Writers & Their Broken Hearts

Writers & Their Broken Hearts

This post is a part of an ongoing series entitled MIP {Man In Progress}. After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life {my physical well-being, my writing career, and my romantic relationships}. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to improve one we inevitably have to improve the other.

Today I want to talk about relationships.

Romantic relationships have been a rough ride for me. (Here, I’m just gonna quote the Micheal Buble song and say “I’ve broken my heart so many times, I’ve stopped keeping track.” Literally.)  But I’ve come across an important revelation recently that I thought is an important one to share.

The story starts with Plato’s Symposium and ends with Jerry Maguire.

Not many people know this, but the idea that one romantic partner “completes” the other, or that one romantic partner is the “other half” of the other came from a gay Greek man. That gay Greek man is Plato whose work The Symposium everyone should read. What is most interesting about this book is the conversations the characters have about love. One of the characters (I forget who) relates this wonderful story about how every human being was at one point stuck to another person. (You know, like Siamese twins, except not related.) So, according to the story, every man and woman started off their existence stuck together. There were even some men that were paired together with their same gender, and some women, too. As you may know, the Greeks were very open-minded. (Read: reasonable.)  Anyways, the character goes on to talk about how eventually the men and women who were stuck together were torn apart. The pairs of men that were stuck together were also torn apart, along with the women pairs.  After the pairs were torn apart, the “halves” that remained had to roam the earth to find their “other half” in order to feel “whole” once again. When the “halves” find their “other half” they will become “complete” and so will live happily ever after. The end.

Fast forward to 1996. Tom Cruise is playing the infamous character who the film Jerry Maguire is named after. He is facing his “true love” on the big screen and (gasp) is paraphrasing Plato with the now widely popular movie quote: “You complete me.”

Flash forward again. It’s 2010 and people can’t seemed to get over the same romantic idea that has been around for hundreds of years. That idea is this:

That there is some sweet guy or gal out there that we all have to wait for in order to make our lives worthwhile.

If there is anything my several broken hearts have taught me it is this: this idea is wrong. Before you call me bitter, let me explain.

Here is what I have learned:  No one can every make you happy, but you. No one knows what you truly wish or desire, but you. No one knows what you need to hear, but you. No one knows what you want from a situation, but you. No one knows what you fear, but you. No one knows what will make you feel better on a day-to-day, minute-by-minute, second-by-second basis, BUT YOU.

Why then must we insist that someone out there fill the role that only we can fill?

You see, just like everyone else, I wanted a guy who could sweep me off my feet, be romantic, know what I wanted without me telling him, have similar interests, know how to cheer me up when I was down, etc, etc. etc. But I didn’t realize until very recently that although I was insisting that my partner should do all of the above for me, I never once insisted that I do all of the above for myself. That’s where I made the mistake. That’s when I realized that a beautiful, healthy, committed relationship does not begin with choosing our potential partner.

A loving, long-lasting, happy relationship begins with us.

The idea that we must fix our relationship with ourselves first before we can have a healthy relationship with another person is not a bold or new idea, but I wanted to explain what this idea means for me.

First of all, it is unfair to demand that someone be our “one and only.” Our sole reason for “thriving.” We should be able to thrive very well on our own, without a partner. I’m not saying being alone is the aim, or that it is preferable. Certainly I agree relationships are part of what makes life wonderful and a part of what sustains us. But our partner should only sustain us in those aspects that we cannot sustain ourselves. There are things our partner can give us that only our partner can give us. These things are fair to ask for (like company, or someone to listen) and it is okay to make these particular demands. But there are many things that our partner can give us that we can give to ourselves first, so that, in the end, our partners do not feel drained, or resentful. So that they can be relieved of the overwhelming pressure of being our everything.

We can, for instance, encourage ourselves in our writing process. Set up a system of rewards for ourselves when we make any progress. We can take up a fun physical activity that keeps us invigorated and excited about life. We can make time for moments of quiet solitude and meditation so that we don’t have to complain to our partner that we feel like they are “smothering us.” On the other hand, if we are distant, we can go to therapy and work on our intimacy issues so that we can keep a healthy closeness with our partners.

In other words, what I am trying to say is that we must kill Prince Charming and Snow White (yes, I know straight men have their notions of “you complete me” romance as well.) We must kill the archetypes and stories that make us believe that we are not capable of taking care of ourselves, that we are not capable of loving ourselves enough without needing someone else’s love, that we are not capable of SAVING ourselves should things fall apart. Because the truth is we ARE capable of taking care of ourselves, we ARE capable of loving ourselves enough, we DON’T need to have someone else’s love to make us feel “whole” or “complete.” We are already whole and complete, and if we do not feel this way, it probably means that we are not taking care of ourselves as much as we could or should–but it does NOT mean we are missing our “other half.”

That last part is an important point for anyone who has not learned it yet. Trust me. Do not look for someone else to complete what you feel is lacking inside of you. That kind of relationship never works out. That kind of relationship is unhealthy and it will end. Trust me. The truly healthy, happy relationships last a long time because both members of the partnership feel whole and complete all on their own. An individual in this partnership feels like their partner compliments them, but they do not feel like they complete them. This is an important difference.

You might be asking:

You haven’t been in a long and healthy relationship, so how do you know what works?

That’s because I have good friends who are in healthy and happy relationships and I have asked them a lot of questions and compared their relationships with my past relationships and was able to see, as clear as day, what the difference was. (Sorry friends, I’ve been studying you. I hope you don’t mind.)

Therefore, my first step toward establishing a healthy, happy relationship with someone else, is to first establish a healthy and happy relationship with myself. I have already begun this journey and I have to tell you, it has made me incredibly happy. I can’t describe it, but once you start to enjoy your own company and are thrilled to spend time on your own, something wonderful happens. Something like… a miracle.

It is my firm belief that this is how life should be lived.

If you are alone and are seeking a healthy relationship, I urge you: find complete wholeness and happiness with yourself first. Only then will you discover that the partner you might find along the way will never complete you, but will certainly be a welcome compliment to the miracle that is already you.

much love²,


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Categories: MIP (Man in Progress)