You Complete Me – What Does That Really Mean?

“You complete me”. The famous statement made by Tom Cruise to Renee Zellweger in the movie Jerry Maguire has “messed women up!” according to Oprah.

I agree.

From my own personal experience and all the reading I have done on abuse as well as discussions and information I’ve been told I believe that statement is actually abusive, and this is why.

“You complete me” is not romantic, it’s controlling. How? Well, now that person has made you responsible for their feelings and their well-being. It’s a form of manipulation.

I remember my ex saying to me that he didn’t like me talking to a business associate of his, someone he had introduced me to and whom he thought would help me in my career.

“I know what you are doing and I’m going to be watching you.”

Watching me do what? I was doing nothing wrong but all of a sudden I started to question myself and his feelings became more important than my own. I wanted to make sure he felt safe, secure and loved in our relationship so I limited any other relationships that might cause him to feel otherwise. Well, there’s really no end to that…soon it wasn’t just business associates and co-workers, it was friends, family and students. Yes, even students. I remember one night I had dinner planned with one of my teenage students who was really struggling.

My ex and I got in a huge fight over that dinner because he did not want me to go. He said I couldn’t save her and he needed me and if I went then I was telling him that she was more important than he was blah blah blah. May I point out, he’s an adult and she is a child. I still went because that was clearly the right thing to do, but I paid dearly for it. He made my life miserable for months to come and still brought it up, right to the day we parted ways. Yes, no one in my life was safe from his insecurities and therefore, I became isolated.

Don’t get me wrong, I take total responsibility for my actions. I allowed that manipulation to invade my life and erode my spirit. I allowed his voice to be louder than mine. I believed and lived the statement “you complete me”. I was like so many other women who thought there was an element of love and romance in that. Somehow confusing control and abuse with love and care. Now, on the other side of it, I see clearly it was a way to control and manipulate. It wasn’t about love at all.

“You complete me” meant that I had to now live my life filling him up, nurturing his needs and abandoning any self care of my own. There was no time; he was a full time job.

“You complete me.”

Really? Well you deplete me.

It’s true, having to constantly worry about whether he was feeling secure in the relationship (there was never an end to that because his insecurities ran so deep), whether I was doing something ‘wrong’ in his eyes, always guessing his moods, continually having to adapt to his new set of rules…it depleted me all right. I was exhausted, chronically depressed and emotionally drained. His support was control in disguise and his actions never matched his words. He lied regularly but still I filled his cup instead of my own.

Finally after years of this, years of trying to break free but always being too weak within myself to emotionally tear myself away, I finally built the strength to say…

“You complete me? Huh, that’s too bad, because I delete you.”

Are you sure you want to permanently delete this man? YES. And just like your folders on your computer, you now have a lot more space to fill with good stuff, positive stuff, nurturing stuff for yourself. You are free to fill your cup and so now

“I complete me”

That’s a much better line, don’t you think?

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