Wright Foundation | March 9, 2016

Relationship Myth #1:
If Only I Had a Relationship,
Then I’d Be Happy…

When you’re single, it’s easy to think, “If only I had a relationship, then I’d be happy…”

Does this sound like you…?

Sure, it’s perfectly normal to miss some of the good things about your previous relationship, and of course, to miss the connection and closeness. Perhaps you’re spending a lot of time reflecting on the good times, experiencing a sense of nostalgia.

Truth is, relationships are not what makes a person happy. WE are what makes us happy, and we are in charge of finding our own happiness. This is an inside job; it’s something we have to work on with our own feelings, desires, and yearnings.

When we’re looking for another person to affirm us, tell us how we should grow or what we should do, or validate our feelings, we should really be looking within. We must first learn to affirm ourselves. Understanding ourselves and doing our own set of work helps us learn how to generate our own sense of wellbeing and happiness.

Many of us have this idea that there’s some kind of “soulmate” out there for each of us. But really? There are BILLIONS of people in the world we could connect with and work on a relationship with. It’s really about working on who you are and your own self-validated intimacy, and then taking it out into the world and finding someone who will help you continue to bring out your best and grow as a person.

Who is responsible for my happiness?

We all feel a broad spectrum of emotions—hurt, fear, sadness, joy—and these emotions are all true and positive. If we constantly seek only joy and avoid other emotions, it can actually dampen the joy! Joy is beautiful, but it’s not everything.

So often when we’re dating, we run into our date’s parents or friends and hear, “Oh, you make him so happy,” or “I’ve never seen her like this before.” We’ve found that when you hear this statement (especially early on), it just might mean the person you’re dating isn’t such a happy person in general. Maybe they aren’t being true to their emotions.

We all get stuck in a honeymoon period at the beginning of each relationship. We’re euphoric with the idea of the new person and our attraction to them. It’s exciting to connect and anticipate the things to come. It’s a time of joy and exploration.

This is happiness, but it’s a temporary state. Think how happy you would be if you won the lottery. How long do you think your newfound happiness might last? A 1978 study by Brickman, Coates, and Janoff-Bulman measured the happiness of lottery winners vs. a control group. The results? After one year, lottery winners were not happier than controls and took significantly less pleasure from a series of mundane events.

We frequently see this effect in newlyweds and post-partum—once the excitement over the big deal has passed, they go back to the state they were in before the festivities. Positive and happy people are generally drawn toward that state of being, while negative and fearful people are generally drawn to their state as well.

Does that mean you should brush someone off just because you hear you make them happy? No, of course not. However, it’s probably time to examine the validation you receive from that statement, and realize you’re not responsible (or even capable) of “making” someone else happy.

We are each in control and in charge of our own happiness.

Seek a partner who can meet your yearnings and with whom you can be honest and open with. Don’t look for someone who you think you can “mold” into the “perfect” person. (The perfect person doesn’t exist!)

“If I enjoy being single so much, why do I need a relationship?”

So what about the flipside? Well, relationships are congruent for many of our life goals. If we want children and a family someday, then having a relationship with someone who shares the same goals and motivations will get us to our destination.

At the same time, it’s totally okay if you need some time to get to a place where you really want a relationship. Sometimes we’re so focused on our growth and personal development, the thought of worrying about another person, understanding their feelings and yearnings, and working on goals together seems a little overwhelming or even distracting.

If you’re enjoying being single, and the playground and adventure of dating lots of people—then go with it! Be certain you aren’t avoiding relationships simply because you’re afraid of intimacy or being open with other people. Allow yourself to be honest with others about your needs and yearnings and to “own” your feelings.

Dating around is a great opportunity to engage with a lot of people. You can explore your reactions with different people and how you feel in different situations. You can learn from good dates (and even from bad ones) and it doesn’t necessarily need to lead to anything bigger down the road. Maybe you just discover friendship, a business connection, or someone who is interesting.

In a relationship, we seek a secure base from which we can go forth and explore the world around us. When we’re meeting different people, we’re seeing how we are compatible, but also how we comfort each other. Ask: Is this person someone who sees me for who I really am? Are they someone who I can express my desires and frustrations to? Can I be completely open and honest with this person?

Your conflicts and emotions should be embraced and explored as you journey toward bringing out your best, whether it’s your best single self or your best in-a-relationship self. It’s all about you!

If you’d like to learn more about bringing out your best self and getting a deeper understanding of who you are, we urge you to join us for our next More Life Training, coming up this weekend, March 11th-March 13th. Visit www.wrightliving.com to learn more about this opportunity and others. Email us at hello@wrightliving.com if you have a question or if you’d like us to address a specific topic during our Wright Living weekly podcast. Let us know how you’re finding your own happiness!

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Blog post image courtesy: Flickr user 98640399@N08.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.