Are You Looking For A Relationship To Complete Yourself? (Why Singlehood is Not a Disease)

“To say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I’.”- Ayn Rand (in The Fountainhead)

“You do not need to be loved, not at the cost of yourself. The single relationship that is truly central and crucial in a life is the relationship to the self.” – Jo Courdert

Love. Soulmate. The One. Relationship. Marriage. Eternal Bliss.

There are several topics in life which attract a lot of desperation. Love is one of them. Specifically, singlehood when it comes to love.

I know it because I’m single, and I have a lot of single friends. Over the years, I’ve constantly heard people around me, including myself, look upon friends getting attached, lament about our singlehood, about the (poor) quality of people we are meeting, why we’re not meeting our special someone, when we’ll meet our soulmate, whether we’re even have a soulmate, and so on. Even when I was surfing through the internet the past couple of days, I came across various posts and comments by different people, sighing about their state of singlehood and spending Valentine’s Day alone (it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow as I’m writing this).

Singlehood = Incomplete?

Silhouette of a couple, walking along the beach

Somehow, the mainstream society seems to be hovering at the belief that we are only complete when we have found our life partner – our soulmate. This belief is upheld by many factors around us, such as the wondrous bliss and happiness that’s emanated by people around us who are attached, the romanticization of being together with someone in TV and media, societal and familial pressures to get married, and so on.

Personally as a girl, I’m a true blue romantic at heart. Romantic comedies is my favorite genre of movies and I absolutely relish in the romance aspect of shows I watch. I believe in the concept of soulmates and there being a special someone out there for all of us. I feel extremely happy for people around me who are happily attached.

But the society seems to have portrayed singlehood as some sort of a disease, rather than a perfectly fine state in itself. Because of this, singlehood has become a topic associated with desperation. Many believe that they’re incomplete until they find their soulmate.

Desperation and Singlehood

This leads to anxiety and desperation surrounding the topic, which leads to many pulling their hairs out trying to find ‘the one’. They think about it every day, every time they see couples, every time they see or hear about their friends getting attached, every time they witness a wedding, and every time Valentine’s Day arrives.

The problem is, because these actions are driven or partially driven by acts of desperation, their objective of having a relationship becomes to complete themselves and achieve their idealized state of happiness. They start getting into relationships for the sake of getting into one, rather than because of real, unconditional love.

This desperation leads them to two possible outcomes. The first, they attract and enter into suboptimal relationships. They get together with people who are either not right for them, do not elevate them to become better people or do not treat them with the level of respect they deserve, leading to constant unhappiness and eventual heartache. The second outcome is depression or disappointment when they cannot find the person of their dreams or when they break up with their previous partner.

Myself as a Single

At the time of writing this, I’m single, 24. There have been guys who have entered my life before but I have never been in a serious relationship before. I also have numerous friends my age who have been single their whole lives.

When I was younger, I didn’t think too much about getting a relationship nor gave any special heed to guys around me, partially because my parents had a mandate that I was not allowed to get into a relationship until I graduated (from university! They are really traditional people). While I didn’t specifically tried to adhere to that mandate, I believe it played a subconscious role in my nonchalance toward getting into a relationship in my adolescence years and subsequently remaining in a state of singlehood.

Looking For Mr. Right

In the past few years however, I started opening myself up more and more to looking out for Mr. Right. It was an action that was driven by many varying factors around me. During Chinese New Year, relatives would curiously probe if I have a boyfriend. Friends around me started getting attached, one by one. Whenever I catch up with old friends, they would ask me if I’m attached yet. I started hearing of friends getting wedding invitations from their peers. Common topics among friends included singlehood, dating and relationships and there was a certain exasperation surrounding being single and how ‘time was running out’.

As I opened myself up to the prospect to finding my special someone, I got to know more guys. Over the years, there have been various different guys who expressed interest. However, I just never seemed to find the right match amongst them.

