Why I'm Not Looking for My "Other Half"
Photo by Dave Parker
It’s been at least a dozen years since I was first introduced to Stephen Covey’s THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE but I had forgotten his theories on dependence to independence to interdependence until someone read them to me recently in context of our work environment. I was still teasing my colleague about why, if we’re all so effective, we’ve come up with only one additional habit in all this time when I suddenly saw Covey’s theories from the point of view of romantic relationships instead of career relationships.
I can’t explain this whole strange sense of where I am right now. I dated a good bit in March, ran screaming back to my cave in April, dated very pleasantly in May, retreated back to my cave in June to figure out my feelings on how deeply I wanted to get involved, dated A LOT in July but was cancelling dates by the end of the month because they all seemed so wounded and needy and I couldn’t get enthusiastic about any of them. In August, it was just too effing hot to date (no kidding!) and I was too busy making some major life decisions and dealing with family crises. Much of the autumn was an all talk and no action, with things just sorta rumbling along but with no one to entice my enthusiasm and with me being more excited about my creative projects than meeting anyone new–and that’s not been a bad thing at all. By December, men were coming out of the woodwork again.
I guess the last twelve months have been an interesting time of transition because I FEEL like I’m on the verge of a major relationship. Twelve months ago, I just wanted to take it easy and enjoy myself. No pressure, no rush, just having fun with no intentions of physical involvement unless I felt a really strong connection. Somewhere in there, I started rounding up to the number of years since my divorce, when asked, and found that apparently when you reach three years, you expire as a good potential mate–in other words, if you’ve been “on the market” (whether or not you think in those terms) for three years, then there must be something wrong with you, and if you’ve been actively dating a variety of men for more than a few months and haven’t settled into a relationship, then there must be something wrong with you. Funny, but I never even thought in those terms…though other people certainly do and don’t mind voicing their judgment. I always want to demand to see the guidebook they’re reading from. And yet this feeling of excitement is here NOW, even if the man isn’t. It’s like things are lining up but at the same time, I have so much else to do and I’m having fun with it by myself or with my kids or with a couple of friends. It’s a very free-floaty feeling and a sense of life being really, really good on all levels. And at the same time, a sense of having to merge my household again at some point, though happily. When I think of how much has gone into separating my household and life from another person, the idea of merging physical space feels different…and it IS different to even consider it. I found myself stepping out of the shower this week and in my head hearing a man tease me about one of my nice towels that had shrunk to the size of a hand towel and me tease back that at least mine weren’t like his ratty ones and the whole image of merging TOWELS seemed to loom all around me for a minute. I don’t think this way. I haven’t, at least, in years. So it’s terribly different that it’s all around me now when my past thoughts of partnering up were so much more on the surface than something I could actually accept as turning from vapor to flesh and blood.Covey’s ideas of dependence/independence/interdependence suddenly seemed so clear. There was the dependence that came from a long-term marriage that had many, many concessions on my part so that we could stay married but with the divorce, I moved into more independence. Not really independence, though. Because of where I was emotionally at the end of my marriage, I replaced one type of dependence with another, relying too much of the opinions and advice of others who seemed to have it together, even if most didn’t.
So divorce itself wasn’t a move into a state of independence. It was the first step of many to get to the point of being independent. It’s a state I’m now in completely and feel really good about. The past three years and more have been about becoming independent, able to make it on my own and be alone without being lonely and being good with being who I want to be while working out all the kinks of the past. It’s been a transition to independence.
That’s the same as “working on yourself” that I see so few people do when they move from one marriage right into the next without working through what went wrong or who they are or how they became who they are. But once you’ve worked on yourself and worked through all the biggies, then it seems time to transition into…interdependence.
Interdependence, to me, is when two people can be independent but intertwine their independence. It’s not the same as two dependent, needy people coming together and clinging to each other. It’s the process of getting through the healing and truly being whole again so that you’re not looking for your “other half” but for your “other sphere.”
And I think that’s rare as hell, but I kinda like things that are rare.