My high school sweetheart and I used to call each other our “everything.” We thought this was adorably “real love,” because we were young and dumb. And mostly because we didn’t understand love.
It’s a common proclamation, our partner being our “everything” (or us being theirs.) There are songs about it, blogs and forum posts about it, wedding vows and anniversary cards celebrating it, shit engraved and printed with it, and countless Pinterest pins and tumblr posts proclaiming it…
It’s the way we describe our partner early on, or just before we’ve channeled that energy into shit like marrying them, or for years afterwards, if we never develop healthy perspectives.
And it’s the sort of thing we uphold as “perfect love.” But it is anything but love, let alone “perfect.”
Making your partner your “everything” is unhealthy
Because a healthy relationship requires two healthy people, and healthy people are self-sustained and fully-actualized on their own.
Contrary to the equally unhealthy concepts of a partner being your “better half” or “completing” you, a healthy relationship is based on two people who are whole on their own.
Meaning: they already have “everything” they need.
“You have to be the center of your world, as a healthy, independent, fully realized person. No other human can or should complete you.”
“Your partner enhances your life but isn’t your everything.”
Making your partner your “everything” is infatuation
Or obsession. But it’s not love.
“It’s just the moment of infatuation that makes it seem like they’re your everything”
“You’re describing infatuation, bordering on obsession. You might also love her, but your self worth seems entirely too dependent on her.”
Making your partner your “everything” is codependent
Codependence — the compulsion to invest too much in others or excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity — can look and feel a lot like what we’re told is love.
But it isn’t.
Or: one or both parties uphold their loved one as “everything.”
From “Confessions of a Codependent:”
You will “no longer know who you are or what your dreams used to be [if] you have allowed yourself to make your partner everything to you.”
Because when you make someone else “everything,” you are saying that everything else — yourself included — is nothing.
By contrast, a healthy, interdependent relationship is “value-add.” From this article on Psychology Today, in a healthy relationship:
“Each party remains self-sufficient and self-determining. They maintain a clear identity apart from the relationship and are quite able to stand on their own two feet.”
They don’t lose everything without the other person.
Making your partner your “everything” is toxic
Love: Prioritizes development of self first
Toxic love: Obsession with relationship / prioritization of partner
Love: Separate interests; other meaningful relationships
Toxic love: Total involvement
Love: Loving detachment
Toxic love: Obsessive fusion (partner is “everything”)
Love creates a “cycle of comfort and contentment.”
Toxic love creates a “cycle of pain and despair.”
If you make *anything* “everything,” make it what you give
You want to talk in terms of “everything,” make “everything” the amount of love you share with them.
“Everything” should not be the object of your affection, on a pedestal or someone to orbit, but the love that you extend toward them, i.e.,
“I choose to love this person with everything that I have right now.”
“Everything” can be what you’re willing to give. But “everything” cannot be what they are in your life.