You Complete Me?
You complete me. How? Now this is a pretty common love life belief with lots of implications. It is very common to fall in love, and experience the person you love as possessing “something” you need, like a piece of a puzzle that is not complete without it.
This kind of feeling is very romantic and sweet, but very unrealistic and risky. Why? Because your love relationship has a better chance of “growing” if your goal is to shoot for “two whole and independent individuals in love.” Let me run that by you again, “two whole and independent individuals in love.” Let me explain.
You see, you want a love relationship with enough room in it for the two of you to grow as individuals. Let’s take an extreme example, if you and I fall in love, and we think of our relationship as you’re the strong one and I’m the weak one, this assignment of characteristics might feel familiar and cozy at the beginning, but the rigidity in it will certainly be a problem later on.
What happens when I’m sick of being the “weaker one?” What happens when I’m sick of you treating me like the weaker one? What happens when you freak-out because I stop acting like the weaker one? What happens when you stop acting like the stronger one? And so on. If you box yourselves and your relationship into divisive role-playing that you’re familiar with (because you may have learned this or observed this growing up) there will surely come a time when the roles won’t fit as well.
The alternative is to expect to grow with your partner from day one of your relationship. Let’s continue with our previous example of “stronger one and weaker one.” In a love relationship that is “growing,” stronger ones get a chance to be weaker ones from time to time without overwhelming partners that are not really used to seeing it.
Of course, this is also true for weaker ones who come into their “strengths” and start showing them in the relationship. In a relationship that’s growing, the stronger one will make plenty of room for the weaker one to grow into more independence and ability than he or she had at the beginning of the relationship.
Some people fear this kind of growth. They equate it with an eventual breakup. “If he/she gets stronger he/she won’t need me any more.” ‘If I show my weakness and need he/she won’t respect and love me any more.” Quite frankly, if you are in a relationship with no room to grow, there is a greater chance of a breakup under these conditions.
Can you live with having to stay the way you were at the beginning of a relationship in order to keep the relationship? Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on what you decide) love relationships need to grow to thrive. If there is no room for growth, no flexibility to accommodate change, somebody is bound to complain.
Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan