The media narrative on what constitutes a successful relationship has been so warped by society that I think real relationships are actively being harmed by it. People are choosing to stay in unhappy relationships or opting out of relationships altogether because they don’t know what a lasting commitment ought to look like.
Today, we begin to debunk them using my favorite medium, pop culture.
Originally, I intended to make this a single post, but I found SO MANY examples that infuriate me that I decided to split it up by theme.
Today? The concept of your significant other being your “other half”. Spoiler alert, they shouldn’t be.
“If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.” —Noah, The Notebook
What even is this? You don’t have to be something just because the other person is. If this person wanted to be with themselves, they can do that without you. It’s called being alone and it’s totally rad. You are there because you add to their lives just as you are with them because they add something to yours. Don’t stop being an individual just because you’re with someone. Otherwise, you are cheating them and yourself.
“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts…” (Blah blah, this goes on a bit) —Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally
By the same token, we have this… Series of statements which has been recycled so heavily in our culture that it seems like the only way to prove you love someone is by listing a bunch of arbitrary and somewhat annoying traits that you like about the person.
The problem with this is exactly the same as the quote above – it assumes that the person in front of you is static. People change. So you’re a bird today. Tomorrow you might want to be coffee. Coffee is cool. You can work together to become the best individual versions of yourself and accept that the person in front of you may bear little more than a passing resemblance to the person you started seeing however long ago, or the relationship is doomed, and it will harm both parties as it goes down. So long as you’re loving the person even as they evolve, you’re good.
“Can’t you see? Every step I have taken, since I was that little girl on the bridge, was to bring me closer to you.” —Sayuri, Memoirs of a Geisha
No, damnit! If you are nothing without your significant other, you are an incomplete human being. The relationship and its success absolutely cannot be the defining force in your life. Let’s get morbid for a sec – if that person dies, what’s left of you? If they leave because they’ve gotten bored with this 2 dimensional version of you with the sole trait of “loving them”, what’s left?
Your journey is your own. You are your own person. You will continue to be a person whether you are in a relationship or not. Celebrate having a great partner to walk the path with, but never confuse the partner for the path itself.
I cannot emphasize enough how problematic these supposed romantic lines are. They sound good in the moment, but these feelings are not sustainable and for good reason. A good relationship allows you to sit in the driver’s seat of your own journey with a great person sitting shotgun, while doing the same for them.
Think about it this way, a couple is not a pie chart but a Venn diagram. Behold, the magic of clip art!
Now go Venn diagram all over each other. Next time, women are from Venus and men are from Mars? Seriously, who comes up with this crap?