Slaying Dreams №2 — “Must be Partnered”

It’s actually very hard to rebel against the predominant narrative of our time

Jen Hill
7 min readFeb 19, 2024
Photo by Raxit Gamit on Unsplash

There wasn’t much to do on a wintery Sunday evening back in the early 80s. My family gathered together on the ‘popcorn blanket’ to watch The Wonderful World of Disney on one of our three cable channels. When Disney reinvented its animation process with The Little Mermaid, we, along with a whole planet full of impressionable girls and young women, were fed an entire series of modernised fairy tales. Ariel, Jasmine, Belle, Pocahontas — we watched and waited for them to make their perfect match and live happily ever after.

Enter the 90s and the 00s, the reign of the rom-com, and I was subjected to another unrealistic swarm of improbable romances. Why did these movies perform as well as they did? To me, it was because they sold the ideal — happily ever after remains contingent upon being happily partnered. Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan and many more — there was no end to the storylines and intrigues, yet the conclusion was always foregone — girl + boy = happily ever after.

I was also raised a member of the Mormon faith (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). I was taught from birth that my ultimate purpose in life was to find a righteous young man, get married in the temple, and raise a family. It was the only recipe for entrance to the Celestial Kingdom (the ultimate heaven, and the aspiration of all Mormons). President Spencer W Kimball said, “Honorable, happy, and successful marriage is surely the principal goal of every normal person.” (BYU Speeches, Sept 7, 1976 — the era I grew up in, which is why I reference it.)

Time to admit I had an unusual challenge. I am a lesbian.

It is not only religion and Hollywood that preaches that our greatest level of happiness can only be achieved through marriage and/or partnership. It’s a core feature of capitalism as well. Our entire western society is based on the family as a core unit, where parents raise children, send them to be educated in public school, those children grow up, get further schooling (and lots of debt, if you’re from North America), and enter the workforce, aiming for the house, the car, the well-paying job, the yearly vacation, all while paying taxes, buying goods (including alcohol, cigarettes and other substances that can soothe the experience of reality), reducing debt, and contributing to the economy.

These are the ‘dreams’ we are served as part of our social upbringing. University education. A well-paying job (it may be too much to hope that it fulfills your personal genius, just make sure you can afford a good life). Partnership and/or marriage. Raising a family. Single people below thirty are ardently questioned by their parents and grandparents; are you seeing someone? When are you getting married? When are you going to have kids? Heaven help you if you are lesbian, like me, or trans, like my cousin, or neurodivergent, on the spectrum, or anything not considered Spencer W Kimball’s ‘normal’.

There is hope on the horizon. More and more people are questioning these narratives, these ‘dreams’ that we inherited from our parents, our religions, our societies. As I left the Mormon church and began living life on my own terms, throwing out dream after dream that no longer served me, I still found this lingering yearning to be happily partnered, now to a emotionally stable and fellow spiritually minded woman.

It was the second of the big dreams of my life that I had to slay.

Those who are on a spiritual path of self-discovery will eventually come across the notion that we must release things that no longer serve us. These can be behaviours, ideas, beliefs, and tendencies as much as material objects.

Image by Melissa G from Pixabay

The Eight of Cups in the tarot is an excellent reminder of this: it shows a figure walking away from eight upright and stacked cups, moving from the known into the unknown, heeding the call of the heart as a true pilgrim does. What’s remarkable is that the cups are stacked and perfect, not disarrayed and overturned (such as in the Five of Cups). This is a deliberate act of self-realization; purposefully walking away and releasing these perfect cups, to find what will serve our innermost heart and highest self.

It’s never easy to walk away from the familiar, the ‘good-enough’. And sometimes we stay there for a while, gaining strength (or getting complacent) before going on.

Yet this is the quest of the seeker, this intensely personal and profound inner work, shadow work, and healing, in which we uncover these beliefs, attitudes, and narratives and ask ourselves, does it serve me? Does it support my growth and evolution?

I had to ask that question when my last relationship was slowly and painfully dying. I had been so eager to be partnered again, to show my family and the world that I could do it, I could find someone, I could adapt to the give and take of an intimate relationship. I put on a brave face when I was quite desperately unhappy, committed to the relationship for the sake of commitment itself — I was so tired of being alone and dating, and I wanted (still want, tbh) the comfort and familiarity of a person who loved me, who would stand by me and support me in the ups and downs of life.

We broke up in July 2023. I moved back to Prague to pick up the pieces of my ‘before’ life. And I was forced to confront this narrative like never before.

I. Must. Be. Partnered.

In order to live happily ever after, I must be partnered. In order to be seen as a normal, whole, functioning adult, I must be partnered. In order to simply afford life and its expenses, I must be partnered. If I want to fulfill the other grand dreams of my life, I must be partnered.

On the flip side?

I can’t be fully happy unless I’m partnered. I’m seen as flawed, something must be wrong with me if I’m not partnered (surely I would have found someone by now if I were ‘normal’). I will always struggle to make ends meet until I’m partnered. I won’t achieve my personal greatness unless I’m partnered.

Ouch, right?

When the moment came to slay this dream, this very old dream that I had been given yet I nonetheless accepted as my own, it was easy. I was ready. I had practice slaying dreams (dream number one had died a few years prior).

I took ‘must’ out of the equation.

Whew. That was easy.

Well, yes and no.

So, I had given myself permission to live my beautiful, glorious, wild life alone and on my terms. All the energy that had been dedicated to grasping onto this dream was liberated, free for me to use for truer and more authentic engagement with my heart and higher self.

I do not NEED to be partnered. It will not complete me. I am already whole, I do not need to be, or have, a ‘better half’. The freedom is daunting at times; I am intensely responsible for myself and my own happiness (as are people still in committed relationships, it’s just easier to play the blame game or become victimised or to delay personal growth due to the rigours of compromise in daily modern life).

I want a life partner. Yes, I do. Must I be partnered? No.

It’s a very slight difference, but a crucial one.

It’s okay to want to be partnered. It’s still something that I’m patiently waiting for. It’s still a dream of mine, and I hope the Universe grants it to me some day. But I’m not going to sit around and wait; there’s too much for me to be.

The question to ask yourself if you are single (or if you are unhappily partnered) is: do you NEED it? Does your self-worth DEPEND on it? MUST you be partnered? Does your eternal happiness and salvation RELY on it? (By the way, Mormons and other religious folks, I believe the answer is NO.)

Slay the dream.

Release the narrative.

Embrace the latent power that emerges as a result.

Get comfortable with your heart, your soul, your dreams — the dreams you choose, not the ones chosen for you.

The most curious thing happens when you make space by releasing what is old, what no longer serves you. It’s like allowing an old dead tree to fall and decay.

Plant something in that fertile, sacred space. Water it with the sincerity of your heartfelt intention. Watch it grow. Give it space and time. Not human time. Tree time. Mountain time. “Balance your desire for an outcome with the natural cycle that nourishes it.” (I Ching 5 — Cafe au Soul)

The Universe has been committed to your success since before you were born. True success lies in authenticity, in loyalty to your innermost truth. Believe in the power of dreams that you choose for yourself.

Enjoy the journey, dream-slayer.

Or shall I say, true dream nurturer?

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Jen Hill

Just a girl in Prague, writing about love, teaching, and spirituality. I enjoy shamanism, writing novels, and drinking craft beer.