I’ll admit, that title sounds kind of like an ad for perfume or positivity or plastic surgery. But you don’t need to go shopping for the one thing you absolutely need to find a great partner. Because—surprise!—what you really need is to know in your heart that you’re just fine on your own.
That means you’re secure in yourself, you’ve built a life you enjoy, and nobody else is going to “make you complete.” A partner would be wonderful, but only the right partner. Until/unless you find them, you can date for fun and friendship, hang out with your friends and family, and complete yourself.
How strongly do I feel about this? As long as you feel you can’t live without a partner, you shouldn’t live with a partner. I say that because it’s really impossible to have a healthy relationship when you’re desperate to get paired up. Authentic partnerships are based on respect and trust and shared values—not desperation.
Desperation makes you unattractive to well-grounded, self-assured people (the people you should be looking for), and an easy mark for those who want to take advantage of you. It keeps you in relationships you know will never really work out, long after they have turned sour. And that’s a recipe for a lifetime of settling for less than you want and deserve.
Desperation sets in when you believe you need a partner to be happy. But you are setting yourself up for relationship failure and disappointment when you believe someone else is responsible for your wellbeing. Thinking that way stops you from setting healthy boundaries and asking for what you need and want. It prevents you from being your authentic self in a relationship. You can read a lot more about this in my book, “The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking your Obsession.”
- When did you start believing that only a partner can complete you? Was it as early as your childhood, or later, when your friends started to get married? Think about what events and people influenced this belief. Try to understand where it came from, and you’ll have a better handle on why you believe it.
- What is missing inside of you that makes you feel you are not enough and must have a partner to complete you? Is it a sense of being cared for and nurtured? You can get that from being part of a community—maybe your circle of friends or your church or your family or your choir or hiking club. You don't have to get everything you need from just one person. Let your circle hold you up. And don't forget to nurture yourself.
- What did you gain by believing this lie? What did you lose? Chances are you’ve lost a lot more than you’ve gained. Do you find yourself giving up the activities you love, friends, family members, pets, to fit into someone else’s life? Have you done things to your body (such as extreme weight loss or cosmetic procedures or plastic surgery) to try to make yourself more attractive—sacrificing any sense of comfort with your own body?
- What would happen if you were on your own? Would you then be half a person? Of course not! Stop thinking you are not fully you, not really whole. Everything you need is right inside you. If you feel empty, only you can fill you up.
The right partner would add to your life—I don't deny that. But a partner can’t sustain your life. Only you can do that. You’re already whole, with or without a partner. How would you feel if you knew in your heart that you completed you? When you get there, you can happily bide your time and wait until the right one comes along.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Certified Transformation and Recovery Coach and the leading Psychotherapist on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab and Sex Addiction. She helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict or sign up for a 30-minute strategy session. She is also the author of “The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking your Obsession.” Sherry maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com.