“You Complete Me” or “Why I Need to Get a Life”

Apr 3, 2020 | featured

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Author, Attorney, Podcaster, Media Commentator, Motivational Speaker, Blogger, and Creator of the World's Most Successful Breakup Program. For more information about becoming happy, healthy and whole after a breakup, visit Program Resources and join us on the PRIVATE Facebook Group, 

  • Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You (Hachette Book Group 2009)
  • Getting Back Out There: Secrets to Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After the Big Breakup (Hachette Book Group 2015)
  • Getting Past Your Past Workbook: The Definitive Workbook to Emotional Healing, Health and Happiness (La Bella Vita Publishing 2012)
  • GPYP Power! Affirmations (La Bella Vita Publishing 2019) 

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Backstory to this Post:  This was originally a Psychology Today article that received A LOT of traction when it was published.  I am rerunning it in response to nausea-inducing poetry posted in the FB group (that the group found gross and disturbing.)

Living Your Own Life, Your Own Way, Brings You Closer to Having a Supportive, Healthy Partner

When we’re incomplete, we’re always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we’re still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter. ~ Tom Robbins

I’ve said over and over that in order to find the right person, you need to BE the right person.  No one else should complete you.  They should COMPLEMENT you.

A healthy person finds independence and completeness of another to be wildly attractive.  Many people would think why would two people who were each complete and happy in their own life, partner up with someone similarly situated?  Because secure in your own skin and complete in your own life is good, and complementary with a partner who can help carry the load is really good.  The paradox of throwing yourself into your own life and doing your own thing is that you become REALLY attractive to healthy others doing the same. 

Healthy people support and supplement each other 

Each has different strengths and stays in their lane when it comes to what the other is good at.   No one is crossing the line to do what the other one should be doing for his or herself.  No one is enabling the dysfunction of the other.  No one is abandoning the other to tend to things outside the relationship that causes interference with the relationship. Each partner understands the term “reasonable” as in “reasonable expectations of the other.”  No one is asking for too much or accepting too little.  

Happy, healthy people with happy, healthy lives don’t have time for the issues and nonsense that go on with unhealthy people.  Save those messes for someone similarly screwed up.  The healthy person is OUT OF THERE in a FLASH. 

I have stated, many times in the past 25 years, the fear of abandonment causes abandonment because we’re needy and whiny.  Conversely being secure and complete makes us very attractive to other secure and complete people.  Like attracts like.  Water seeks its own level. So if you want a happy, complete partner…guess what you need to be???     If you’re chasing around after unavailable people, guess where the problem is?  Guess who is also unavailable?   Have fun with that. 

Until we stop to smell the roses in our own life and find out who we are and what makes us tick, we go blindly from relationship to relationship expecting to find US and we find disappointment instead. 

We must learn to not only SMELL the roses, but to plant the roses, water the roses and watch them bloomALL BY OURSELVES. We need to give ourselves roses so that when someone comes along who gives us roses, we don’t assign all the meaning in the world to it. Someone giving you roses doesn’t mean he or she will never leave. Someone giving you roses does not mean he or she is the 3 a.m. person.  Someone giving you roses does not mean that he or she will not turn into a bananahead.  When he or she gives you roses, it means you got some roses.  Whoopie!  Now put them in water and stop being silly about it.

We also need to NOT put a photo of the blooming roses that we plant FOR OURSELVES on Facebook.  We need to keep those precious moments to ourselves. Don’t take photos of what you’re eating for dinner (honestly, no one cares)….the only exception to that is if you take a selfie dining alone and LOVING IT.  That you can post on Facebook. I guarantee there will be those green with envy and much greener with envy than had you posted a photo of “Mr. or Ms. New Thing 2020.” Because you will always have your dining alone experience and how it means you are rocking the singlehood….the Mr. or Ms. New Thing 2020?  Probably not so much.

We need to find out what kind of roses we like and how to keep disease and bugs away from our roses. We need to DO THINGS ON OUR OWN.  The hard things, the tough things, the really “CRAP I wish someone were here to help me,” things. Once we have confidence in our own life and in ourselves to withstand whatever troubles come along, we will attract much better people. Once we build and polish our lives, we will be so much more equipped to share that life with someone else. 

But what we usually do is wing it and then wonder why it didn’t work out so well. STOP WINGING IT.

We are each responsible for our own fulfillment. If we are unfulfilled without a partner, we are going to look for too much from a partner and it will fail.   We will never ever learn what is “reasonable” and what is fair and acceptable. We will always be questioning ourselves and our partner.  Do I have the right to say something about this person leaving me to go do x, y and z for whomever (classic narcissists go running off to “do things” for the world while throwing you crumbs.  Classic codependents accept those crumbs and say, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”) 

There is a difference between “I am playing basketball on Tuesday nights with the guys,” ME TIME and “I need to go run errands for my quite able-bodied but lazy-as-sin brother for the 12th time this week.” time. Discerning which is REASONABLE requires that you have time alone between relationships.   