Frustration Surrounding Singlehood

It would get depressing at sometimes. I had different hypotheses, from there being something wrong with the guys around me, me not looking hard enough and not looking in the right places, me being too successful and as a result, intimidating to guys. I wondered if there was something wrong with me. I wondered if I was ever going to meet my special someone and if I was going to be single for the rest of my life. I wondered my soulmate accidentally died at some point and I was never going to meet him since he was dead. I wondered if I even had a soulmate to begin with. There was a certain tinge of desperation I viewed for my future, regarding relationships.

It was frustrating. I sat down to really think through this issue. I didn’t understand why something like being in a relationship could actually drive someone to such level of unhappiness. Shouldn’t relationships be a happy thing? Isn’t it supposed to bring me infinite joy? Why would something that is supposed to bring me bliss result in so much unhappiness in myself?

Realization That I Am Complete

It was from my introspection and probing that it finally hit home – I was looking at all of this the wrong way. All the frustration, anticipation and expectations on getting a relationship arose because I was looking for a relationship to complete myself.

For example, I was deferring various aspects of my life to begin only till I find my soulmate. I would think of about how I would go to this place as a romantic getaway when I get together with my special someone. I would think about buying couple gifts with my soulmate. I would see certain items and think about how nice it would be when I get them as gifts from my partner the next time. It resulted in hidden tension and anxiety toward finding my life partner.

The truth is, I am already complete by myself. There is no need for my life partner to enter into my life before all those things can happen. I can already be doing them as and when I want to. Just because I’m single doesn’t mean that I should be putting my life on hold.

I was looking at a relationship as two halves forming a whole, when it should be about two wholes forming a bigger union. When I released myself of my limiting perception, that was when my views toward relationships totally changed. I stopped hinging expectations toward when I should get into a relationship and how it should be like. I stopped looking at relationships with a feeling of desperation. I became grounded in myself. I became truly and perfectly happy in the state of singlehood.

Does this mean I don’t want to be in a relationship? No, I do want to be in a relationship. The difference is that desire stopped being rooted in fear-based emotions. It became rooted in groundedness and love-based emotions. (see next section)

Are You Complete By Yourself?

Are you complete by yourself? There is a huge difference on your perceptions and attitudes toward relationships between when you think of yourself as an incomplete person and when you think of yourself as already complete.

This can be an elusive quality. In the face of this question, many people will be quick to jump to their own defense and reply “yes, I’m complete.” But understand that being ‘complete’ is a state that is all encompassing. It is beyond just ‘thinking’ that you are complete. It emanates from your thoughts, emotions, actions and behaviors.

As I mentioned in my personal story above, being complete does not mean there is no reason to be in a relationship anymore. It means looking at relationships from a totally different viewpoint. It means looking toward relationships to accentuate you and who you are, rather than completing you. It means you start truly living life and stop becoming bothered by whether you are single or attached.

Below are eight attributes that differentiate both viewpoints of seeing yourself as incomplete vs. seeing yourself as complete:

  1. Half vs. Whole: The former views relationship as a union of two halves to form a whole. The latter views relationship as a union between two wholes to form a larger whole.
  2. Desperation vs. Groundedness: The former results in desperation to get into a relationship, or refusal to let go when the relationship is not a right fit. The latter results in deep-seatedness in yourself. The latter means you only get into a relationship that is right for you and you readily let go of a relationship that is not a right fit.
  3. Myopia vs. Clarity: The former results in a lack of self-awareness, lack of clarity of what’s best for yourself or disregard of it. The latter results in full clarity on what you want and pursuit of only what is best for you.
  4. Fear-based vs. Love-based: The former is driven by fear-based emotions, such as anxiety, ego, pride and fear. The latter is driven by love-based emotions, such as true, authentic and unconditional love, willingness and courage.
  5. Negativity vs. Positivity: The former results in negative feelings toward relationships or during the course of the relationship, such as misery, anger, hatred, heartache and unhappiness. The latter leads to positive feelings, such as abundance, bliss, joy, happiness. Contrary to popular belief, hate is not the result of love. Hate is the result of pride. True unconditional love does not result in hatred.
  6. Subjectivity vs. Objectivity: The former leads to irrationality and what people refer to as ‘blinded by love’. The second is rooted in objectivity.
  7. Poor quality relationships vs. Soulmate relationships: The former attracts negative relationships into your life. When you view a relationship as something that completes you, you attract other people who have this mindset too, and that leads to a relationship which is rooted in fear and negativity. The latter attracts your soulmate relationship, one that elevates you, makes you a better person, brings you actual bliss and joy.
  8. Dependency vs. Independency: The former leads to dependency and reliance on the partner in the relationship and withdrawals without the partner. The latter leads to symbiotic, interdependent roles in a relationship but at the same time, full independency by yourself.

