Half or Full?

Ever hear people refer to their husbands or wives or boyfriends or girlfriends as “my other half“? What about “my better half“? And how about people who say that the person they are in a relationship with “completes them“?

I personally have an issue with all these phrases. Whether used by a man or a woman. I cringe every time I find it used.

To me, referring to someone as your ‘better half’ implies your own ‘half’ is not good enough and this person that you are in a relationship with is better…and is what makes you better. Referring to someone as your ‘other half’ implies that you were not ‘full’ until you found this person. Similarly, when people say that the other person ‘completes them’ implies that they were incomplete until they met this person.

Why do we use these phrases? Phrases that put us down?

Seriously, are you that bad that your husband is your better half? Are you that incomplete as a person that you needed your girlfriend to make you whole again? (I know Tom Cruise said “you complete me” in Jerry Maguire…and supposedly that makes girls swoon…NOT) Where do we get these phrases from? (I tried doing a google search for the origins but nothing worthwhile popped up…I guess it’s too broad a term) Do we even realise just how self-deprecating these phrases are? It makes me wonder, what if this relationship breaks up…do you break too? I mean, after all, your ‘better half’ is no longer there…does that mean you are no longer worth anything?

I prefer using the term ‘partner‘ to refer to someone I am in a relationship with. (Boyfriend sounds too teenagerish to me) I think partner implies two people, on par, who have to work to make the relationship work and of course, who share in the decision-making, chores etc (Mum…I know you read this: I’m still single…this is what I would do when in a relationship!)

So tell me, do you refer to your partner as your ‘better half’? Do you think they complete you? Do you think they are your ‘other half’? Or if not any of these, what term do you use?

And am I just thinking too much and being too pedantic or are there others with such a view?

Do tell.

Until next time,


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  • Uncommon Sense
    3 October 2009 at 9:18 am

    i wouldnt have generally thought of that,, mostly nobody would care.. but what u say i right

  • Solilo
    3 October 2009 at 9:48 am

    Ha..ha..ha.. I use the phrase ‘The other half’ for my husband on my blog. I don’t think he is the ‘better half’. I don’t like anyone is better between two people.

    He sure is my other half though and that is why I married him. 😉

  • Nu
    3 October 2009 at 10:13 am

    Hahah.. Well, I have never come across myself or hubby calling me that..I usually while writing refer him to ‘hubby dearest’ or H (since his name starts with H) :))))

    While usually talking I refer to him as HP (his initials)

  • Nu
    3 October 2009 at 10:14 am

    Time to Celebrate..Time to dance..Time to party…and lots of wishes to PB for babbling more and more…hehehe 🙂

  • Titaxy
    3 October 2009 at 3:58 pm

    🙂 first of all, congrats on your 200th :-)…

    i’m with you on this too…i don’t get the whole ‘better half’ ‘you complete me’ stuff…yeah it might be cute when tom or ashton (yeah he says something like ‘she’s everything i’m not…she completes me’ in some movie) in movies, but that’s about it…

  • Matt Parker
    3 October 2009 at 6:37 pm

    “Love is union with somebody, or something, outside oneself, under the condition of retaining the separateness and integrity of one’s own self”.-Erich Fromm.

    “You compliment me” is much better than “You complete me”!

    [But girls(not all)do love it when you say “you complete me” and they go,awww really?? :P]

    And congrats on your 200th blog post!!

  • Pesto Sauce
    4 October 2009 at 10:02 am

    Usually only wives are referred as better ones

    But yes the term sucks

  • Sidthegnomenator
    4 October 2009 at 11:29 am

    I never refer to my husband as my “better” half, but my “other” half.

    And occasionally “him”.

    Or “urn thief” (when we talk cricket – he’s English).

  • Psych Babbler
    4 October 2009 at 10:16 pm

    @ Uncommon Sense: Welcome!! I think too much about stuff…maybe that’s why I thought about this! 😛

    @ Solilo: Do you know why you refer to him as ‘other half’? I’m curious…seriously. And any idea where all this originated?

