Be My Everything

Few of us retain the elementary-school notion of a single best friend from whom we’re inseparable. As adults, we reach out to separate friends for different needs and activities.

Recently, I wrote about accountability partners, mentioning that I have a few, because one can better encourage me in a given area than another.

Yet the notion that a single individual can serve every purpose in another person’s life persists. And it causes many relationships—romantic and otherwise—to fail.

Pamela Haag’s Marriage Confidential, which I’ve written about in the past, posits that the ideal of the romantic other half, to whom you become each other’s everything, is one of the reasons modern marriage struggles. The notion puts an unsustainable weight on a single bond—albeit an important one.

As Haag points out, expecting your spouse to become your “everything” just wasn’t the notion prior to the romantic-marriage era. You had other confidants. Other activity partners. You expected your spouse to play one or a few roles—not all.

Yet today, the partner-as-everything is our overarching cultural expectation.

Expecting any one person to fill every purpose in your life brings disappointment—and disillusionment. Yes, friends and partners must spend time together and have adventures together to maintain and build their relationships. However, they need to recognize that putting the weight of “completing you” on any one person is too much pressure, too much responsibility—and doomed.

As with accountability partners, one person may be wonderful for one facet but terrible in another. Turning to the right person for the right need just makes sense. Not all friends will want to participate in all your hobbies. No one person can provide the right counsel in every situation.

And you should have multiple relationships, anyway. Research shows that strong support networks are critical for health and happiness.

A strong support network is never a single person.

Seems like we set ourselves up for disaster, no?