How To Become Complete By Yourself

There are several thoughts people unknowingly adopt which result in an incomplete perception of themselves. Below are three guiding checkpoints in becoming a fully, complete person:

1. Love Yourself Unconditionally

Do you love yourself fully and unequivocally?

Look at yourself in the mirror. Look at where you stand in your life currently. Look at everything about yourself and examine them thoroughly. Are there aspects of yourself which you dislike? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Is there anything that you wish is different about yourself? If there are, what are they? Write these down.

Next, examine yourself again in the same areas and look for the aspects which you like. What do you like about yourself? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Skill sets? Abilities? Beliefs? What have people complimented you on before? What were some of your greatest accomplishments that you are proud of? When were the times when you felt really proud of something you have done? Write them down.

Now, look at your dislikes and your likes. Realize that your dislikes are part of what contributed you to becoming the person you are today. Without them, the other parts of you which you like wouldn’t have existed. Love who you are right now, unconditionally. While you can work on addressing those dislikes and improving yourself, you need to start off from a point where you already unequivocally love who you are right now. Improving yourself will just make you love yourself even more.

2. Be Completely Happy By Yourself

Are you happy being by yourself? Do you love spending time with yourself? If you are to find out that you are going to be by yourself for the rest of your life, will you be completely happy?

This is a second level check to the first point. If you already love yourself unconditionally, you will be completely happy by yourself. You won’t look toward someone else to complete you and make you happy. Don’t look toward a relationship as an end point where eternal happiness can be attained. Complete happiness is already possible and attainable right now, at this moment, by yourself. It is not conditional upon being in a relationship. In fact, many people are in relationships but are not happy, because these are suboptimal relationships that are rooted in fear-based emotions.

3. Live Life To The Fullest

Are you living life to your fullest now, or are you deferring certain aspects of living till when you get into a relationship? Are you waiting for your special someone to come along before you can do X, Y, Z things?

When you do that, you put off living till an arbitrary point in the future. There is no need to wait to get into a relationship before you can be completely happy. Think about what can you do today that will make you completely happy. What can you do with friends, family and people around you as you live life to the fullest? Do you want to go to a certain country? Want to have a certain gift for yourself? Go do them now or plan to get them done. Don’t defer it till you get into a relationship.

Being Complete

When you start seeing yourself as complete, getting into a relationship becomes something that is supplementary and will make you a fuller person, vs. a prerequisite to make you whole. Since you do not look toward having a relationship to complete yourself, your attitude toward love and relationship stops becoming rooted in fear and desperation. You stop looking at singlehood as an undesirable state.

You start becoming grounded. You start to know what you want and what’s truly right for you. You become full of self confidence, love and happiness. While you look toward being in a relationship someday, at the same time, you are perfectly happy being by yourself.

