What It Means to Have Someone Make You a Better Person

Although I’m single, while I was home for the holidays, I learned the importance of finding someone who makes you a better person.

I’ve always associated that idea–someone making me want to be a better person–with romantic relationships, although I’ve never quite understood why I would possibly need someone to fill that role. Sure, it’s a nice perk if the person you’re dating inspires you to start recycling or to text less while driving, but shouldn’t we figure that stuff out on our own?

So although I’ve heard people talk about that element of their relationships, and I’ve definitely told girlfriends, “You make me want to be a better man,” I don’t think I fully realized the impact that a significant other can have on how good (or bad) of a person I am until I was back home with my family for Christmas for a week.

493Here’s the truth: I had a pretty uneven week when I was home with my family. I had moments where I felt like a “good” son, brother, or uncle…in fact, I think I was fine in the brother and uncle categories.

But as a son, I was pretty crabby. I don’t really know what the deal was…I think part of it was that it was my second week working full-time on Stonemaier, and I was used to spending ALL of my waking hours on Stonemaier. It was hard to tear myself away from that.

But even beyond that, I was just kind of on edge all the time. You know how you can be in a bad mood, and you’ll still treat strangers kindly, but the people you care about the most (your parents, friends, etc) get to see your bad side in full force? Well, that’s kind of what happened.

Meanwhile, my brother was also at home with his girlfriend, and he was a joy to be around. Not that he usually isn’t, but there was an extra spring to his step, and there was never an edge to his voice, even when other people (me included) were being super annoying.

So that’s when I had my epiphany about a significant other making you a better person: Whenever I’ve been at home with a significant other, I’m on my best behavior. At first I might be aware of it, but as the visit continues, it just becomes second nature to be a decent human being instead of reverting back to a teenager.

The presence of a significant other makes you a better person.

It’s as simple as that. It’s a matter of presence with a little dose of trying not to suck in front of someone you want to impress.

This is great, because it means we don’t our significant others on pedestals. We don’t have to make them out to be some divine inspiration, a pinnacle of achievement that pushes us day by day to be amazing people.

Rather, you can just look at your significant other as a regular person, and having that person in your life will almost force you to be a better person around everyone else until it becomes second nature and you actually become a better person.

The bad news for me is that I’m not dating anyone, and I haven’t dated anyone in a while. I haven’t really had the interest or the time. But this realization made me worry a little bit–what if I’m slowly becoming a terrible person simply because I don’t have a girl to impress?

Just writing that makes me think it’s not a good reason to start dating again, but there are certainly worse reasons out there. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “What It Means to Have Someone Make You a Better Person”

  1. Jamey, this gave me pause for thought. When I read the title of this post, my immediate reaction was dismissive, like you were endorsing some kind of co-dependency. I too am a subscriber to the power of self. I should want to be a better person for me, and that should be a benefit to someone I choose to date.

    I’m not going to argue about the importance of relationships. We’re social animals, intimacy (both non-sexual and sexual) are important to making us happy, but again, those are always secondary to me taking care of myself.

    What really hit me here was one line.

    “It’s a matter of presence with a little dose of trying not to suck in front of someone you want to impress.”

    And you’re absolutely right. It’s not being dishonest, it’s being on your best behavior…which you should be anyway…but any little things that can help you keep that on all the time are valuable. And like you said, you just do this for a while and you become that better person.

    I appreciate you writing this Jamey, and I may cite it in an upcoming Healthy Gamer post when I get back to talking about relationships.

    • Joe, I’m like you–I really don’t like the idea of co-dependence. I think that’s why I’ve struggled with this idea for so long, so it was nice to get some clarity about it.


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