Do You Feel Perfect on Your Own?

Okay, hold up and let me clarify before you decide that this post is a tirade about marriage.  It’s really not. Marriage can be one of life’s pleasures.

So I am not suggesting, with the idea of feeling “perfect on your own”, that you should spend your life in independent isolation.  I’m not out to advocate for the single life.

“No, no, a thousand times no!” as the old song goes.  Feeling perfect on your own is not about divorce, and it’s not about being alone.

Human beings are social creatures.  Many people (but not all) want a life partner, and most of us like — and need — to be around other people.  But there is an essential distinction between needing to be connected to another person in order to feel whole versus thriving in the presence of another person who brings out the best in you.

And that’s the distinction I’m trying to get to when I talk about feeling perfect on your own.

Here’s what I mean.

If the relationship you’re in feels more like a splint than a thrill, that’s a sign that you’re feeling like you can’t stand up on your own, that perhaps you feel a need to merge with another person to support you in facing life.  Of course, it’s normal for partners to provide support for each other through the ups and downs of everyday life.  But this is different.  This is a sense that if not for the other person, you couldn’t make it.

By the way, this happens as often to men as it does to women although that’s less likely to be talked about or even noticed.

For a person experiencing this kind of dependence, the result is that she is no longer in the relationship by choice.  She’s there because she doesn’t believe that she can survive outside it.  A downward spiral of emotions between her and her partner is likely to follow — anger, resentment, guilt, fear.  Through it all, she has an inner knowing that there is more to her than this; that she’s capable of so much more.

In other words, she has lost access to a significant part of herself.  Sound familiar?  Then you’ll remember that losing yourself is a fast path to depression and a sense of emptiness about life.  The antidote? Active self-expression.

The way to approach this is by strengthening your knowledge of who you are as a person and to increase your courage to live into that.  Surround yourself with people who affirm you.  That may require you to add some new people into your life. Get in touch with your own opinions and values; speak them and act on them.  This will help you regain your sense of self-efficacy; the feeling that you’re capable and competent.  Challenge yourself to learn to do household tasks that you’re insecure about — or learn how to get them done.  Get to know your finances and have a plan to support yourself if you need to.  All of this takes time, but once you’ve done it, you’ll no longer feel compelled to stay in a relationship for survival.  Instead, you’ll be able to make a choice.

If the relationship you’re in is hurtful to you, you’ll be able to leave.  If your life is enhanced by sharing it with your partner, you’ll be able to freely choose to stay.  Your free choice is a plus for your partner.  When you’re involved with another person by choice, because you admire and are attracted to him or her, that’s a true compliment.  Feeling perfect on your own radiates confidence and frees you to love.  To your significant other, you are able to convey, “I feel complete — but my life is even better with you in it.  I love to be with you! I choose you!”

Learn more about Perfect on Your Own groups here.