The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Sabotaging a relationship


A friend once told me about a classmate who came to SMU lookingfor a husband. But since she is graduating soon, she might as wellget her accredited degree. She said coming to SMU helped her buildself-confidence and a desire to succeed.

The same friend introduced me to a book by Drs. Les and LeslieParrott called Relationships: How to Make Bad RelationshipsBetter and Good Relationships Great. The couple co-directs theCenter for Relationship Development at Seattle PacificUniversity.

I haven’t read it all, but I glanced through a couple ofpages from the section entitled “The Compulsion forCompletion.”

In this section, Parrott quotes sociologist George Herbert Mead,”The self can only exist in relationship to otherselves.”

This confirms British minister Dr. John Stott’s idea inhis book Why I am A Christian: the self seeks threeessentials of the soul, one of which is community. The others aresignificance and transcendence.

Humans seek wholeness, and other people help define existence.But Parrott writes that two lies sabotage our relationships: the”I need this person to be complete” and the “ifthis person needs me, I’ll be complete” trains ofthought.

The first is pretty self-explanatory. A person seeks approval,attention and ultimately identity in another. The first personinevitably sets him or herself up for a hard and disappointing falland blames the other for failure.

Parrott tells the story of a young woman who moved across thecountry to meet a man that she strongly felt was the one for her.However, he did not share her enthusiasm and passion and actuallystarted seeing someone else. The woman returned home, disappointedand depressed, feeling that her whole life was shattered because hedid not give her the love she desperately wanted to give him.

The second case doesn’t seem as desperate as the first.This second type of person lacks confidence and wants someone,anyone, to build up his or her weak ego. For these people, “aperson is just another project, an accomplishment to put on theirrelationship resume.”

These people don’t see others for their own intrinsicvalue; they see them as a means to some self-glorifying end.It’s not what they can add to the relationship, but insteadwhat their significant other can add to them as an individual.It’s selfish and unfair.

Plus, he or she will have to learn eventually (sometimes thehard way) that the other person’s need for companionship willnever complete his or her own need for wholeness.

I can only imagine how tough it is to live as a fraction of ahuman being. Luckily, Parrott offers four suggestions to become”whole.”

First, “heal your hurts.” Even people like me, whohave never been in a serious relationship before, have a lifetimeof scars on our hearts.

Relationships don’t only mean romantic ones. Some of ushave parents, siblings and best friends with whom we need to setthings right. These people tend to be very helpful on this road ofself-exploration.

Second, “take off your mask.” Last semester,columnist Ruben Navarette from The Dallas Morning Newslectured in one of my reporting classes. He said writers have twopersons: a public and a private one. The public side is the onethat people read or hear and love or hate. The private side is theone that readers will never know.

But I’ve learned that my personal life is the foundationfor a lot of my public work. Besides, I was taught that having twoor more faces not only lacks integrity, but it’s alsodifficult to keep up with.

Third, “sit in the driver’s seat.” Parrottwrites that self-worth is earned and comes from hard work andsacrifice. He quotes George Bernard Shaw, “Hell is to drift,heaven is to steer.” Our relationships are healthy when wehave a clear sense of identity, purpose, courage and commitmentsoutside of our partners or ourselves. Then, our quality of life isshared by others, not based on them.

Finally, “rely on God.” As I noted before,it’s difficult for me to separate my personal views from mypublic work. After all, this is an opinion column.

Stott wrote that he is a Christian because Jesus fulfills thethree essentials. He is significant because God defines hispurpose. He transcends because Jesus’ blood sets him free tostrive towards the eternal life and treasures of heaven that arepromised in the Bible. And he thrives in the community of hisfellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Together, they make up thesupporting and sustaining body of Christ with Jesus at thehead.

I’m glad for that young woman who found her confidencehere. When she graduates, she will leave with something trulyprecious (not that a husband is such a bad thing).

I end with a memorable quotation from my friend who studiesdentistry at Texas Women’s University in Denton:”I’m going to get the bachelor’s degree, not thebachelor.”


Christine Dao is a columnist for The Daily Campus. She may bereached at [email protected].

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