‘This isn’t what I signed up for!’ The point where fantasy and reality collide in relationships

Rosie Kay aka ThisKindaGirl
6 min readOct 19, 2023

‘This isn’t what I signed up for!’ The point where fantasy and reality collide in relationships.

After a hard day of non-monogamy relationship coaching, there’s nothing more I enjoy than sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea and maybe a scone (yes, I am British) and allowing myself to become engrossed in the world of yet more relationship coaching in the form of the TV documentary ‘Couples Therapy’ on the BBC.

I thoroughly enjoy watching Dr Orna Guralnik, a Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalyst, working with couples wanting to save their relationships. And, whilst recently watching an episode, a conversation between Dr Guralnik and her mentor (the shrinks shink) stood out to me, and it was a topic that I decided to explore. It inspired me to reflect upon my own experiences of being in relationships where the same had happened to me.

Dr Guralnik was explaining how a particular couple she was working with had suddenly had a realisation about their relationship, and she said, ‘There reaches a point where fantasy and reality collide in relationships, and that is when people struggle the most.

The episode then switched to another shot, and the attention was focused on a couple sitting down in her New York-based office, the conversation between Dr Guralnik and her mentor forgotten.

Still, for me, the words remained, hanging in the air. I reached up, snatched them and jotted them down on a piece of paper.

And so, here we are.

Why we fail to see the reality

We have all heard the phrase ‘turning a blind eye’, and we all know what it means to fail to see a ‘red flag’ but sometimes we are so deeply invested in someone or something we create a reality that fits our ideal and shape it in a way that makes sense and is appealing to us. Almost like an impressionist painting, we see what we want to see, and who can argue with us?

When challenged, we can easily say that no, you know what you see and believe this to be the true representation of the relationship or the individual.

It’s primal, it’s natural, and it’s what we call ‘falling in love’

We have all done it to some degree. You meet someone new; you are suddenly intoxicated by this person; you spend all your time with them; you are intimate, intense and invested. Although there are traits you don’t particularly like and behaviours that may, under normal circumstances, have a triangular ‘hazard warning’ sign attached to them, you choose to ignore them.

Why? Because your body is saying, ‘Get it on with this person; they are a catch,’ however, your body is not subject to the whole truth and is basing its response on the chemical rush that it experiences when you are with this new-fangled person. Your body doesn’t see the times they have stood you up, discredited your sexuality or put you on a back burner. It simply responds to the lusty feelings they generate.

It’s primal, it’s natural, and it’s what we call ‘falling in love’ (even if they do mess us around). During this process, because we are so high on the chemicals being produced by our bodies, we fail to see the whole picture and instead, we focus on the parts we really, really like and disregard the rest.

we create our realities based not on the truth of a person but instead on the fantasy of who that person might be

And where does this leave us? Struggling to accept the truth about one another and the reality that becomes our relationship. The reason our bodies tell us to do this in the first place is all down to procreation and is a topic that I will cover in another article (I don’t think I’ll manage to explain it is less than 1500 words, and we are already 600 in).

No one is as perfect as you imagine them to be

Part of the problem is that we create our realities based not on the truth of a person but instead on the fantasy of who that person might be or become. Sometimes, we do this to protect ourselves, to avoid criticism from others and because the fantasy version we have created is, in fact, more appealing than the actual person.

We don’t want to face the truth, so we dilute it with pastel shades, gloss over the realities, and allow this version of them to be our perfect version. Sometimes, we forget that our partners are human beings, and sometimes, they simply respond to their human DNA.

Sorry to break it to you; we are not as selfless or altruistic as we’d like to believe. Like it or not, we all have our own agendas, and even if you give your partner your all, there’s still a piece of you that’s looking out for you and you alone.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you want to jeopardise what you have, or hurt your partner, but let’s face it, if there were two pieces of cake, you would take the bigger one for yourself.

Why?

Well, it could be because you are greedy, but it’s more to do with the fact that as individuals, we are solely responsible for our survival, so we will prioritise ourselves. And that’s normal. I’m not saying you should no longer trust your partner or presume they are out to screw you over, but stop referring to them or yourself as perfect because no one is. Start accepting that we are humans, living a human existence.

When fantasy met reality in my life

I was once in a relationship where, when fantasy and reality collided, both parties had a real wake-up call.

A few years ago, when I was living in London, I met a Turkish guy, and at the time, we both thought we were ticking one another’s boxes. But because we were both experiencing the side effects of ‘new person high’, when we did express our ‘true nature’ (I was openly bisexual and Ethically non-monogamous, and he would only consider a MFF threesome on his terms and was not willing to explore any other form of ENM) it meant that when we both put our cards on the table, we ignored one another hands and continued basking in the newfound glory of new person high. Now, I don’t need to tell you that these two perspectives are, to say the least, a little bit clashy.

Around eight months in, I said to him,

I’d really like to meet up with a fellow bisexual woman.’

he replied with, ‘but, that’s not how I see you, you arn’t like that.’

‘I really am.’

‘no, you’re not, I know you.’

‘no, if you know me, you know I identify this way.’

‘Well, I don’t agree with it.’

We both looked at each other, and reality hit; it felt as though the last 8 months had been a lie. And it had.

We were so caught up in the chemicals of lust and love and late nights we had disregarded our integrity and allowed our loins to speak for us. What a waste of my time, I thought, and what a waste of his.

This isn’t what I signed up for-What to do next.

But what if, unlike me, you don’t walk away? What if you are five, ten, or twenty years into a relationship? What if you only realise then that ‘this isn’t what I signed up for?’ Then what?

Sometimes, walking away isn’t the right option. So then what? Compromise? Work together? Share your greviences? Yes, maybe all of these. But I believe what is going to help you is understanding that people (including yourself) change, and it’s okay to want to explore new possibilities, become curious or maybe reflect upon the things that were once important to you and ask, are they still relevant? Am I the same person I was five, ten or twenty years ago?

I know I’m not.

When I work with my clients, I encourage them to have honest conversations with one another as often as possible, and I teach them how to do this, firstly by expressing what is important and integral to them: the things that can’t be changed such as their sexuality or faith or gender identity and then secondly, we talk about their boundaries and establish what they are and aren’t okay with within their relationships. I teach them how to compromise and work together to accept their differences. I have found that even in couples who have been together for 20+ years, they learn so much more about one another once they begin to share because they are not the same people they once were. I teach them to embrace who they have become and not see differences as an obstacle but as a different direction. After all, many roads will all lead to the same destination.

As for me, I think it’s time to put the kettle on, crack open the jam and put my feet up.

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Rosie Kay aka ThisKindaGirl

💕Swinger Lifestyle Expert 💯Open Relationship Coach 🗝️Unlock The Lifestyle With Me 👇🏻Use the link to start your journey https://thiskindagirl.co.uk/links/