Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Looking for One’s Other Half

I have often felt like a misfit due to my views being different from the values of the culture I live in. One prominent example is my attitude towards romance. In my twenties especially, most people I knew were looking for the “right person” and many expected me to do the same. I remember many frustrating conversations where the topic came up and I was asked why I did not want to get married. My answer quite often provoked more questions, and despite my best efforts I usually felt that I could not get the person to understand that like there are some things they would not choose for themselves, I simply did not feel inclined. I don’t remember ever asking anyone why they did want to get married. It’s not because I wasn’t interested in their views, but because I thought the answer was personal, like a choice of career or hobby.

Marriage aside, the idea of an intimate relationship was not a non-issue for me. I felt that the concept of looking for another person as one’s other half was ingrained in the collective mind-set, but it did not work for me. When I looked for someone as a potential relationship partner, I felt lacking because I was not in a relationship. The biggest problem for me was knowing how much people revere the idea of the right person, and feeling that in my flawed human state I could never live up to someone’s expectations. An obvious challenge was the truth of my feelings about marriage when there seemed to be consensus among the people I knew that the point of any relationship was finding the right marriage partner. I could not be close to someone and cover up my truth.

A lot of people gave advice on finding the right person. Some of them were single or divorced, and although logically I knew that they did not have it all figured out, I was confused by the fact that everyone seemed to have answers even when they didn’t, and I had none. In theory I understood that another person could not fulfil me, and that I had to make myself happy first before I could think about being happy with another. Of course I was aware that if one tries to be happy for the sake of finding someone, one is missing the point. Still, I did not always recognise that inner work aimed at self-improvement was still putting pressure on myself to do better than just where I was. Striving to improve sounds admirable, but there is the danger of rejecting unwanted aspects of one’s person.

I only really stopped feeling powerless about relationships and my ineptitude when I went beyond rational thought and started dealing with my true feelings. Even though I reprimanded myself for it, there was the fear of the unknown if I never got into a serious romantic relationship. In my mind there was a social stigma around being an unmarried older woman. Worse than being unworthy of any man’s attention or failure at what nearly every person could do at some point or another, i.e. be intimate with someone, was my fear of falling through the cracks in society. I felt that I would be judged as abnormal if I didn’t live up to this expectation. The fear boiled down to being an outcast, but when I realised I was comfortable with my circumstances, I could have conviction in my own choices regardless of society’s standards.

Even though I am in a stable relationship now, I still think that the right person is a myth. When we look for our "other half" it is based on an illusion that the light in me needs the light in another to be whole and complete. Instead I think that the other half we are looking for is our own darkness. Our fears and weaknesses give us important information. When we own and acknowledge those unwanted aspects of our being, the light in us is more powerful. Finding a special connection and possibly sharing one’s life with another is a mystery I will not pretend to understand.