“I love you so much, I’d just die without you.” Some of us think that that’s true love. Wrong! It’s not love at all to think that you can’t live without another. It’s desperation, it’s being too needy, it’s smothering, it’s off-putting, it’s dysfunctional, it’s infantile….need I go on?
We need to develop ourselves to the point that if our partner were gone, we would be just fine. Sure, we’d miss them. We’d be sad without them, we’d be off-balance for a while, but eventually, we’d get our footing back and move forward in our life. Thinking that you can’t live without another means that you’re not past infancy where your survival really did depend on a caregiver. As an adult, that’s obviously not so. Every able-bodied one of us can survive on our own if need be. Believing that you can’t means that you’re way too dependent and have some growing to do.
A partnership can be a wonderful, meaningful, satisfying thing, but it shouldn’t be life or death. If it is, you’re not giving enough caring and love to yourself, so you’re desperate to get what you need from another. Of course you expect love and kindness from your partner. But if you are totally devoid of love for yourself, it won’t be enough. No matter how much they give, you will still feel empty. That’s because no one can fill that hole inside of you but you.
Have you ever been in an “octopus” relationship with someone? Where their tentacles were locked around you so tightly that you couldn’t breathe? Or are you the octopus? Wanting, wanting, needing, needing so much that you suck the life out of the other person. This might work for a while, but eventually you will both grow weary of the dance. It’s horrible if someone expects you to be their everything. And equally as awful if you’re so dependent that you live in a constant panic that they might leave.
If you find yourself in either of these roles, it’s time to do some growing. Time to make a commitment to yourself. Make YOU a priority. Start doing things that you enjoy. Monitor your thoughts and say “no” to critical and judgmental mind chatter. Pat yourself on the back for what you do right. And don’t say you don’t do much right because I don’t believe that. You’re just used to finding the “bad” and ignoring the “good.” Doing these things would be a good start.
When you have learned how to love and nurture yourself, you won’t need to desperately cling to another trying to get what you need. Knowing you can live without your partner means the chains of desperation fall off, and you are truly free to love them. And oh by the way, it feels really good to treat yourself kindly. So what have you got to lose?
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, www.infidelityandaffairs.com and buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (both print and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble.