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.
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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.