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By Alana Gregg, MS

Let me take you back to elementary school where fractions and pie charts filled your math class. Your teacher would draw pizzas on the board that were supposed to help you understand but all they made you feel was hungry. Maybe math wasn’t your favorite subject, but I’m sure you remember learning that two halves make a whole, right? 

While this is true in math, is it true in relationships? We grow up watching fairy tales and romantic movies where guys are proclaiming to girls that she completes him. And we gobble it up because it’s romantic and sounds really great. I am not knocking movies, I’ll take a romantic comedy any day. But what are they teaching us about relationships? 

Essentially, they are saying that you need someone else to give you value and meaning. They’re teaching us that we need to be in a relationship, and if we aren’t, then there must be something wrong with us. And once you’ve found that person, you can expect happily ever after. Most of us know that “happily ever after” isn’t realistic but deep down, if we’re honest, we still expect life to be pretty close.

Here are 3 unhealthy reasons people get into a relationship:

1. You believe all your past pain will go away- A lot of you may be convinced that all your past pain will go away the second you start a relationship. Maybe you’ve been through a bad break up or painful divorce. Maybe your loved one passed away and you are going through a very difficult grief process. It can be really tempting to jump into another relationship in order to distract yourself from the pain that you are feeling. But unfortunately, it’s not within a human being’s power to take pain away. They may make things a little easier or be a really great distraction, but at the end of the day, that pain will still be there waiting to be dealt with.

2. You believe that the right person will motivate you to get better– You may be struggling with mental health issues or an addiction. Or maybe you have developed unhealthy habits that are impacting your daily life. Many people use relationships as a way to be an external motivator to drive them to make necessary changes to their lives. While this may work for a little while, eventually that motivation typically fades away. Finding an internal reason is the only way to create lasting change. And only you can answer that “why?” question for yourself. But when we come to a relationship empty expecting someone to make our lives better, we are putting a burden on someone that they can’t carry. 

3. You believe that someone else can give you worth- Are you someone who struggles with low self-esteem? There is always a voice in the back of your head that tells you you aren’t enough. Or you look around you or on social media and it seems like everyone has someone that makes them happy. And when you don’t have a partner, it just confirms that voice in your head. Of course it feels so great to have someone interested in us. We all want to feel attractive and desirable. But when we are longing for that kind of validation, it will be much easier to fall for the wrong person because we will take whoever comes along that fills that void. Even if you are already in a relationship, your partner could stand on their head and sing love songs to you everyday, but unless you believe you’re worth loving, it won’t make a difference. 

A Healthy View of Relationships

I read a quote the other day that said, “You don’t need someone to complete you. You need someone to accept you completely.” Your partner can support you and love you unconditionally, but they cannot save you or make you whole. Each person is responsible for bringing wholeness and maturity to a relationship. As soon as you take responsibility for your own growth and wholeness, the sooner you will find the healthy relationship you are longing for. 

At Lime Tree Counseling, we are a group of skilled therapists who are passionate about helping people strengthen and improve their relationships. Located in Ambler, PA, we offer grief, addiction, marriage counseling, and trauma counseling for the Pennsylvania and Colorado area. We offer in-person and online counseling so that we can best serve you in whatever space that feels most comfortable and manageable. If you’re not sure we are the best fit for you, set up a free 15-minute phone consultation and learn about how we can help.