I know a couple who’ve been married for decades. He’s a jovial social butterfly with nothing but smiles and puns for the world. She’s more like Benito Mussolini with hemorrhoids — salty, controlling, and downright intimidating. I’ve never seen her smile, despite being married to The Spirit of Christmas himself.
They say opposites attract. Quite a vague statement, if you ask me. But I’d like to look at why this might be true when it comes to romantic partnerships.
It’s common for the neat-freak to marry the slob, the engineer and the artist, the introvert and the extrovert. Just look around — even at your own dating history. We see it everywhere. But how can we explain it?
I believe we all came to earth to become whole. To become fully human. To embrace all that we are and everything the world has to offer. Perhaps we have an inherent biological drive to be the most well-rounded and robust versions of ourselves. I think Darwin would get behind me on this. Certainly seems like something that would aid in the survival of a species.
I also think it’s safe to say that humans inevitably reject parts of themselves at various stages of their development. They learn that being unproductive is for losers, crying is for sissies, anger is abusive, confidence is arrogant, being too masculine or too feminine is a definite no-no. Innumerable values are instilled in us, knowingly or otherwise, and are usually enforced by shame.
Shame begins in the family, but we learn to do it all by ourselves. Look, Ma, no hands!
If you are too afraid to be creative and take risks, falling in love with musicians and artists is a great way to safely embrace your own rejected parts. I.e. being with someone who embodies a quality you condemn in yourself is a strong first step towards reconciliation, wholeness, and self-acceptance.
Now, this can be good or bad, depending on how you proceed.
The Dilemma of Self-Rejection
If you were drawn to something in a partner because your soul wanted to grow, it’s incumbent upon you to do the growing. Because if you don’t, you will continue to use your partner as a surrogate self to house the pieces of you that make your skin crawl. This may be convenient for you, but it’s certainly not fair to them.
In a year or two, when all that magical, lovey shit wears off, this will become an obvious problem. Appreciating something in another can easily turn into resenting them for being what you’re not.
Essentially, it’s a battle with your toxic shame, childhood trauma, and self-rejection on one side and self-acceptance, healing, and learning to become a whole human being on the other. Only one side will prevail, and the health and happiness of your partnership hang in the balance.
This is why every relationship is an opportunity for healing and growth. Nay, a demand for healing and growth.
Because anything that’s not growing is probably dead.
So if you thought romance was all about finding your happily ever after at the end of the rainbow, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It’s more like a journey from your fragmented self to your whole self, using the GPS of another human soul for navigation.
When I’m single, I’m pretty convinced that I’m perfect and got it all figured out. But as soon as I get in a relationship, I’m like, “Wait a second… I’m neurotic as hell.” It’s like we need the magnifying glass of intimacy to discover our true selves.
Maybe if we all knew that romantic partnerships are just as much about loving ourselves as loving another, more people wouldn’t give up so easily when shit got hard. Because it always does.
But if not that, what the fuck are you doing here?