real life

If you're looking for The One, you're looking for the wrong thing.

Bern and her husband.

Can one person really make you happy?

If you had asked me this question as a fresh-faced, deeply naïve 19-year-old, I would have answered with a resounding, yes. That this man that I had just fallen deeply in lust/love with was all I would need and he would have said the same thing. Because – love.

As someone who has now been with the same partner for almost 20 years and also, as a 38-year-old married mother of three, I’d now tell you that no, it’s not only unfair, it’s unnatural to expect any one person to make you happy.

A much wiser and older friend of mine once said to me that true love isn’t looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction.

I of course, being 19 and dating the hottest guy I’d ever laid eyes upon, mentally scoffed and politely appeared to take her advice. And I’ll admit, it took some time for me to understand what she meant. That one person cannot fulfill us, forever. That our girlfriends, our siblings, our parents, our grandparents, our work colleagues, hell, even strangers on the street, all play a vital role in what makes us, as people, us.

Gone Girl actor, Rosamund Pike, whose movie is being held up as a something of a dark fable about marriage, keeps getting asked about marriage, and these comments of her’s raised a few eyebrows:

“Women have ridiculous expectations of their mate. In my grandmother’s day, you wouldn’t expect your husband to fulfil the same need in you as your sister, or girlfriends, or colleagues at work. You’d have different needs met by different people. Now we want all our needs met by one person, and I don’t believe that’s possible. Or rather, it is, but I don’t think it’s universally achievable.”

Bern and her husband in their early days.

Not only is unachievable, it’s not healthy. I’m sure many of you can relate to that one friend of yours who simply falls off the radar when they meet someone new.

Being so infatuated with that person that when they come back up for air, it’s too late, you’re no longer there for them. It is hard to not fall utterly and deeply so in love with someone, that you feel as if they are your only source of oxygen but unfortunately, that’s just science fucking with you.

It’s all part of the three phases of falling in love being 1) lust, 2) attraction and 3) attachment, all driven my hormones and chemicals. We are biologically designed to feel this way or quite simply, the human race would die off.

To expect your mate to be your primary source of validation and happiness not only puts an awful lot of pressure on the relationship, it puts far too expectation upon them as a person.

It also leaves you wide open for crushing, often unrecoverable heartbreak, should it end. YOU are responsible for making yourself happy. From other people we should draw qualities we admire and share with them, what makes us feel good. We also need to understand that relationships work both ways. We need to make sure we are sharing love, not simply expecting it from that other person.

Rosumund also believes that separation is key to a relationship

“I go out with my partner and we are put next to each other – there’s a feeling of, ‘What, you don’t think we can’t operate without each other?’ I don’t need him as a crutch. Of course, he’s the person I want to go home with but he’s not necessarily the person I want to sit next to. I’d rather meet someone new, and he would too.”

Truth.

I think if we could all head into relationships as confident people who actually like ourselves first, we’d allow that person to complement us, not complete us.

How about you? Do you rely on your partner to complete you? Or would you say that to expect this will be the undoing of a relationship?

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