“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?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Subjectivity vs. Objectivity: The former leads to irrationality and what people refer to as ‘blinded by love’. The second is rooted in objectivity.
- 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.
- 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.
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: 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! 😀
Update Sep 2013: About 3 years after I wrote 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” 9 years later. 🙂 Read our love story and how you can meet your true soulmate in life: How to Find Your Soulmate (7-part series)
This is part of my Single & Finding Love series:
- Are You Looking For A Relationship To Complete Yourself? (Why Singlehood is Not a Disease)
- ‘I’ll leave love to fate.’ 5 Myths Keeping You from Finding Love, Debunked
- Are You Treating Dating as a ‘Game’?
- Are Looks Important in a Marriage Decision?
- ‘Should I Marry a Guy I Don’t Love?’
- What I Have Learned about Marriage From Being Hit On by Married Men
- How I Used to Be Afraid of Intimidating Men and Why It Does Not Faze Me Anymore
- How to Move On From a Relationship (5-part series)
- How to Find Your Soulmate (7-part series)
Image: Couple silhouette