Role models in Relationships: Adjustable? Adaptable? Advisable?

“Unrealistic expectations are unhelpful expectations. Even though it’s hard, work on relinquishing them. And remember that you can create new rules and beliefs that actually inspire, support and serve both you and your relationships.” Tartakovsky, 2015

Earlier in this series on Role Models in Relationships, we considered what role models are and whether or not they are a help or a hindrance ( The next step is to see if they fit with reality, our present day lives. Role models are often formed in our younger years; however, their imprint stays with us as we grow older. Consequently, our (often unconscious) role models can become outdated in our adult lives. We may carry with us childhood impressions and heroes that are no longer relevant.

Role models can become irrelevant in several ways, like sequins from the 80’s and faded print from the 70’s, it’s fun to dress up, but not so appropriate to wear to a first date anymore. As previously explained, a role model is an example that we look up to, imitate and admire, consciously or sub-consciously. The roll on effect is that we want our own partners and relationships to replicate the image we have in our heads. When they don’t, it can lead to disappointment. Each person is a unique individual, and applying a picture perfect mould of our idealised role model over that, can cause distress for both parties. Consequently, role models are cherished as they provide a foundational base to guide our values and morals, but in order to remain applicable they need flexibility to continue evolving through various stages of life. In order to do this, role models need to become adjustable and adaptable.

Adjustable: alter or move (something) slightly in order to achieve the desired fit, appearance, or result.

Our Matchmakers at Seventy Thirty suggest a few ways to make your role models adjustable to fit your life right now.

·       Be mindful – be aware of fixed expectations that keep reappearing so you can see the issue.

·       Be open – hold your relationship in an open palm. Let it unfold naturally rather than force your ways of doing things, be open to learning and growing new, healthy patterns with your partner.

·       Love yourself – in so doing you can ensure you are treated with the respect you deserve. Loving oneself affords you the sanctuary to respond from a place of security rather than irrational insecurity.

Creating these conditions produces the opportunity to become adaptable to the changing conditions of our lives and relationships.

Adaptable: able to change to new conditions. Try these suggestions recommended by our Dating Experts to cultivate your adaptability:

·       Use double standards – if a scenario arises in your relationship that is upsetting, look at it through the perspective of it happening to your best friend – is it still so bad? Sometimes giving oneself that distance, can allow you to adapt to a more appropriate reaction in the present-day.

·       Visualise - look forward not backwards. Don’t waste time wishing for what you don’t have but rather actively build an image of how you can change and grow your relationship. For example, if it upsets you when your partner arrives late, challenge yourself to ask why they are late and be open to understanding, rather than automatically having a frustrated response.

Advisable: to be recommended; sensible.

To sum it up, this is not to say that role models are not important, they are. Our exclusive Matchmakers recommend respecting the lessons that role models teach us, so that we gain some important training from our role models. But in order to keep up with the constantly shifting environments of today’s world, role models need to remain adjustable and adaptable in our adult lives and relationships.


Tartakovsky, M. (2015). How to Relinquish Unrealistic Expectations. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 24, 2015, from