True or false: ‘You have to be happy by yourself before you can be happy with someone else’
Have you ever been told you haven’t found love because you need it too much? That you have to be happy by yourself first? Or maybe you’ve even said these things to yourself?
While these common sayings may sound clichéd, it’s true that we first need to love ourselves before we can absorb someone else’s love for us. But the belief that you have to be happy alone to be happy with someone else is not the same idea. You can love yourself and still need people – including one life partner. In fact, it is human to do so.
As a species, we’ve developed in context with other human beings. People did not evolve in isolation. It’s argued that the very dependence of human babies may be the reason two adults need one another so much. Our children are born so undeveloped and take years to reach self-sufficiency. Scientists say the sexual bond between parents needs to last not only long enough to create life – but to sustain it. No wonder reliance on friends, family, and community is not enough to create lasting happiness for most people, we’re wired up to find intimacy in partnership.
Today, the world is populated by people who need people.
I remember when my daughter, then six, came running in the door, breathless to tell me what she’d learned in school that day: “Mum, did you realise people need love? They don’t just want it. They need it. Like air!”
Just yesterday, I was out walking when a neighbor, a man in his late 90s, drove up. He held out a shaking hand to grasp mine as he told me his beloved wife had died the day before. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I know she’s the love of your life,” I said. He nodded, big tears rolling down his face: “We were very much in love. I miss her so.”
Other people’s opinion and treatment of us never stops mattering. Connection never becomes irrelevant. A need for intimacy is a genuine need, and when people meet that need, it improves our lives. Indeed, you do need to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else. But you can love yourself and still need a special love in your life. So let’s reverse the ‘happy alone’ saying: In order to be happy with yourself, it helps to connect with another. Instead of shaming others who admit to wanting love, we should support them in their search.
We are humans after all, and humans are wired to need other humans. It’s perfectly natural and even healthy to want one special love in your life.
What do you think? Are we happier with another person or can we have fulfilling and happy lives on our own? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation @eHarmony_AU or on Facebook.com/eHarmonyaustralia.
This article originally appeared on eH Advice.
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