The term “significant other” has come to be a blanket term for romantic relationships. It can mean a relationship at any stage—spouse, fiance, long-time girlfriend or boyfriend, even those who have yet to put a name on their romantic interactions.
In any case, “significant other” has become part of the cultural lingo, and when it’s spoken, we all understand that we’re talking about someone that’s more than just a friend; someone who carries a significant place of value and priority in our life. It’s a term that implies love, romance and physical attraction. It’s a term that reminds us that we hold someone just as significantly as they hold us.
And sure, romantic relationships are and should be significant, but I wonder if our simple acceptance of this term actually implies something inherently wrong with our culture. One thing I’ve noticed in the society of the West is that we are a culture who bases our value and worth within the status of our romantic relationships. We are told that we are most valuable when we’ve found someone to show or tell us that we are. We live in a culture that caters to this mentality. It’s plastered on our television screens, our billboards and our magazines. It’s blatant in our movies, our music and our literature.
What if with our blind acceptance of the terminology “significant other,” we’ve also accepted the lie that the most significant relationships in our lives are the ones that include physical attraction, sexual chemistry and romantic experiences? What if we’ve started to believe that we’re most significant when we finally find someone who will tell us so? We can spend our lives in pursuit of this “one” relationship, neglecting the reality that significance can be found in so many other places.
As much beauty as I see within the context of a romantic relationship, and as much as I’ve been overwhelmingly blessed within the committed relationship of my marriage, there is a deep part of me that revolts against the mentality that our most significant relationships can only take shape within the framework of a romantic relationship.
As meaningful as my marriage is, and as much as I am in love with my husband, it’s not—it cannot—be the only relationship that holds significance in my life. Each and every stage of my life has ushered me into significant relationships, which God has used to shape me, to guide me and to make me into the person I am today. From my respect and love of my parents for how they’ve shaped me, to my deep adoration of my children and how they challenge me; from my valuable interactions with my best friends who support me, to the way that my mentors pour their lives into mine—there have been so many relationships in my life that have been of complete and utter significance.
Whether we’re single, dating, married, widowed or whatever else, each of our relationships is ordained by God for a specific time, a specific place and for a very specific purpose. Each bringing us one step closer to our destiny, our calling and the person God invites us to become.
But how many times have we got lost in the pursuit of a significant other that we’ve failed to realize the significance that’s all around us? How many times in our myopic vision have we failed to see the bigger picture? How many times have we been so focused on finding a person who will “prove” our significance that we forget the One who has already given us eternal significance?
It’s time to redefine our view of significant others. It’s time to say no to this inherent lie by realizing we don’t need a “significant other” in order to have significant relationships in our lives.
It’s time to recognize and then to invest in the people God has surrounded us with. People who will encourage us, build us up and call us out when we need to be corrected. People He will use to shape us, to challenge us and to pour their lives into ours.
My prayer for you today is that your natural longing for a significant other will lead you to recognize that above and beyond this one relationship, you are surrounded by significant relationships. The most important of which is the one you have with the Creator of relationships Himself! There are a multitude of important earthly relationships beside just those that involve romance. Family, those you mentor and who mentor you, coworkers—people who have been placed in your life by a God who knows exactly what you need.
May you find these relationships even in the most unexpected of places—and may you find joy as you move more and more into God’s greater picture.
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, speaker and author of several books, including True Love Dates. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.