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“You complete me,” said Tom Cruise’s character Jerry in the 1996 film, “Jerry Maguire.” His love interest in the movie swooned like the many viewers who watched the movie did, as they learned to equate romantic love with feeling complete.
But, if you are not complete until you fall in love, then is everybody who is not in a relationship somehow broken?
How the Entertainment Industry Teaches Us That We Need Someone to Complete Us
I still remember a conversation I had weeks after I graduated from college. A woman who has known me since I was a little girl said, “Once you get a job, we’re going to ask when you’re going to get married. And once you get married, we’re going to ask when you’re going to have kids.” After noticing my frustration, she said, “What else are we going to ask you about?”
I can’t be too irritated with questions like these because I was conditioned to ask myself these questions. In high school, most of my daydreams weren’t about making the world a better place or impacting people through my writing. They revolved around finding that perfect man who would lead to my happily ever after.
The media and entertainment industry indoctrinate people, especially women and girls, to believe that finding their soulmate is the most important accomplishment they can make and that their happiness, success, and well-being are dependent on that one person.
Fairytale movies teach girls in elementary school that their life doesn’t truly begin until they fall in love. Fairytale princesses like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Rapunzel train impressionable girls to believe that their safety, salvation, and freedom lie in marrying a man who can save them and take them away from the challenges that they are facing. Ariel taught us that marrying our crush should be our only ambition, and Belle taught us that our romantic love can change abusive men.
And music isn’t any better. When I was in middle school, the popular song “No Air” was released. Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown sang the following words in the chorus:
Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air
Can’t live, can’t breathe with no air
That’s how I feel whenever you ain’t there
There’s no air, no air
Got me out here in the water so deep
Tell me how you’re gon’ be without me
If you ain’t here, I just can’t breathe
There’s no air, no air
Lyrics like these send a dangerous message that life isn’t even worth living without a romantic partner. And, modern-day movies, books, and memes about finding your better half imply that you’re not enough on your own.
With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.
God didn’t create us with broken and missing pieces. His work is perfect, and it is our responsibility to let our God-given light shine.
The Problem With Needing Someone to Complete You
When we look for happiness outside of ourselves, we take away our agency to feel joyful and fulfilled in the present moment. The Baha’i writings have taught me that my spiritual happiness and success lie in detachment from everything except God. Baha’u’llah wrote:
Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves—a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being.
Ye would find yourselves independent of all else but Me, and would perceive, with your inner and outer eye, and as manifest as the revelation of My effulgent Name, the seas of My loving-kindness and bounty moving within you.
The Baha’i writings encourage us to turn to God, look within ourselves, and learn what leads to our abasement and development. Not only does needing someone to complete you delay your gratification and diminish your self-esteem, worth, and value, but it also puts a lot of pressure on your partner to make you feel whole. Baha’u’llah wrote:
Suffer not your idle fancies, your evil passions, your insincerity and blindness of heart to dim the luster, or stain the sanctity, of so lofty a station.
Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longingly to the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrapped in the mesh of its desire, findeth itself impotent to resume its flight to the realms whence it came.
Powerless to shake off the burden weighing on its sullied wings, that bird, hitherto an inmate of the heavens, is now forced to seek a dwelling-place upon the dust.
Longing for someone or something outside of ourselves to feel complete strips us of our self-confidence and contentment and leads to our downfall. We don’t want to be a burden to our future partner and hinder them, and ourselves, from soaring.
That’s why my mom always said, “Don’t find someone to complete you. Instead, find someone who complements you.”
It’s essential that we know the difference and take responsibility for our own happiness, growth, and healing.