Do we seek partners or foster relationships thinking someone else may make us happy?
Can someone else ever fill our voids, or the emptiness we sometimes feel? Maybe
the hope is that another will change our natural happiness baseline, with minimal
effort on our part, because when we’re having fun, the moment doesn’t feel like
a chore. I ask this question, because I have done this many times over.
Do other people make us happy? To what extent do we depend on others to compensate
for our emotional shortcomings? It’s tricky, because the line between support and
dependence is not always clear. Many of us can recall an instance when we’re feeling
low, and then spend time with certain people, or change our immediate surroundings,
and return feeling better. But is there a difference between someone contributing
to our happiness and generating it on demand? This question is also prickly because
one doesn’t feel in a vacuum. Every feeling is attached to a thought. While in theory,
or in a doctor’s chair, we may be able to break down our thoughts underlying feeling,
but in actuality, how good at this are we? Feelings are permanent, in that they’re
there, annexed to our thoughts – and often, our palette from which we paint our
world. This beauty and confusion, the changing color in our backdrop, is on the
one hand, our own white noise, the hum of traffic in our cityscape, while on the
other transience. Each moment, an object may appear distinct. After all, what feeling
doesn’t have wind at its root? Which moment isn’t affected by the position of the
Complicating the conception of potential happiness or its comprise, is another question:
has the notion of love become synonymous with an item in an online catalogue? With
urgent immediacy we’d say no, but what does our behavior indicate? How do we initially
assess a partner? Do we consider whether figure, hair and face match up to what
we’d like to be seen with? Why has ‘what’ become interchangeable with ‘whom’? Why
are external features deemed criteria for our willingness to take someone seriously
(in terms of scheduling a following encounter)? In other words, if many of us convince
ourselves we want the good conversation, why do we find ourselves describing our
ideal match in terms hairlines, hair texture, stature, breast size, girth, university
degrees and money?
Soon after my mother died, I entered a relationship that ended as abruptly as it
had started, and I was crushed. Devastated. I acted like a nutcase and it took me
months to get over (talk about a negative return on investment). But in hindsight,
I see it was important. Dare I recall the cliché “no pain, no gain” and posit that
pain can also lead to good, in regards to development and other productive outcomes?
I think the kick/s-in-the-ass is life’s way of asking us to stop making the same
mistakes over again. The kick in the butt also acts as sufficient unpleasantness
and possible motivation to figure out what’s really wrong (if, like me you’re not
always in touch with how you really feel from the outset). I mean, how could I attribute
those searing spasms of pain, and continuing constrictions of the stomach and chest
to someone I’d known for two weeks? Pain is undervalued because it doesn’t feel
If we’re lucky, we understand that we don’t stay in the same place. We reach different
destinations completely, traveling from the gut. Traveling from a sense of awareness,
we have a real stake in our own happiness, coloring the moments with our own brush.
The magic is being able to do it, within the contexts we’re in (and subsequently,
those we create) surrounded by those we love. Infatuation can happen in a second;
love takes a lifetime to nurture. We feed it and burp it. We also get upset with
it, when the object of our love doesn’t behave as we wish. And we examine whether
the voices inside our head belong to us or to someone or something else. Sometimes
we are satisfied and sometimes we are not. It is one thing to lean on someone, know
they’ll be there, and from there derive feelings of comfort and support, even strength,
but it’s another thing to believe that they were set on this earth to provide for
Could happiness be a coming to terms with the fact that life’s events and circumstances
are not always as we wish them to be? An attitude adjustment may often change circumstances
but, when that is not possible, it can still change our experience of those circumstances.
What do relationships look like when we enter them thinking someone will always
be there to make us happy? What happens when he or she doesn’t? I read a saying
in a book called Zen Miracles by Brenda Shoshana (2002) that said, “You can never
see anything worse than yourself.” I identify with this because the critical eye
with which we view others, is really an indication of what we are capable of feeling
and comprehending. It loosely links our thoughts about others as projections of
ourselves onto them, and I find that concept fascinating. It’s almost like digging
through garbage – our own as well as of others’ around us. Sometimes, our most valuable
indicators of behavior are automatic checklists we create, against which we don’t
hesitate to discard, people or ideas, and most of all our own responsibility to
experience what we desire.
Is it possible to lead happy lives if we expect someone else to provide the happiness?
I think that’s akin to relinquishing control over the self, to someone or even something,
like a pill. Why be so reckless with the only element we actually do have some form
of control over? I think we have to separate feeling good from trying to recreate
and manipulate circumstances so that the desired feeling arises on demand.
I believe we can generate happiness, though perhaps not by buying the right product,
or even into one way of thinking, but possibly through understanding, trial and
error, and always believing that this too shall pass, in the same breath you know
the sun will rise tomorrow. The knowledge of being in a constant state of flux requires
My wish for each of us has within it the potential to be the kindest blessing and
agonizing curse: that you shall find what you seek. Isn’t it time we truly assess
what that is, alongside the price we’re willing to pay for it?
About Tobye Adar:
Tobye Adar is a resident of Tel Aviv and has made aliya to Israel from the United
States 15 years ago. She served in the Israeli Air Force, acquired an LL.B, MBA
and MA in Creative Writing. She is the founder and operator of TobyeAdar.com. She
is inspired by the clients she meets and developing opportunities for people to
meet and fall in love is for her a great source of contentment.
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