Post note @ 16 Feb, 12:45pm: Commenter Kris shared a link which exemplifies the essence of this whole article in pictorial format. Check out the site here: The Missing Piece Meets The Big O. Thanks Kris for sharing! :D

Here are my other articles on dating and relationships which you may find of interest:

Update Sep 2013: About three years after I wrote and published this post, I found and got together with my true soulmate, Ken Soh, someone whom I met fleetingly when I was in university and only realized that he is my “one” 10 years later. :) Read our love story and how you can meet your true soulmate in life: How To Find Your Soulmate (seven-part series)

Image ©

  • Celes

    Hi everyone, the article has been featured at LoveBirds, an open source dating ideas blog that centers around dating topics and dating ideas. Check it out for interesting and unique dating articles! :D

    Article Link:

  • Lob Eng

    Yes, it up on Lovebirds
    Do recommend your readers to read them up too.

  • Aidah

    So true Celestine. Thank you for writing up the article!

  • Seungjin

    I don’t know. I have girl friends who live like what you stated. Them enjoying life and doing fun stuff with girl friends or alone.

    That don’t turn me on. They just seem like they are covering up their loneliness.

    A woman, or a man, cannot be complete by oneself. They need each other to be complete. That is what I believe.

    You gotta show each other some aspect of yourself that is available for the significant other’s help.

    Each of our meaning of love is not whole unless we are in a relationship – when we finally have a partner that we can define the meaning of love with.

    Don’t try to be complete, because you can’t alone.

  • Juancav

    I like your thinking, just that the time has come for you, or vocation.

  • nutuba

    Good insight! This is thoughtfully done and thought provoking.

  • Jay

    Great article as always. You have some brain in that head of yours!

  • Evelyn Lim

    You sound so level headed. Half of us are not as level headed when we first entered our first relationship. I learned about relationships the hard way. I have always longed for the experience. So I got what i wanted.

    I went through a number of relationships. But because I did not have enough clarity, they all turned out negative.

    Having been someone who has gone through breakups and now married to someone who loves me, I have to say that your tips are excellent!! It’s true that you need to be and feel whole first; otherwise the relationship you are in with someone else will be a highly challenging one.


  • Ginae B. McDonald

    Absolutely! Love yourself first, realizing that you are sufficient all by yourself. Well done Celes!

  • Kris

    That is so true! Great article! I could say the same about relationships. I’m single, 29, and just like you I have never been in a serious relationship. However since over 8 years I am in “virtual” relationship, which in normal situation should lead to something “real” and serious. Why it’s still “virtual”? Because I realized too late the truth that you, Celestine, perfectly depicted in this article. The goddess, which I am obsessive about, is already engaged to someone else. She is very wise girl, and when I asked her “Why? What is wrong with me?” she replied “You don’t care about yourself”. I realized that it’s an absolute true.

    I am concerned about you Celestine, because when I read your whole blog I realized that in some strange way you have same thoughts as me! Every your word is to me like my own. If I could write as good like you and I would have strength of younger me, I would wrote the same. My current depressive state is caused by lack of live energy. When I was younger I always wanted o help people just like you. When I read your articles I feel really happy that there is someone in the world that have exactly the same thoughts. Please take care Celestine and try to think not only about helping us, the lost souls, but mainly about yourself.
    As for the relationship I can only add to this article the problem of personal development. However I don’t have any experience with so advanced relationships, so I will recommend you something that in my opinion is a perfect “picture” for your article.

    Keep up the good work Celestine! You are a great help for us. Thank you, for showing me your unimaginable live energy and sharing it with me by your words.
    And sorry for my “simple” English.

  • Wen

    Very well said Celes.

    Not compromizing your standards, and enjoying your life with or without someone special is something I believe in.

    I’ve never believed in looking for someone to “complete” me, as much as I have been looking for people to “add value” to my life. And that is exactly what I have been getting.

    Cheers to you.

  • Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome

    I think so much of our ideas of “love” have to do with a 20th creation, rather than a true situation. Until (I’d say) the 1960s, marriage was more of a contract – and families were built on finances and personal survival – we’re super luck to have the opportunity to take it beyond that to self-actualization, which means we’re having to figure out all over again what relationships mean… and the first part of that is figuring ourselves out.

  • Ava

    Great article! I just broke up, and this article is thoroughly thought provoking..

