(Originally appeared in The Huffington Post, July 30, 2012.)
Everyone wants to be in a romantic relationship, and everyone has an idea in their head of what the perfect relationship should be. However, most of the time, we end up in relationships that never resemble what we thought we would have, and we start to wonder whether or not this is okay. Usually, the answer surfaces when we compare our relationship to other people's and try to figure out if ours is better, worse or the same. Of course, we can never make this determination because one never knows what goes on behind closed doors and what is actually normal. If you are wondering if your relationship is normal, here are some pointers so you can figure that out...
1. Relationships are difficult, no matter what. If someone tells you otherwise, they are lying, or they aren't in a relationship.
2. Your relationship is normal as long as it works for you and your partner. Talk to your significant other about what "normal" means to him or her. As long as the two of you are on the same page and being true to yourselves and what you really want, it doesn't matter what others think. In today's day and age, there is no normal; our society is all about "anything goes."
3. Don't get caught up in peer pressure. If marriage isn't for you, but a monogamous committed relationship is, go ahead and have that relationship. As long as you and your partner are being honest about what you both really want and you are not pressuring each other, embrace the relationship that you are choosing to have.
4. If you aren't in a relationship but you want to build a family, that is perfectly okay. Single parents are very of the norm today; if it works for you, go for it.
5. Look around you and really notice other people's relationships. Not what you imagine them to be, but what they really are. No one's relationship is perfect, so don't think that you are alone in the fact that you have some issues with yours sometimes.
6. Don't believe "the grass is greener" elsewhere. You might wish some aspect of your best friend or colleague's relationship were part of yours, but I promise, there are many aspects of other people's relationship that you would never want.
7. Spend some time being thankful for what you have, instead of wanting something different. If you focus on your own relationship, you will see how happy things there make you.
8. If you think that your relationship is not "normal," then you need to have a discussion with your significant other and figure out ways to alter it that will make you happier. You need to be true to yourself and to your feelings.
9. Everybody disagrees and argues from time to time. This is common in any relationship. Your relationship would not be a a real relationship if there weren't some rocky days. It's okay to love him one day and hate her the next; that's "normal" because relationships are challenging. They can also be very worth it.
10. As much as normal comes in all different relationship packages, keep in mind that you should be having more happy days than sad ones in your relationship. Yes it's "normal" to argue, but it is not normal to argue everyday and it is not "normal" to spend more time feeling unhappy than you do feeling happy?