Nobody Should Be Your 'Other Half'

Saturday, February 13, 2016

It's that simple: Nobody should be your "other half."

Romantic comedies and love songs have made this idea of having an "other half," or being with someone who "completes you" the ultimate goal. The lovesick protagonist just can't truly be happy until they win over the object of their affection. The problem with this perspective, though, is that it suggests that on our own, we simply are not enough. Without a man or woman by our side, we can never be fully happy. Something will always be missing, we are only half of a person, and we have no choice but to follow the eternal hunt for Mr. or Mrs. Right.

In some respects, this general idea can be cute or romantic – finally feeling comfortable, your life finally feeling right, because of another person. It's normal to feel different, even better, because of someone, namely a significant other. It's actually a good sign. (If your S/O isn't contributing anything notably positive to your life, then what's the point?) But when these feelings escalate to a level where you've lost your identity in another person, that's an issue.

This is pertinent to both sides of a relationship. Just as you shouldn't seek to find your "other half," you shouldn't expect them to feel like that either. They shouldn't complete you, and you shouldn't complete them.

One of my favorite examples of the blurred line between romance and dependency is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's take on his "(500) Days of Summer" character, Tom Hansen. He doesn't consider Tom to be romantic at all. In fact, he says that even though the "attitude of 'He wants you so bad' seems attractive," he actually thinks his character is "selfish." After all, Summer did say that she didn't want anything serious. It isn't fair for him to expect that to change just because he wants it to.

A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That's not healthy. That's falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.

Loving the fact that someone loves you so much is different than loving that person. If you loved them, you shouldn't want their whole life to be about you. You should want them to do their own thing too – hang out with their friends, go do things without you, have a life outside of your relationship.

Despite what Hollywood wants us to think, there is nothing cute, romanic, or desirable about putting one person above everything, about wanting nothing out of life other than that one person. It gives that person total power, allowing their existence and connection to you to define you. We, as human beings and especially as women, need to learn to be whole on our own.

It's important to be able to be by yourself, to be your own person. Encompassing this independent persona does not mean not having a boyfriend or girlfriend. Just as you can be your whole, independent self out of a relationship, you can be equally such when you're in one. I've been with my boyfriend since I was 17, but I don't view us as two halves of a whole. I still consider myself to be independent. I am not defined by the fact that I have a boyfriend. I don't fall apart if he's busy or if he doesn't text me back right away. I don't limit my weekend nights to only being spent with him. We live our separate lives – together.

Ladies, do not expect a man to complete you. It's not their responsibility. If you don't love yourself enough to feel complete on your own, then work on that first. It's not healthy, and it's not going to end well. Don't put that on him. In fact, don't put a lot of the cliché couple-y things on him. Be the driver sometimes. Pay the bill. Buy him random gifts.

It may not seem like a big deal, but this kind of mentality skews our views of both love and ourselves. The messages we put out there and the words we choose to live by matter significantly. They serve as a foundation to which we structure our lives. They are contributions to society. They are views that we will pass down to our children, knowingly or not. We should not be living by these rom-com motifs that drill into our brains the idea that we NEED a boyfriend or girlfriend in order to live happily ever after.

You can have a partner. You can miss them. You can spend your Friday nights with them. You can be inexplicably, can't-stop-smiling, head-over-heels in love with them. Just don't let yourself be defined by them. Find strength and independence in yourself.

Find someone who complements you, instead of completes you.
Find your best friend, not your other half.

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