Should Your Happiness Depend On Your Romantic Relationships?
By Stephanie McPhail, MS.
Happiness is a personal and abstract emotion that can be affected by many things, including our romantic relationships. While it’s natural to want to be happy in our relationships, we have to understand that our happiness shouldn’t depend entirely on them.
Of course, romantic love relationships can bring us a lot of joy and fulfillment. When we’re in a healthy intimate relationship, we feel connected, supported and loved. We can feel a great degree of happiness that is simply different from any happiness we could find alone. It may come as no surprise that research shows people who are in these types of relationships have a greater sense of wellbeing and are generally happier than those who aren’t.
The problem comes up when we depend on a romantic relationship as the main source of our happiness. This puts a lot of pressure on our partner to fill our emotional needs, most of which we should be providing for ourselves. This is simply impractical and cannot last. We can’t realistically expect a single person to fulfill all of our needs and desires, and doing so can lead to disappointment and resentment.
Whether our relationships are romantic or otherwise, when we depend on them for happiness, we’re setting ourselves up for frustration. They can certainly add to our happiness, but we must understand that happiness is truly an inside job. Cultivating and maintaining our contentment and wellbeing is our own responsibility. By relying on other people to make us happy, we’re giving up our power to control our own emotional states. This can lead us to feel helpless and lead to patterns of codependent behavior.
So how can we make sure that we don’t wind up a prisoner of other people’s treatment of us, and instead become our own greatest ally when it comes to creating happiness in our lives? The biggest factor is learning to develop a steadfast and elevated level of self-esteem and acceptance. When we feel positively about ourselves and believe that we have true, unconditional value, we can feel happy and satisfied with our lives whether we’re in a relationship or not. To do this we must be able to take care of ourselves, seek out our own interests and create our own worthy goals, and decide for ourselves that our lives have purpose and meaning.
Another important consideration is to create other important opportunities for happiness and fulfillment in our lives. Spending time with other people who matter to us like friends and family, finding new hobbies and spending time engaging in activities we enjoy doing, and taking time to grow ourselves personally and professionally are powerful ways to build a foundation for lasting happiness. By building a diverse support system and not putting all our eggs in one basket when it comes to happiness, we can reduce our dependence on romantic relationships to fulfill our basic emotional needs.
All that being said, it’s also helpful to keep in mind that even the best relationships have their ups and downs, and they’re seldom what we could call “perfect”. Expecting that relationships won’t have the occasional conflict or disagreement simply isn’t realistic. By acknowledging that and working to communicate and resolve issues effectively, we can build resilience in our relationships that can help them stand the test of time and contribute more to our overall happiness.
Overall, our romantic relationships can and should be a source of happiness in our lives, but it should by no means be the only source, like some people make them. By instead focusing on our own personal and professional development, creating multiple other avenues to experience happiness and joy, and being realistic in our expectations of other people in general and relationships in particular, we can make sure that our happiness doesn’t depend solely on our relationships and have the experience of joy and contentment that can stay with us despite the ups and downs of life.
Stephanie and her husband David are a professional coaching team who specialize in helping professional women with the guidance, support and tools to break the cycle of toxic relationships, end self-sabotage and become the best version of themselves, so they can create and attract the best that life and love have to offer. Their 10 week Brilliant Life Blueprint coaching program guarantees you’ll experience dramatic improvements in your life and relationships, or they’ll continue working one on one with you for free until you do: https://www.beinglovedshouldnthurt.com/brilliant-life-blueprint