Lately I’ve become more and more aware of how reliant we are on our romantic relationships and how often we seek others to fulfill us in some way.
Strolling through Facebook I saw a post about a break-up that read: “Feeling so lost without him. I don’t know who I am anymore. I want my happiness back.” Big red flags obviously go off in my head because we should never feel that our identity or happiness lies within someone else. We should never lose ourselves in another person, and we should never seek to be completed by another person.
Romantic relationships aren’t meant to complete us, they are meant to compliment us. Yes, it is okay that your significant other makes you happy. Yes, it is okay to want to spend the rest of your life with one person. But it is not okay to only feel happiness when you’re with that person and it is not okay to feel like your life has stopped when you’re not with that person. We are to seek wholeness within ourselves, happiness within ourselves, and love within ourselves. We need to put more of an emphasis on nourishing our relationships with ourselves, before trying to nourish a relationship with another human being. We need to be more rooted in our identities so that when a break up does occur, we don’t feel like that person took away who are. We need to be confident in who we are alone, before we pursue a relationship with another.
What I’ve learned in my own relationship, is the importance of two separate journeys, mine and his, that unite as one. By that, I mean, that he is allowed to have his own dreams, goals, desires, and I am allowed to have mine. We are supposed to honor our own journeys, and not feel guilty for living out our individual dreams.
I was having a conversation the other day with someone close to me who said: “I’ve always wanted to study abroad but now that I’m getting married, I can’t.” To which I immediately asked “why?” Her response was that she didn’t want to uproot her future husband from his job and home. But I told her that she could do it on her own, that she wasn’t obligated to bring him, that she shouldn’t have to throw away a dream for her relationship. But she wont do it without him.
It’s frustrating because though relationships are a commitment to the “we,” they are also a commitment to the two separate selves that make the “we.” You should not have to give up your dreams for your partner, you and your partner should be committed to a life where you nourish each other by encouraging one another to go after each dream. Why can’t you have both: a healthy, committed relationship with your significant other, and a healthy, committed relationship with yourself? You’re an individual way before you become a couple, so why not nurture both? Why do we put more pressure on finding “the one” rather than putting more emphasis in being our best selves? Why do we seek pleasure outside ourselves more than intrinsically? Why do we feel like we’ve failed if we are not in a romantic relationship? Why can’t I just be me without having a he/she?
I don’t know about you, but I want my cake, and I want to eat it too (because what good is cake if you can’t eat it?) I want a healthy relationship with my boyfriend alongside a healthy relationship with myself. I want to be able to travel whether with him or without him because that is a passion of mine. I don’t want to feel held back or guilty for doing something for myself. We are allowed to be who we are and still be in a relationship. We are allowed to be in love with ourselves and also be in love with another person.
There are days where I take a step back and truly reflect on every facet of my relationship with my boyfriend to confirm that we are being supportive and encouraging to each others individual journeys, that we are pushing one another towards our goals and toward inner growth, and that we are doing all of this while nourishing who we are as a couple. Hand in hand, we’ve committed ourselves to staying rooted in who we are, both individually and together. We’ve talked about marriage and we continue to discuss how important it is to have a life outside one another even when living under the same roof. You need time for yourself, you need time with your friends, you need time apart. It is so important to be confident and secure with who you are solo, so that you don’t feel lost when your partner isn’t around. You cannot be defined by your partner; you cannot allow a relationship to rob you of who you are, and what you value.
If you have recently gotten out of a relationship and you’re feeling lost, commit yourself to mindfulness. Ask yourself what you value, what your passions are, what you love and what you don’t, and what your goals are. Then, align your life with those values, passions, and goals. Do the hard inner work. Love yourself first. Buy your own damn flowers, take yourself out to the nice restaurant, go on vacation alone. You do not need another human to complete you. Do you, for you, and never let a relationship create a self-love deficit.
By all means, love others. But create a solid foundation by loving yourself first.
Honor your own journey and seek to become whole within yourself, before taking on the challenge of committing yourself to another.
And remember: you are born complete.