You Do You

During my teen years, I had no idea who I would be or even who I wanted to be in the domain of romantic relationships. When I entered my twenties, all I wanted was to find someone who wouldn't drop kick me like a bad habit as my teenaged boyfriend and first-love had done. By the end of my twenties, it was clear that love and pain were synonymous. Throughout my thirties, in order to avoid the experience of pain, I steered clear of love by only getting involved with those who wanted me way more than I would ever want them. At 40, when it came to dating and mating, I was exhausted, confused and convinced my Jerry Maguire simply did not exist.

For many decades, it never dawned on me that "there was truly no one out there." What I mean by that is, everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- I dated was merely a reflection of me. Like me, they were simply not available to "love and adore me." I remember stumbling across one of my favorite Gandhi quotes, "Be the difference you want to see." I remembered shouting, "Darn it, I want to see me in love!" That little voice in my head then replied, "Then be in love, be the difference you want to see." Oh, happy day! I took that challenge on like a cowgirl in competition! Full speed ahead, I began to spoil myself rotten. I took myself out on wonderful dates. I bought myself lovely gifts. I even wrote myself a love letter. I made it my number one priority to love and adore myself to pieces.

I fell so in love with myself that I finally kicked a nasty cigarette-smoking habit that I had been struggling with for years and years. And in a matter of weeks, the strangest thing happened to me. No, I did not fall in love with the man of my dreams. I fell madly in love with me. As a result, I no longer needed a partner, like an addict needing a fix. Sure I still wanted one, but I didn't need one anymore -- because my experience of myself had become authentically whole and complete.

In retrospect, I didn't know loving and experiencing myself as whole and complete was in my control. I depended on mathematical fractions to measure my experience of myself and love. If I was alone, I could only experience fifty percent of love until a romantic partner came along and added their 50 percent to mine; only then would we together be 100 percent whole. I didn't like that I could only feel complete if there was a romantic partner in my life, but again, I had no idea there was actually an option besides living a single life as half a person.

Today, I know that needing a partner to compensate for what is lacking in my life, and wanting a partner to abundantly share my life, sets the stage for two very different relationships. It's the difference between having someone who completes you, and having someone who enhances you.

The challenge with "compensation relationship" is that your partner is completing you by offering you what you feel is missing in your life, and therefore, if and when the relationship ends, you will be left somewhat incomplete as a result. Alternatively, in an "enhancing relationship," if and when the relationship is over, you are still left complete and you don't have to resume life with the sense of being less than whole, or feeling as if something is missing. I now know, as long as I am present to my needs and able to fulfill my wants, there will never be anything missing.