The day we broke up, Mary put her finger on a huge mistake I had made while we were dating.
It was something I said. You know, a phrase of the incredibly ill-advised kind. In my defense, though, I really don’t remember whether I actually meant it, or if I said it just to impress her. Either way, it was unwise of me to say it.
Before we continue, let me warn you: You’re in for a cringe-fest.
One day, after lunch, we were alone sitting, talking about the upcoming Christmas and New Year, when I came up with a brilliant idea. I wanted her to remember that day, and what better way to create a magical moment than uttering an over-the-top, excessively corny, and terribly ill-timed love statement?
I turned around and said something like:
“I really don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re the only thing that makes me happy, and I have realized I love you more than I love myself.”
I know: Ugh!
If it had been a romantic movie, especially a bad one, Mary would have fallen into my arms, kissed me passionately, and started crying, touched by my words. She would also have said something similar and asked me never to leave her. At least that's the way the whole scene played in my head.
Instead, she opened her eyes in horror, froze for a second, and told me, in a very serious tone, “I don’t think that’s okay,” and asked me never to say such a thing again. A few minutes of excruciating awkward silence ensued.
Confused, I agreed to her request, while trying to understand what had just happened. My perfect love statement hadn’t produced the results I was expecting, but I decided to put the incident behind me. Little did I know, however, that I had just shot myself in the foot. My over-the-top, romantic love statement had backfired colossally.
As it turned out, that particular exchange raised a huge red flag for Mary, and ended up playing a significant role in her decision to leave me. You see, my words implied that my happiness depended exclusively on her. I had made her accountable for the smile on my face.
The valuable lesson that came from a painful breakup
This is the lesson I got from this experience, one that I had to learn the hard way:
Your happiness is your responsibility, and yours only. If you think a person can, or should make you happy, you’ll be placing an unbearable burden upon their shoulders, one they won’t be able to carry long, and will eventually put down.
Happiness is personal, and no one can give it to you. It is also a life-long struggle: You aren’t born naturally happy and you can’t reach a state of perpetual happiness.
Fundamentally, happiness is a habit, and you won’t find it exclusively in love. You constantly have to make a conscious effort to be happy where you are with what you have while you fight to reach your goals and get to the next milestone in your life.
My point is, love won’t make you happy. You need to be happy to start a relationship, and not the other way around. That will enable you to enrich your relationship and your partner’s life by sharing your happiness with them, not by demanding it from them.
Expecting your partner to be the sole bringer of happiness in your life is an infallible recipe for disaster. Trust me on this. Burdening your partner with the weight of your happiness is like stepping on an ant while trying not to crush it.
In short, Mary left me because I was a needy, whiny, and lackluster wretch. And I needed Mary because I had deposited my happiness on her. She was everything to me.
Simple logic 101: If your everything goes away, then what are you left with?
One of the keys to a happy relationship is sustainable self-love
Being happy is essential for starting and nurturing a relationship. When we're happy by ourselves then being with a person becomes a matter of choice, not necessity. That way, two individuals can share their lives with each other and show independence and comfort in being away from each other. Relationships based on sheer dependency are burdensome in nature and don't usually last very long.
It's already difficult to understand and reach happiness as individuals. Therefore, appointing your partner as the sole bringer of joy in your life is a declaration of laziness, conformism, and mediocrity. It's like admitting that you aren't brave enough to look for your happiness, so it is easier to just delegate this responsibility to someone else, all in the name of love.
So what increases your chances of having a meaningful, fulfilling, and long-lasting relationship? Starting it as a happy person. And one of the best ways to reach this happiness is the practice of self-love:
Focus on what you actually need, instead of what you want:
There's a difference between needs and wants. Wants refer to cravings: those things that satisfy us momentarily but don't bring a meaningful or long-term benefit to our lives. Examples of wants include junk food and entertainment.
Instead, concentrate on what has the potential to improve your life and increase your happiness levels significantly: invest in your education, work on your fitness, cultivate and nurture social relationships, and actively pursue your goals and dreams.
Choose to be happy:
Contrary to what most people believe, happiness is something we have to choose consciously, instead of something we have to find or receive.
It's not about "finding the good in every situation;" it's all about choosing happiness despite the circumstances. There's no point in having a clear destination in mind if you're not going to enjoy the journey.
We all make mistakes. Some people make them and learn from the experience, and some others cling to their mistakes and repeat them constantly. Be part of the first group. There's no point in constantly chastising yourself for being human.
Live on a purpose:
Feeling like your existence serves no meaning in this world is a clear indicator that you're not ready for a relationship. You have to find your purpose before you find love, or you'll end up making your partner your reason to live. The resulting relationship will be a parasitic one, when it could (and should) be of harmony, balance, help, and sharing.
Never forget: A successful relationship does not lead to happiness and fulfillment. Happiness and fulfillment lead to a successful relationship. Understanding this principle makes all the difference, and prevents you from drowning in a river of your own tears.