Just in case you’ve missed this, I’m single. I’m single by choice because I love being single. Apparently, that makes me a little bit weird.
When I was a kid, I played Barbies and dreamed of my future wedding like many girls. But as I got older, I wasn’t that interested in dating, weddings, or babies. My college roommate and I used to joke that I was on the 40-year plan. I’d go have fun, enjoy my life, and find someone to marry when I was 40. As I went through my 20s and 30s, I was open to dating and marriage, but just never felt connected enough with anyone to give up my independence. As 40 got closer I realized that I wasn’t ready to get married and might never be. I’m 43 now and I have never regretted my decision to stay single.
I can’t even give you a good reason why I want to be single. It’s not as if I had a terrible experience with men or a difficult childhood. I’m as romantically uninterested in women as I am in men. I know people who have very fulfilling marriages. I see the economic advantage of having two breadwinners in the house. I understand why people want to have someone to hang out with and share life with. And yet, I am still perfectly happy being single.
I was actually a hopeless romantic for many years. I loved fairy tales (the ones with happy endings and the ones without) and stories with a good romance. I grew up in the height of the rom-com movie era and enjoyed them thoroughly.
But somewhere along the way, I realized that in real life romances could be wonderful and magical but marriage itself is hard work. Even people who have been delightfully married for 50 years haven’t necessarily had it easy. All marriages have some dysfunction, some challenges, and plenty of compromises.
I guess I decided that I valued my independence and autonomy too much to give it up for anything less than a perfect fairy tale romance.
I stopped looking for someone to love me. I became that person instead. ~Rudy Francisco
Maybe I also rebelled a bit against the “perfect match” culture. You know what I mean, right? That myth of the one true soulmate. The whole Jerry Maguire “You complete me” thing. Although I love this on an emotional level (it’s so romantic, right?) I’m completely offended by it on a personal and intellectual level.
This concept is also strong in religious circles, especially the conservative Christian culture I grew up in. There’s a theological view called complementarianism that says that men and women are given different gender roles and only by coming together through marriage do the two people come into relational balance. Apparently, Judaism and Islam have similar theologies (although I don’t have personal experience with them). And don’t get me started on the Mormons who believe that women can only get into heaven through marriage.
So, if we are to believe religious and popular culture (here is one time where they actually agree!) then there are billions of people wandering the Earth who are only partial beings until they find their one true mate. It’s only after being joined with the right person (whatever their gender) that they are considered complete and whole.
I hope you can see my issues with this worldview.
You are saying that I am incomplete? That I am a partial person? That I’m here to fulfill some purpose on Earth but I actually can’t do it without the perfect other half? That my happiness and meaning are unfulfilled until I join up with someone else?
I’m calling that a bunch of BS.
I’m not looking for another half because I am not half a person. Or three-quarters. Or even nine-tenths. I’m not broken. I don’t need anyone else to fix me. I don’t require another person to fill some gap in my being.
I’m wholly me. I’m complete. I’m who I am supposed to be right now and I’m becoming who I am supposed to be next.
There is no surprise that so many people get divorced these days. If you are expecting your partner to make you whole, you are likely to be disappointed.
Because you aren’t a partial person. You are complete. You are enough.
Does that feel true to you?
It might not. Most of us don’t feel complete even though we are. First of all, culture tells us from a very young age that we are broken, not enough, missing things, out of balance, and waiting for our perfect other half. When that’s the message you hear a million different ways, you will believe it, even if it isn’t true.
Second, we all have things we desire or that feel missing from our lives. Some of us want partners, kids, money, careers, homes, or experiences. But not having them doesn’t actually mean that we are incomplete or not enough. It doesn’t mean that our self or our soul is broken. It just means that we are changing and growing and reaching toward new ways of expressing who we are and what we want. These are completely different truths that we often get mixed up.
For example, I really want to have a property to care for. I love gardening and taking care of beautiful places. I love organizing and painting and repairing. I feel a little empty when I don’t have a place to oversee. But it doesn’t mean that I’m incomplete, it means that the part of me that wants to be a caretaker is unable to express itself. Getting a property wouldn’t make me whole, it would just allow me to express who I am more fully.
Do you see the difference?
Becoming a spouse or a parent doesn’t complete you, it just allows you to experience a part of you that was already there. Finding someone to help you be more outgoing doesn’t fix something that was wrong with you, it just helps you bring out a part of you that was having trouble manifesting.
On the opposite side of things, sometimes partnering with another person keeps you from expressing the fullness of who you are. You might find a partner who is a great decision-maker and who is happy to make all the choices that you find difficult. This doesn’t complete you, it helps you avoid taking the responsibility for your own decisions. It makes you dependent on someone else. It keeps you from practicing the skills you need to get better at choosing for yourself.
