There was a time when propagating our species was the highest priority. To do so, one needed a mate to create families, which made having a love partner very important. That may not be the case today, for we can all see we have bred humans to beat the band. Although some would argue this, I believe our human species today must adopt a new priority; that of self-actualization. This has been coming since enlightened humans started opening our minds to life’s spiritual realm and changed the world as much as science and technology.
Our new priority
Self-actualization is the process by which we find the gifts and talents our creator gave each one of us and then we endeavor to share them to make a better world. Many are fortunate enough to find this connection in careers that fill them with passion, joy, and fulfillment. Others share their gifts with the world in different ways. One need not have a romantic partner in order to self-actualize, this is a journey an individual can fulfill.
However, today our culture spends so much energy on the subject of finding love and making relationships work that one would think it is the most important ingredient in our lives. Before you dismiss this last point, think of all the other industries centered on making you look good so you can attract a mate. These range from dieting, personal training, cosmetics, and cosmetic surgery. Let’s not forget about the geometric growth of online dating for all ages.
I have been single going on five years now and I can sense my friends’ sense of urgency to find me a romantic partner. When their efforts irritate me, I cynically accuse them of pushing me to have a partner so I can be as miserable as they are, but I know they mean well. They genuinely believe that I must be unhappy not having someone to share my life with.
Are couples right?
After two twenty-year marriages, I too agree that it is wonderful having an intimate someone to share one’s life establishing a sense of family and working together with another on common goals. But I have also discovered that it is a helluva lot better to live alone than to be with a bad partner.
I also know couples who have been together a long time and they seem to live more miserable lives than a convict in solitary confinement.
What this says to me about couple-ness is this; two people were never meant to become one entity. We were born as individuals with a journey to discover our truest self. Anything that binds that effort cannot be good for anyone.
So, my answer to the posed question is thus; no, having a romantic does not guarantee happiness.
It takes work to live happy whether or not you are single
This is not a dissertation against couple-ness, on the contrary, having a great partner can be a great blessing. But you need not rely on someone else for your happiness. This is not essential.
The most important thing is to self-actualize by living a conscious life where you can be open to the present and experience gratitude for what it brings you every day.
If your preference is to share life with someone, good for you, but this will take conscious work to ensure the relationship is life-giving to both partners. This takes courage, patience and a willingness to know and accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses. This goes way beyond romantic love.
Having a partner is not a need, but it is a living, breathing daily decision both must make to make a relationship work. If it is not life-giving to both partners, it becomes a useless appendage best removed.
Having good companions in life
You don’t need a romantic partner to enjoy companionship. Many single people (me included) live active, fun-filled lives and enjoy the warmth and camaraderie of close friends. Many others enjoy great relationships with others in the midst of wonderfully fulfilling careers. They have incredibly satisfying lives.
If you are contemplating staying married or marrying someone because you fear you might need them to accompany you through your last days, don’t do it. This is a big mistake. Bottom line is, enjoy life as it comes and, if the time arrives when you need someone to take care of you, hire a caretaker.
Live your life to the fullest. If you are convinced a romantic partner will help you do that, got for it, but don’t settle for just anyone, search for the right one. If you can’t seem to find him/her, have faith you can continue living a wonderful, meaningful life without them. Not having a romantic partner is not a failure, you have everything you need within to create the life you want.
Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will lead to contentment.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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