There are many ways you can structure and define a relationship, the idea I apply to my life is “1+1=3″ not in the way of making a baby, but in the way that two individual people come together and create a separate entity, which is the relationship.
I’ve found some images/badly created one in order to illustrate this concept.
In model 1 each person is represented by a circle, and they meet to create a relationship. Here we see that each person has more than enough room for their individuality, while still meeting in the middle where the relationship can thrive.
In model 2 each person is also represented by a circle, but they meet so far in that most of themselves disappear. This can occur when two people become consumed by each other, and focus almost solely on the relationship and not themselves. This does grow the relationship, but in the process reduce each individual.
A third model could illustrate how a model 1 relationship can grow without reducing anyone. It is quite simply an enlarged version of model 1, because here each individual has grown individually and together, and thereby grown the relationship without it claiming more space.
I believe that 1+1=1 type relationship stems from the notion of “the one” and that we need someone to complete us. From childhood stories to popular media these ideas are portrayed, and while romantic and cute it also encourages to reduce oneself.
I often hear couples refer to their partners as their better half, and while this also sounds cute it comes with an underlying thought that they themselves are “the bad half”, or that they are not good enough and need the other person to complete them. However, two half circles only make one whole, so something has got to give, that either means reducing their sense of self or the relationship.
We should encourage our children to be complete all on their own, instead of sending them out into the world hopelessly searching for someone to complete them. I encourage all to stop reducing themselves in the name of love and start completing themselves in the name of (self) love.