  • Tina

    This article is great and thorough! I had to just accept being single once I realized there were a whole lot of toads out there and only one prince. It was also hard to accept that I had to be me and be happy in order to meet him. As soon as I gave up on trying to complete myself with another person, in walked Jay…right into my Child Psych class. He sat down in front of me, I punched him (he was in my way), and two weeks later we said “Hey let’s get married.”

  • Ava

    By the way,

    “Desperation vs. Groundedness: The former results in desperation to get into a relationship, or refusal to let go when the relationship is not a right fit. The latter results in deep-seatedness in yourself. The latter means you only get into a relationship that is right for you and you readily let go of a relationship that is not a right fit.”

    How do you define “right fit”? Compromising is part of being a couple as it brings 2 individuals together as one couple. So ‘right fit’ is actually rather a ambiguous phrase. Care to elaborate? Thanks!

  • Lydia

    Hi babe, you can verbalise your thoughts and emotions clearly. I do feel for singles who are affected by peers presure. I have learned that there is no specific soul mate created for anyone. There are many options (singles) and we make our choices. I hope the singles would be more proactive about their social life and not leave it to “fate”.

  • Hayden Tompkins

    “partially because my parents had a mandate that I was not allowed to get into a relationship until I graduated (from university!”

    This makes me laugh! My ex’s family (Indian) felt the same way. The worst mistake I ever made was to convince him to tell them that we were dating. :bangs head on wall: Not my best move ever.

  • Celes

    Lob@ Hey Lob! I have stickied a comment above with referral to the article link and your site :D Thanks a lot for featuring the article!

    To everyone, thank you so much for your feedback and comments! I appreciate you taking the time out to leave a note! :) This article has also been featured in LoveBirds, an open source dating ideas site. Feel free to check it out and recommend to your friends for interesting dating ideas! :D

    Kris@ That website is genius!! It’s like a perfect pictorial representation of what I’m talking about in this article! I’ll plug it up into the article! Thank you for your kind comments, it’s really sweet! :) Do you have twitter/facebook? Feel free to add me there! By the way, your english is not “simple” at all – in fact you have an extremely good command of it!

    Ava@ Hey Ava, thanks for your comment and your question! :)

    The right fit applies to the fundamental core values and principles of both individuals in the relationship. For every relationship to sustain, there has to be a baseline compatibility of certain key values. This can be anything ranging from person to person, for example passion for growing, same ideals toward family/relationships, etc. When these values ‘match’, every other difference between the couple can be managed/compromised accordingly simply because the key determinants of what’s going to let the relationship work out are in place.

    Lydia@ Hi Lydia, welcome and thanks for your comment! :) I agree with you – Singles shouldn’t settle because of peer pressure or societal pressure. Rather, they should focus on finding the person who is a real supplement and fit to them. It will lead to long-term sustainability of the relationship.

    Hayden@ Hi Hayden and welcome! :D I thought that was pretty funny too, so I added that in! My parents (particularly my mom) can be really conservative so it felt a little oppressive growing up. I have a lot of Indian friends and they tell me about their culture which can be quite conservative, so I know what you mean there!

  • Panzer

    Societal expectations and family upbringing tend to weigh upon the single versus getting attached and which makes one happy.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that if you want to have a child, then getting married has to come in not so much for your benefit but for the child’s benefit of growing up with 2 parents.

    For those who are not into family and babies yet, take your time not so much to “find” the perfect soulmate but rather to learn how to “become” the understanding and forgiving soulmate.

    And singles can be happy and be part of families too! I have relations who are single and are happy with the way they are. They have nieces who love them back.

  • Keith

    This really falls right in line with what you told me a while back when you said I should stop thinking about the kind of woman I want all the time and start giving some thought to the kind of man the kind of woman i would want would be looking for. It all fits right together. I think I’m figuring it out, and once I do get it figured out I have no doubt that Ms. Right will find her way into my life. I’m almost there! :)