Historically a holiday for Christian martyrdom, Valentine’s Day has exploded into a worldwide celebration of romantic love. On February 14, the world will be overflowing with flowers, greeting cards, and delicious dinners in warmly lit restaurants. With such fanfare, it’s no surprise that it’s become so easy to mistake all that romance for intimacy.
Romance and intimacy aren’t quite the same thing. Romantic love sings out that “You complete me” and “I can’t live without you,” presuming that we are fundamentally unfinished without another person. This is reinforced by movies like Cinderella, Jerry Maguire, and Twilight, stories in which “finding the one” heals all wounds, relieves all loneliness, disempowers lurking witches, and of course leads to “happily ever after.” While it makes for good fiction, this romantic narrative perpetuates the idea that we are each an unfinished puzzle piece, forever waiting for the mate who can finally make us whole.
However, becoming a jigsaw piece to someone else’s puzzle is precarious. What happens if one of the pieces needs to change?