Why It's Crucial To Have A Variety Of Relationships
by Emma McGowan
Smiling friends enjoying dinner on night market in Thailand.
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You’ve heard of the idea of “The One.” The one who completes you. The one who fulfills your every need. The perfectly matched soulmate who you should seek until you find — and then never let you go. Your best friend, co-parent, lover — your everything. Well, that model? That supposed ideal? It’s toxic. “The healthiest relationships are those in which both partners have full and satisfying lives, or at the very least, have interests and friendships outside of the couple relationship,” Allison Abrams, LCSW-R, tells Bustle. “To expect one person to fulfill all of your needs is not only impossible, it's not fair — to either partner.”

In other words, no matter how great your partner is, there’s no way they’ll be able to meet all of your needs. And, if you’re really honest with yourself, would you actually want them to? Don’t you like having friends you can talk about sex with or go shopping with or cry to? Doesn’t it feel better to have a community of support, rather than relying on one, fallible human? “We all have many different needs and no one person will be able to fulfill all of them,” Abrams says. “If you expect this from your partner, at some point, feelings of resentment are bound to arise when those needs, inevitably, aren't met.”

So what are some of the advantages of having a lot of different relationships in your life — from family to friends to coworkers you like to a get a beer with — instead of only focusing on your romantic relationship? Take a look at what experts have to say below.


You’ll Appreciate Your Partner More

“Spending time with potential alternative mates who do not meet the same standard as the current partner can stabilize the romantic relationship, leading to greater appreciation of the romantic partner and what they have to offer and a greater valuation of the time they do spend together,” Dr. Grant Brenner, MD, co-author of Irrelationship: How We Use Dysfunctional Relationships to Hide From Intimacy, tells Bustle. "Scarcity leads to greater enjoyment — absence makes the heart grow fonder.”


Having Only Your Partner Is Damaging

“It is always good to have a variety of relationships,” Jason B. Whiting, PhD, LMFT tells Bustle. “One of the main reasons is that if a person expects their partner to fulfill all of their needs, they will be disappointed, which can turn into resentment, and that can cause damage.”


It Puts Less Demand On Your Romantic Relationship

“Having outside relationships can give each partner downtime from the relationship,” Dr. Brenner says. “Because relationships can be a source of stress, and this stress can sometimes get to be too much, spending time with others can a good way to manage the stress, providing opportunities for enjoyment and distraction, and some venting if there are issues, and a sounding board to help problem-solve, if appropriate.”


You'll Have Fewer Feelings Of Dependency

“For some people who have difficulty with dependency, and either get too enmeshed (co-dependent) or tend to be too self-reliant (counter-dependent), outside relationships can help reduce anxiety about being too needy,” Dr. Brenner says. “It can also help hold the romantic relationship together by lowering fears of being a burden, relying on the other person too much, expecting rejection and abandonment, and related concerns.”


Less Pressure To Be “Everything” For Your Partner

“If either partner has to ‘be everything’ for the other person, this can lead to excessive feelings of demand, pressure failure and stress, and cause problems in relationships which can't support that kind of intense involvement,” Dr. Brenner says. “Some relations can and do function that way, though.”


An Increased Feeling Of Independence & Self Esteem

“For a lot of couples, if they spend too much time together, it can feel suffocating and lead to stagnation, especially in the long run,” Dr. Brenner says. “People usually need to have multiple sources of self-esteem, and having friendships, family and professional relationships — rather than just one's romantic relationship — is important for most people.”


You’ll Bring More To The Relationship

“Spending time apart and talking with other people can help people to come up with ideas for new things to do when they are together, and a greater desire to seek new experiences together,” Dr. Brenner says. “This is good for relationships, especially longer-term.”

So the next time you find yourself pining for "The One," remember: You don't need one. You need lots of ones for the best results.