studies showed the “happiness” levels rising over the years for arranged marriages, and dropping over the years for traditional marriages.
A big reason for this was because arranged marriages started with low expectations, so they were pleasantly surprised and satisfied when things exceeded those expectations.
As research on satisfaction judgments shows, when expectations are low, they are more likely to be met leaving the newly-wed highly satisfied. In a free-choice marriage, in contrast, high expectations often develop during an elaborate dating period, with the culture placing great weight on the romantic love ideal. This sets people up for a let-down after the honeymoon period is over. – Psychology Today
Again, having minimalist expectations means that we start with zero and only add what’s important. Again these expectations should include “he listens to me”, “he comforts me when I’m sad” etc. and they DO NOT include “he doesn’t compliment me every day”, “he’s always watching TV instead of doing something productive”, “he hasn’t cleaned the garage and he said he would.”
So really, you should never be fighting about the dishes or laundry ever again!
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