This is why the whole “you complete me” philosophy is so insidious. People think that they need to find the right partner so they can get together and fix each other. But what happens when they break up? Or one dies? They go back to being broken, incomplete people. Maybe they come out of the relationship feeling like they learned how to be more balanced, but more often they are just as unbalanced as before. Sometimes they are even worse off than when they started because the imbalances have become more pronounced.
I’m not criticizing relationships, I’m just pointing out that if you go into one with the belief that you are broken or incomplete, you likely won’t come out the other side with a different belief. It will probably be even stronger.
So, should everyone stay single and try to become self-actualized on their own?
Although it’s not a bad idea.
I think everyone should learn to be fully, confidently themselves before they ever try to settle down with a partner. I think everyone should live on their own for a little bit before moving in with someone else. I think you should be able to take trips on their own. I think everyone needs a little therapy to get clear on what a relationship can and cannot do.
Another person cannot complete you. You are whole as you are. Learn how to be yourself before you learn how to be part of a couple.
You might be thinking right now, “I sure don’t feel whole.” I don’t blame you. First, you’ve been told your entire life that you aren’t whole or complete, so why would you feel that way? Second, even though you are actually a whole human being, it is possible that some parts of you are simply hidden away waiting to be acknowledged and manifested.
There are many reasons why parts of us get pushed aside or hidden. Maybe as a child it was unsafe to express parts of who you were. Maybe some of your whole personality was unacceptable to the culture you grew up in. Maybe you experienced trauma that made parts of you feel unsafe to be seen. Maybe you simply didn’t have the opportunity to build the skills needed to express yourself fully. There are many reasons why we feel gaps in who we are.
What can you do about these hidden parts of yourself? Well, it’s time to do the work to let them heal and rejoin you in the world. There are many ways to do this. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Use Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to change your beliefs: It’s my guess that nearly everyone has some sort of limiting beliefs about their own wholeness. These beliefs are usually formed in childhood and are so ingrained in your base coding that you don’t even know they are there. If you are looking, however, you can find them. Once you find them, you can spend hours chanting mantras, go to talk therapy, or work with a coach to try and change them. Personally, though, I like the simple route. EFT is so effective it can change these underlying beliefs within minutes. You can try to work with it alone or find a coach like me who practices EFT and can show you the best way to use it effectively to change your core beliefs.
Do shadow work to find hidden pieces of yourself: Many people think of shadow work as exploring the dark, evil side of you. This is true, but shadow work can also be exploring the parts of you that were not safe to be expressed earlier in life. Maybe they were embarrassed or shamed into hiding. Maybe they were unnecessary for some reason and have never felt able to express themselves. Read my blog post Befriend Your Shadow for more about how to reconnect with hidden parts of yourself. Bringing them out from the shadow will help you feel more complete.
Try out parts work through Internal Family Systems (IFS): IFS is a form of psychotherapy that works with internal parts, particularly ones that have been exiled from the self. By learning to reconnect with these parts and bringing them back into a healthy relationship with the entire system, you heal some of the wounds of the past. I think that some people are so alienated from certain parts of their psyche that they feel incomplete. In reality, those parts are still there and just waiting to be healthfully integrated back into the self. I just started reading about IFS and working with someone locally who practices it. There are many fascinating ways to explore your hidden parts!
Get some coaching to build skills: Some people think they are bad at or incapable of doing certain things. What they really mean is that they don’t have the skills. Fortunately, skills can be learned if you are willing to do so. If you feel like you are incomplete because you need someone to do certain things for you, then go out and learn how to do them yourself. Being willing to do this is intimately tied in with your own beliefs. If you think you can’t do something, then your beliefs will keep you from even trying. Believe you are able to learn anything, and then go out and figure out how. Think of those things that you feel like you need another person in your life to do. It could be anything from deciding what to wear to going out to eat on your own. Do you really need to be in a relationship to fill that need? Or can you learn the skills to do it yourself?
Let me say again that I don’t see relationships as bad. I have just noticed that MANY people feel that they NEED to be in a relationship because they feel incomplete. This is a terrible reason to attach yourself to another human for life. That doesn’t heal what feels missing or broken, it just covers it up so you don’t have to deal with it. It also makes your happiness and wholeness fully dependent on someone else.
Don’t expect someone else to fix you. You are whole and complete as you are. If you don’t feel that way, then you have some work to do to change your beliefs, reconnect with parts of you that have been hidden, and learn the skills you are missing to be fully yourself. Romantic relationships are amazing, but they won’t hold up if you are in them for the wrong reason. Do your own work and be confidently, completely your own true self. Once you are there, you can be single or spend your life with another complete human being knowing that if things go bad, you are still yourself.
You are wholly you. You’re complete. You’re who you are supposed to be right now, and you are becoming who you are supposed to be next. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.
Are you feeling like you need to do some work around these ideas? Feel free to email me to set up a time to chat! We can talk about the best way you can start removing limiting beliefs and reconnecting with hidden parts of yourself.