Answer: The former (playing basketball) is not only reasonable but TERRIFIC!  The latter is a whole heap of trouble and very unreasonable. Know the difference. 

You MUST know your limits and boundaries. You MUST hold tight to your standards even if everything else is somewhat “okay,” you need to go when you drop down on the priority list for the umpteenth time.  If your mate isn’t around because he or she is off helping (fill in the blank: mother, brother, ex-wife, ex-husband, ex-something, sister, daughter, on and freaking on), you need to assess the situation. If this person’s elderly mother has no one else, that is probably an okay thing and you might want to help. If able-bodied brother is just a whining bag of dysfunctional “can’t keep a job, a woman or semblance of a normal life….” bones, then your partner is enabling that and it needs to stop or you need to go.  Not “think about going.” Not “talk myself into why this is okay…” but GO.  If you’re afraid that loneliness and emptiness awaits you if you go, you haven’t completed yourself before linking up with Mr. Take Care of Everyone But You.

If you have not yet figured out how to have your own life without a relationship, you are NEVER figuring it out IN a relationship.  And, therefore, the relationship is destined to:

Fail.  Fail.  Fail.

Hurt people hurt people and conversely filled people fill people.  When two filled people find each other, the bounty overflowth.  Corny but true.

In Getting Past Your Breakup, I encourage people  to fulfill themselves and become a happy and whole person before going back there again.  In Getting Back Out There, I repeat this and reiterate it in the “couples” section.  It must continue even when you’re happily ensconced in a relationship.  Being complete is an on-going job.  It doesn’t end when you find someone.  That is why I urge people to READ GBOT along side GPYB, even early in the breakup – long before you are ready to date or be in a relationship – so that you GET – really, truly GET – that a fulfilled life is a PREREQUISITE to a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.  (See the “Program Checklist” below).

When you learn to be complete and happy on your own, you will never again be a prisoner in another relationship and you will not imprison another.  When a person has enough self-care and self-knowledge to be strong and happy on their own, they shine to another with a healthy perspective and reasonable requirements. Together they are a tour de force that handles life on life’s terms no matter what comes down the pike.

Hobbies, Interests, Friends, Me Time, Alone Time, Unplugged Time

I beat the the drum of “hobbies, interests, friends” all the time to my therapy clients and boot campers. It’s something you MUST DO and MUST HAVE before you go meandering into another unfulfilling relationship.

Fill yourself up today.  Even if you’re IN a relationship, never stop giving to yourself.  Never stop having HOBBIES, INTERESTS and FRIENDS separate and apart from your partner.  Self-care NEVER stops and alone time NEVER stops.  You understand that to be a happy and whole person you MUST HAVE your own HOBBIES, INTERESTS and FRIENDS. And ME TIME (alone time).   You must have unplugged times to nurture yourself.  Never stay PLUGGED IN all the time because your friends, family or partner wants you to be.  It’s NOT REASONABLE to be plugged in 24 hours a day, nor is it healthy. If  you’re dating someone and they want to be in constant communication, run away. Run far away.  If you are easily swayed by the representations that someone makes in texts, you need to stay out of texts. 

You must have hobbies, interests, friends, me time, alone time, unplugged time, world go away time. 

If you give these things up for a relationship, you are going to be devastated should your relationship end.  And, even if you find the healthiest person in the world who can’t adore you ENOUGH and you both are having a “one for the ages” story, there is no guarantee that he or she won’t be hit by a falling anvil one day and then DOINK!  you’re alone again. (I know because it happened to me). You must acknowledge that inevitability otherwise you’re simply putting your head in the sand of denial and will get a really rude wake up call if and when you’re alone again. 

Therefore,  it is IMPERATIVE to forge friendships, find hobbies and interests, and make your own life wonderful.  Not only will you have great things to keep you busy and interested, but when you meet someone similarly interesting, you will each find the other attractive. And never ever give up your hobbies, interests and friendships.  Allow each other the time away from the relationship to replenish and renew.  Then they will come back to the relationship relaxed, refreshed and oh so interested in you.

Learn to understand that the healthiest people do not need another to be completed. They enjoy another to help out and be supportive when times get tough. A fulfilled and happy partner is the best ally in life.  But in order to find a fulfilled and happy partner, you need to offer a fulfilled and happy partner.  The way to do that is to start now building a strong foundation.  To find the person, be the right person.

Fill. Fill. Fill. in order to avoid Fail. Fail. Fail.

Fill your life up with you.

And you will never be alone.


Copyright © Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

All Rights Reserved No Duplication is Allowed Without Explicit Permission of the Author

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