This is the fifth post in our series 8 Signs You Aren't Ready for a Relationship.
Ever since the mid 90's when the box office hit romantic comedy Jerry Maguire coined the phrase "You complete me," those three words have been bandied about by star struck lovers all over the world. And as much as I love the phrase and the romantic notions it evokes - the idea of two becoming one, the circle becoming complete, of two people so connected that they would be incomplete, broken, without the other - the truth is, well, it's just not healthy.
A much better catch phrase would have been "You complement me," but I'm guessing that would not have brought in as many millions at the box office, been plastered on everything from greeting cards to posters to puzzles, or have been the title of many hit singles from country to R&B.
But at least it would have been a good description of what a healthy relationship looks like.
So, when you're in a relationship, feel free to continue to use the phrase as a modern day equivalent of "I love you." Scribble it on a love note you leave in your partners luggage when he goes away on a business trip, text it to him while he's in a meeting, or leave it on a post-it note on his bathroom mirror so he thinks of how wonderful you are while he's shaving.
Just don't actually live those words.
Do You Have an Empty Life?
So how do you know if you just like the romantic ideals and feelings that these words evoke or you actually have an emotional emptiness inside that you're looking for a partner to fill?
Ask yourself the following questions, and answer yourself honestly:
Do you feel like your life has no direction or purpose when you are not in a relationship?
Do you typically take on the viewpoints, opinions, beliefs and values of your partner instead of thinking through difficult issues yourself?
Do you typically find that all of your friends are those that you have had mutually with a partner, and that you don't have any close friends as an individual?
Do you find that you don't have any activities or interests that you are passionate about, other than those that you share with your partner?
When in a relationship, do you find it very uncomfortable or unpleasant to do things or socialize without your partner?
If you answered yes to any of these, you may be on an unhealthy path looking for (or currently in a relationship with) a partner that is there to fill your life with what you are lacking.
Never Good Enough
It's not uncommon. Many of us have parts of our lives, parts of ourselves, that we just don't think are good enough, maybe that we don't believe we're good at, that we subconsciously look to fill by finding a partner who is good at those things.
Where does this come from? Mostly from those seemingly harmless and well-intentioned childhood messages we’re so often given of "No, don't do it that way, that way's wrong, " or "You’re not good at that, you’re better at this," that eventually chip away at our confidence and lead us to believe there really is something wrong with us, and that we really do need someone outside of ourselves to handle these things we find difficult.
If we believe we are inferior, that there really is inherently something lacking within us, we’re going to be looking for a completer instead of an equal. Someone who we need rather than someone who we want to share our lives with. Do you see the difference? Needing someone doesn't equate to loving someone, or being loved.
Too often we spend our time focused on finding someone who we hope will magically step into our lives and make everything better for us, rather than looking within ourselves at what it is we believe we’re lacking and working on finding that within ourselves first.
When I finally figured this out and embarked on a mission to become within myself what I had been looking for outside of myself, I was finally able to raise the level of my self-esteem and build up my own inner strength. I then no longer found myself attracted to, or attracting, the same type of unhealthy men that I had been so drawn to before.
Of course we all long for love, for someone to share the beautiful (and not so beautiful) moments in life with, for someone to share our love with, and that's totally normal and healthy. The difference is that when you are healthy, you are feeling full of life and full of love to start with, and you are only looking for someone to share in that life and love romantically. You're not looking for someone to fill empty spaces in your life, or empty spaces in your personality, or empty spaces in your schedule, you're only looking for someone to fill that empty space in your heart.
Fill Your Cup
A real relationship, a great relationship, is about two people who are already complete, in and of themselves, joining to form something tremendous, and mutually beneficial to both. The masculine is complete in his masculinity, and the feminine is complete in her femininity, and together they complement each other to form something even better.
In any healthy relationship you need to give as much as you take. When you are full of life and love you have a lot of love to give to the relationship, you have a full cup to pour from, to add energy into the relationship. When you are not full you are looking to take from the relationship, and you are drawing off of the other person's cup, taking that energy away.
There is always that give and take, but if your cup is nearly empty to start with you won't be able to add to the relationship, and you will only be drawing off of the cup of your partner, eventually draining it as well. At that point the relationship cannot sustain itself, and it crumbles.
The interesting thing is that when you bring a lot of love to the relationship, you will attract a partner who is full also, and you will both have more love than you started with.
So if you're feeling like you need a relationship to fill up some voids in your life, step back, take a break from the seeking, and look within. Understand what it is that you're lacking in your own life – whether it be socializing, someone to discuss your thoughts and philosophies with, someone to laugh with – and fill those need by finding friends, confidants, and connecting with family or other social groups. Fill that need now, yourself, outside of a romantic relationship.
Once your emotional cup is full you will be ready to have a healthy, romantic relationship that's simply overflowing...with love.
Next post in this series: Don't Spend All of Your Time Hunting