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When You Love Yourself, You Don't Need a Partner to Be Happy

By Dr. Margaret Paul
May 21, 2017

If you are waiting for a partner to come along to make you happy, you will probably remain stuck being unhappy.

Loving Yourself, HappinessDo you believe that you need a partner to be happy? My client, Adrienne, an attractive woman in her 50's, has been married and divorced twice. She was unhappy in both marriages, but she still believes that she needs a partner to be happy. This belief continually leads her into inappropriate relationships with men who initially come on strong, only to turn out to be emotionally needy, just like her.

We attract people at our common level of woundedness or health. Because Adrienne had never learned to love herself, she generally met men who were not loving themselves. When she finally did meet a man who was loving himself and taking personal emotional responsibility, the relationship was short-lived. He soon lost interest in a woman who wanted him to make her happy.

As Adrienne and I worked together, it became apparent that she had spent her whole life taking emotional responsibility for others - her parents, her children, and her partners. In her belief system, she was supposed to make others happy and they were supposed to make her happy. But it never seemed to work out that way - she never felt happy.

Adrienne also believed that taking loving care of herself was selfish rather than self-responsible. She feared that if she did what was loving to her, instead of what everyone else wanted her to do, the people around her would be mad at her. As we worked together with Inner Bonding, it became apparent to Adrienne that her unhappiness was not because she didn't have a partner but because she was not loving herself. She was not speaking up for herself at work or with the men she dated, instead allowing people to walk all over her. She realized that in constantly trying to have control over people not getting angry with her, she was abandoning herself. It was her self-abandonment that was causing her pain and feelings of aloneness.

As Adrienne began to learn to love herself, she started to feel better. But she still felt that there was a hole in her life. She wanted a partner for companionship - to have dinner with, to go to a movie with, to travel with and play with.

"Adrienne," I said to her, "I understand that you would love to have a partner to do things with. But why can't you do these things with friends? I'm not saying to stop being open to finding a partner, but meanwhile, why not do these things with friends?"

"I don't have friends," she replied. "I have been so busy trying to find a partner that I haven't taken any time to develop friendships. When I don't have a date, I tend to isolate."

"How do you feel when you isolate?"

"I feel sad and lonely. That's why I think I need a partner to be happy. It just hasn't occurred to me that I could be doing fun things with friends."

"So this is a major way that you have not been taking loving care of yourself. You have been allowing yourself to feel sad and lonely rather than loving yourself by developing friendships. Would you be willing to put yourself in places where you might meet people and to reach out for friendship?"

Adrienne agreed that she would do this. The next week in our phone session, she sounded much better. She had met an interesting woman at her daughter's soccer game and they had plans to meet for lunch.

As Adrienne devoted herself to developing close friendships, she stopped feeling sad and lonely. As a happier woman, she started meeting happier men. The last time I spoke with her, she was dating a man she really liked. And she was keeping up her friendships, determined to not make this man responsible for her happiness.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.

Photo by Cherry Laithang


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