TL;DR: Both men and women have their own strengths, but healthy romantic relationships start with completing ourselves. Have your own life before building your team, the ultimate fighting machine.
I don’t know about you ladies, but when I was younger, the media taught me that I was the princess or damsel in distress who needed a prince to rescue me. Aladdin showed cooped-up Jasmine the world on a magic carpet ride. Bella Swan fell “irrevocably” in obsession (or you could say in “love”) with vampire Edward Cullen, who always (felt like he) needed to protect her from harm. Nearly every popular superhero I knew about growing up was a dude rescuing a chick from the big, bad monster.
And then there’s this whackadoo idea: Jerry Maguire told Dorothy that she “completed” him. The screenwriter might have had good intentions, but that line basically told me I’m half-baked. I’m only half a human on my own (I picture one vertical half of me hopping around on one leg, almost like a pogo stick) and become whole when I meet the right person. We fuse our halves to become the ultimate fighting machine, like a transformer.
Whether there was a hidden agenda behind these stories to keep men on a pedestal or the Cinderella complex really exists (particularly for those suffering from some kind of dysfunction), I want to catch these ideas in mid-air, spin, and throw them back with some mighty morphin girl power.
If I could summarize everything I’ve ever learned about healthy romantic relationships for women into one sentence, it would probably be this:
A man doesn’t complete you, but a healthy relationship with one is a glorious bonus.
Let’s unpack this, shall we?
Don’t get me wrong: There’s a reason men and women co-exist on a floating Blue Marble in space. We’re complements and bring various strengths to the table. One has a weiner and the other has a vagina. One’s logic complements the other’s empathy. (Notice how I didn’t necessarily attribute logic to men and empathy to women, because it can go both ways. Just ask biological anthropologist Dr Helen Fisher :-).) My 6’4” partner can grab things from high places for me, and my tiny frame can fit in cramped spaces, almost like a contortionist.
We can help each other instead of leaving women to be helpless kittens. Women also need to assert their independence if they’re going to put themselves on equal ground with men. (I think we call this “feminism” or something :-P.) Sure, the “right” guy will complement your personality and behaviors, but I’d argue that telling yourself you need someone to complete you gives away your power. To me, that’s like surrendering on your knees and offering your hands to be handcuffed (okay, sorta).
You are not half-baked; you are a fully formed bundle of cells. You have your own hobbies, your own career, your own interests, and your own growth. You have two sides of a brain, two boobs, two arms, and two legs that walk the talk with style. You are your own superhero, and your villain is codependency, a nasty green gremlin to whom you can say, “Thanks for your ‘service,’ but I’m better off without you.”
When you have a solid relationship with yourself, you can easily begin to love another with whom to share your life. Continue to have your career, hobbies, and interests, but you can open them to someone who treats you as an equal, respects your boundaries, and has long-term potential. Then you have your team, the ultimate fighting machine.
That’s the glorious bonus.
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