Whether you are looking for a significant other or wanting to improve your existing relationship, the answer lies near and dear in our very own selves. Years ago when I was working on improving my relationship with my hubby, I realized that I wanted him to be and do certain things. I made a couple of lists. One included traits that I wanted him to have or how I wanted him to be, for example, confident, fun, light-hearted, friendly, social. The other list was what I wanted from him, such as, attention, compliments, passion, to be considerate and helpful.

In pondering these lists, I realized that I wanted to ensure that I always have these qualities in my life. That made me become aware that what I actually wanted wasn’t for my partner to have these traits, but rather, these were traits I wanted in myself. I wondered, why am I seeking what I want for myself, in another?

During a recent visit to the local library, I inadvertently stumbled upon some psychology books in which I read some theories regarding childhood development. I read about Margaret Mahler, a physician and psychiatrist who focused on the area of childhood development. She theorized that infants see themselves and their mother as one entity. Another psychologist, Harville Hendrix, calls this “Original Wholeness” in his book, Getting the Love You Want. Mahler goes on to posit that through various phases in childhood, children distinguish themselves as separate from their mother and, thus, experience a loss of wholeness. Hendrix says that, as a result, adults feel an emptiness from this lack of wholeness which we then try to fulfill with various activities or people. In terms of people, essentially, we look outside of ourselves for Mr./Mrs. Right to fill our void. He says adults believe that, “Partners will magically restore this feeling of wholeness.” He says we are “yearning for completion” which reminds me of the line regarding relationships, which so many people could relate to, in the movie, Jerry Maguire: “You complete me.” He continues by theorizing that, “Their failure to do so is a main reason for our unhappiness.”

That makes a lot of sense in terms of looking to others for what I am lacking. That is indeed my primary mistake when it comes to my relationship and a major lesson that has taken me decades to understand. Thus far, I suppose I have found it more difficult to find and develop the traits and actions in myself than to, sort of, borrow them from someone else. I have been using people (nicely!) to get what I want from them. That sounds twisted, but it is basically the truth (some overdue relationship honesty).

We want to be with this person because in his or her presence, we think we can (and sometimes do) morph into that which we want to be. Or if we don’t become that that which we want, we at least have it as close as possible. The ego tries to trick us and make us think it’s this person, in and of itself, that holds the key to the traits that we want. And so we must be with him or her in order to feel or be this way in which we are wanting.

But this is not the case. How we want to be and feel is within ourselves. It doesn’t come from another person. Somebody may inspire or motivate us, but ultimately being the person we want to be must come from within ourselves.

It is time to cultivate the traits we want in ourselves rather than look to a significant other to be them for us. The magic and mystery is that, oftentimes, after we become what we are seeking, we do find this mate or our current partner miraculously begins to take on such traits. And that is simply the icing on our cake.

Author's Bio: 

Karen Eller has been researching and applying methods for personal growth for over 15 years. She is a Reiki Master and has her Master’s degree in Sociology, as well. She writes a blog about how to be joyful. www.keystojoy.wordpress.com She is currently writing a book about transcending the ego.