Being in relationship is human nature – we are born into relationships with our caregivers, siblings and community so it stands to reason that being in relationship is a necessary part of our healthy functioning. No man is an island, after all. But being in relationship includes friendships, family relationships, colleague relationships and more. It stretches beyond simply having an intimate and romantic partner. So the question arises, do we need to have a partner in order to be happy.
Perhaps the first thing we need to ask is why we feel it is important to have a partner and be in a romantic and committed relationship? The first thing that most people will say is that they want a special someone to love them and care for them and to act as their “always there” companion. They want someone to share memories with and have fun with, and they want someone they can count on to be there for them. These all sound reasonable, but perhaps we are casting too much responsibility on the role of the partner.
All these reasons really translate into: “I want someone to fill me, make me less lonely and take my pain away”. Again, not an uncommon assumption about relationships, but perhaps one that disempowers you somewhat by implying that you cannot do these things for yourself. In fact, maybe we can even go as far as to say that relying on someone else to make you happy is, inevitably, going to leave you disappointed.
So, no. You do not need a partner to be happy. Happiness is entirely your own responsibility – yes, a partner could certainly contribute to that happiness, but they cannot be responsible for it. You are responsible for your own happiness. Creating your own happiness means letting go of certain myths about what it takes to be happy. Hinging your happiness on the fulfilment of certain conditions is bound to bring disappointment; i.e. stating that you will be happy when… (you lose weight, get a new job, meet the right partner and so on). External circumstances and things cannot bring you happiness and realising this is half the battle won.
Create your own happiness by investing time in yourself and caring for yourself. Spend time meditating, relaxing and enjoying the now. Work on your self-esteem and let go of your baggage. Speak to a counsellor if you need help with this as it is often not as easy as it seems. But getting to a place where you are not subconsciously driven by your anxieties and past baggage is a very liberating place and a place where happiness is certainly present.
Put yourself first every now and then and meet your own needs for exercise, nourishment and pampering. Enjoy your own company as much as the company of others by taking yourself on a date every now and then. When you learn to love yourself, then others can love you too. And when you learn to find your own happiness then sharing it becomes a richer experience.
Eric is a Clinical Psychologist whose approach is warm, open, and humorous. He works respectfully with his clients to help them understand their stuck emotional patterns and their way of being with both people and life events.