Complete vs. Complement

“I don’t think you can really, truly be the partner you want to be until you know on an absolute level that you are a complete person on your own.” ~ Sophia Bush


“You complete me.”

“My life was complete when I met you.”

Even now I cringe when I hear those phrases.  Words intended to be complimentary, loving, open, but . . they can also convey dependence, pressure, and responsibility.

Every one of us . . .whether we feel it or not . . . is a complete person.  We may experience loneliness, feelings of being different, aimlessness, even hopelessness.  Those are feelings.  All people, at some point, experience those feelings.  It doesn’t mean we are incomplete, it means we are human.

Along comes someone who complements our life, our lifestyle, our beliefs, our view of ourselves . . . and it is mistakenly referred to as completeness.

When one person in the relationship does not realize the difference between the two, it can place undue pressure on the other.  It becomes a dependent relationship.

“You complete me” can actually mean “I depend on you to make me feel complete”

I don’t want that responsibility.  I will fail.  I am human.  I will make mistakes, say the wrong thing, hurt people’s feelings and be inconsiderate (altho not consciously).  And in those moments, that “feeling” of completeness may start to erode.

What is referred to as completeness, is actually a sense of complement.  A relationship which is comfortable.  Shared understanding.  An ability to play off each others strengths and weaknesses.

I am a blunt person.  I have Aspergers and as such have a tendency to be painstakingly honest.  I don’t do it to be hurtful.  I hate hurting anyone’s feelings.  I value truth and transparency which makes it very difficult to lie.  I can be tactful, but I will be honest.  I am not lacking emotion; I tend to let logical thought rule my actions.

I am a complete person – take it or leave it.  The people that I allow close to me complement me as a person.  If I choose to have someone in my life it is because I want them there, not because I need them there.  People come and go.  I will not die without having any particular someone in my life but life is much nicer and more enjoyable with those who are involved in my life.

“We complement each other.”

“My life is much more enjoyable with you in it.”

Complement.  Not complete.

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