Finding love doesn’t necessarily mean always finding your other half 

When Valentine’s Day rolls around each year, both excitement and cynicism are in the February air. This holiday seems to create undue stress each year, whether you have concrete plans, hope to make some, or just “completely forgot it was February 14th already.” The old-school tradition that still dictates the need to find romance or love today is evident in our stronghold on the traditions that surround Valentine’s Day. Modern dating’s casual nature isn’t a bad thing—it can be stressful, but that’s another article, for another day—however the mix  of this casualness with ideologies of the past can create confusion about what we’re supposed to want out of a relationship.

The concept of “opposites attract,” is still prominent in today’s dating world, but the phrase can lead to relationships based solely on an attempt to complement our partner’s differences.

Regardless of the fact that dating still holds on to many traditions, the formulaic approach to finding life-long love at a young age has weakened over time. There’s more opportunity to spend time working on a career or school. Working on professional development has beat tying down the personal for a while now, but living a full life means ticking off every box possible, because why <i>not<i>? There’s so much time to get The Career and The Significant Other. Underpinning these anxieties about this to-do list is the pressure to find someone that will complete the aspects of life you don’t yourself.

While we may not want to date an exact replica of ourselves, the idea that a partner’s interests or personality need to be the opposite of our own can be misleading. These sentiments get distorted into the idea that we need to balance aspects of our lives and identities completely, and that we are unable to do this ourselves—whether it be through our tangible hobbies and occupations, or even in terms of our own personalities. The pressure to balance it all out is very real, but there is nothing wrong with you and your partner having similarities in how you operate or where you are in life. The onus to satiate what is missing, or to be the balancing factor in a person’s life needs to be removed from the partner—relying solely on differences is harmful to individuals in a relationship with one another.

Dropping old dating habits has been good for Millennials, as it has allowed for things like an emphasis on the importance of the professional over the personal. So, why do we cling to old rhetoric? There’s definitely an appeal about those that have interests different than ours, and these differences do help us gain perspective. However, leaning completely on a person for emotional perspective can lead to relationships based on a quid pro quo dynamic. There is a reason we cannot be everything all at once; someone may complete you, but it’s always best to think of yourself as whole already.