The harmful idea of “finding your other half” | Valentine’s Day edition

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February 14, 2021 by Cláudia

It’s Valentine’s Day again (ugh).

‘Tis the season of heartshaped pillows, an overload of professions of undying love and pink-and-blue coloured everything.

While I normally take every opportunity I can to celebrate, Valentine’s Day just brings to the surface too many harmful notions about love, relationships and our own purpose.

The worst of all? The idea of soulmates, or “the other half”. This idea that every person has someone who will complete them and make them feel whole.

This implies that we are inherently incomplete. Somehow lacking something that we can only find in someone else.

We as humans are obviously gregarious. I’m not saying that we cannot find meaning to our lives through the connections we establish with others. We can absolutely do that. What I have a problem with is this one-size-fits-all notion that being in a committed heterosexual monogamous relationship is the one-size-fits-all formula for happiness.

When I suddenly became single, I was worried that my life would suddenly feel meaningless. Empty. That I wouldn’t be enough. I was wrong. There are so many things I’m doing, I’m learning, I’m building. Being single can be beautiful, as being in a relationship can be beautiful.

Especially for women, society tells us that being single is somehow shameful, or an indication that something is wrong deep inside us. That something is broken. Incomplete. Our biggest purpose in life is to find a partner and exist in that relationship.

This idea makes us spend our entire existence trying to find that other person or hoping “our other half” can single-handedly heal our traumas, give our life meaning and make us feel worthy.

But here’s the catch: we are enough already. We are complete. No one is going to come and fix us, give our lives meaning, bring happiness. We already have that in ourselves.

A romantic relationship can be a complement. Not the reason for our whole existence.

And there can be infinite meanings for life. Romantic love is just one of them.

This glorification of romantic love downplays our value as whole individuals. And any other meanings we can find for our existence.

This glorification of romantic love misleads us into thinking being in a longterm committed relationship is the only way to exist in society. That being in a relationship is always better than being single or that a breakup is always a loss. And that someone single is somehow broken, in a way that only a partner can heal.

This hierarchy of romantic relationships as always being more important and more meaningful than other relationships makes us possibly neglect other meaningful relationships just because they don’t necessarily fit the heteronormative standard.

All in all, there is no one-size-fits-all. I’m not saying for one second that I think pursuing romantic relationships is not meaningful or empowering. It can be. It’s simply not the only purpose in life, there is a myriad of other goals we can be working towards. And they are equally valid.

Deep breath. Say it with me: I don’t need anyone to complete me. I am already whole.

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