When people talk about finding a successful life partner, they commonly use the term "building a life together." For me, I've seen what that looks like, as I was raised by parents who did exactly that. They are equals, not only in the way they interact with each other but in the way they interact with others. They bounce off each other and their relationship is like one never-ending loop of back and forth, give and take. They have a true partnership.
When they met, my mom was upfront about her requirements from a relationship. She didn't mess around and set her standards unbelievably high and essentially told my dad to jump if he wanted to meet them. He didn't have to. See, my dad was naturally existing within those standards. He didn't have to mature, or change, or adjust in any way. He just was exactly what she needed. When they met, they were at the same level. No one was one step forward or two steps behind in life, they just clicked.
I like to think of strong relationships as being just like that. Very similar to running a race. When you are running, you set yourself a pace. For some that may be 10-minute miles, for others that may be 15 or 20 or seven. Your life partner should be someone who matches your pace effortlessly. Someone who doesn't make you sprint ahead for a lap, then turn around and race back to them. The two of you should be able to run side by side at the same pace, gradually surviving each lap together until you reach the end. Yes, occasionally your pace may get wonky or you get tired, and your steps may shift, making you move in front of or behind one another, causing one person to compromise their steps until the other can catch up and so on, but still, you're always there. Side by side, surviving the race together.
Today, it is too common for people to find themselves in the sprinting relationship. One person running ahead, waiting for their partner to catch up, then having to turn around and repeat the process all over again. OR, if you choose to not run ahead, you're stuck, running at a pace that's uncomfortable and slightly awkward. We tend to call this compromise or sacrifice. But why should one partner compromise or sacrifice their pace while the other remains comfortable? If your partner does choose to sprint to match your pace, how long before they decide they're sick of running and fall back to what's comfortable?
Yes, relationships are about growing together. But in order to grow as a partnership, it shouldn't require one partner to wait while the other catches up. Together means together, and if you feel like you're in a relationship where you're constantly waiting for your partner to catch up, it's time to move on. Life is short, and it's not your job nor your responsibility to make someone better or wait for them to grow.
So, go find someone who matches your pace and who will honestly stand by your side as the two of you cross your finish lines. Trust me, it will be worth it.