If your life isn’t good enough without a partner, what do you bring to a relationship? A not good enough life?
“I don’t like my life, I need someone to share this with.”
Yes, relationships are a place to learn, heal, and grow. For sure. You can depend on a partner, be inspired, and support one another. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
But if you have a really hard time living your life single, any romantic partnership you enter will have a built-in ulterior motive and a fundamental power differential that make a mature relationship highly unlikely.
It becomes more of a healing fantasy. A hostage situation. Savior complex. Child-parent dynamic. A codependent tango.
True, most people love a good knight in shining armor — to be swooned and swept off their feet. But needing to be rescued isn’t a sturdy foundation to build a healthy relationship on.
But Loneliness Is Literally Fatal
It’s true — loneliness is the worst shit in the universe. And I don’t mean being alone. Solitude is quite healthy. But loneliness, meaning the feeling of being unseen, unheard, unimportant, and emotionally disconnected (even while surrounded by people). Love and belonging are irreducible human needs, so it’s no surprise that social isolation is a major risk factor for suicide.
So yes, it’s true that people need people. But if you’re living an isolated, disconnected, and invulnerable life with few to no meaningful human connections, you’re gonna date like a fucking emotional terrorist, and it’s not gonna go well for you.
Dating while lonely is like grocery shopping when you’re starving to death.
I say this not as a moral judgment or indictment of some personal shortcoming. I mean that it’s logically (and empirically verifiable) what any human being would do with chronically unsatisfied emotional needs.
A Solid Foundation
To adapt Marshall Rosenberg’s analogy, it’s best to want a romantic relationship like flowers for your table, not air for your lungs.
So how do we get there?
It’s imperative to have mutually authentic, deep, meaningful, human connections as a prerequisite to romantic partnership. Friendships and other non-sexual relationships are the training wheels for secure attachment. It’s how you learn to get your emotional needs met with a robust portfolio of emotional stocks and bonds, so to speak.
A significant other is simply a specific kind of relationship. You can’t have shallow, shitty, unboundaried, inauthentic relationships with everyone in your life, but have a super healthy romantic connection. Won’t happen.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
So if you want a great love relationship, ya really gotta start with all relationships — family, friends, coworkers, community. And yes, of course, your relationship with yourself has to not suck.
2 thoughts on “What You Bring to a Relationship”
👏 👏 👏 A partner is not a therapist!
(PS: sorry to all the former partners I used as therapists)
😂. Therapist OR partner. They can’t be both.