    @ Nu: Thanks! Here’s to more babbles. 🙂 So you refer to hubby by name…which is what I would do to a partner.

    @ Titaxy: Thanks! I’m starting to wonder whether it’s the movies that have promoted this way of ‘thinking’…

    @ Matt: Thanks! You complement me sounds better. Now, I’m not one of those girls that go “awww” ever (unless I see a really cute dog!) and I find it weird when someone says to their partner that they complete them. Honestly sounds like a lack of self-esteem to me. 😛 Do you know where these phrases originated?

    @ Pesto: Hmm…and I guess husbands are the “other half”? Hehe…don’t know

    @ Sid: LOL at ‘urn theif’!

  • Matt Parker
    5 October 2009 at 12:58 am

    I agree these phrases do sound corny and cheesy but I think it’s something that sounds more like ….err…I dunno..:P…… I don’t know how to put it….:P Sorry.. But hey, different people have different views: P

    The terms “my better half/other half” were first recorded in “Arcadia” by Philip Sidney in 1580.I think it originated a long time ago from the Christian view of marriage. Not sure.

    As for ‘u complete me’I first heard the phrase in Jerry McGuire.

    Your take on the subject is impressive.Haven’t really looked at it from your perspective before.

  • Anonymous
    5 October 2009 at 6:16 am

    Hey hey,

    Happened to visit after ages. Of course, I agree completely. Apart from finding phrases such as “my other half” demeaning, and being somewhat dismayed at the way in which the identity of a woman seems to become an extension of that of a man’s (or vice versa) post-marriage, I also take severe objection to questions such as, “Oh, so your partner allows you to— ?” One would assume that in an equal relationship, one did not have to seek “permission,” that adjustments were made through dialogue, not through commands and diktats.

    Have you read Anne Carson’s “Eros the Bitterweet”? She studies the anatomy of love and questions the lexicon we seem to accept.

    ~ dharini

  • Aditya
    5 October 2009 at 7:50 am

    Finally, someone saw talks sense.

    Thats perfectly put 🙂 Any phrase which puts ourself down, is wrong right? then why do people use it? 😕 ..

  • afistfulofsand
    5 October 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I’m pretty sure I won’t refer to my husband as my better half. I’m of the view that each individual has to be complete and whole from within and only then even consider marriage. These are just terms of endearment though, and I doubt anyone really gives it a thought. I must admit, I’d rather hear someone mention their other half than their ‘sweetie pie’ or ‘teddy bear’. Also, ‘You complement me’ makes more sense but it ain’t half as romantic 😉

  • Solilo
    5 October 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I refer to him as ‘The other half’ on the blog not anywhere else. So it originated on the blog. I believe a couple is united and one in a family so no one is ‘better’ but both are halves of the form we call couple. So I am ‘my’ half and he is ‘his’. That makes him my other half. If you understand that concept then you won’t find anything negative in it. 🙂

    BTW congratulations on your own domain name!

  • tearsndreams
    5 October 2009 at 11:28 pm

    umm thought provoking.
    I always refer to my husband as my husband. For him I have never used the word better half. Or even my other half. I have never thought of him as completing me. Even when I am at my mushiest,I have never said you complete me.I have said I am lucky, blessed etc but as far as I can remember I have never used the word “complete” without even thinking too much about it.
    Yet I didn’t know I could make people cringe by using it to refer to their….what should i be saying here…your guy(eeks)…husband(unnecessary assumption), provide me with a word please so that I stop offending people 🙂

  • Matt Parker
    6 October 2009 at 12:15 am

    @previous reply “….that sounds more like …….terms of endearment.”!

    Nothing more.

    @afistfulofsand: As Borris Johnson says “I could not fail to disagree with you less”. 😀

    I share your views.

  • Psych Babbler
    6 October 2009 at 12:42 am

    @ Matt: Thanks for the historical background on the terms. And yes, Jerry Maguire was where I first heard ‘you complete me’…

    @ Dharini: Oh, don’t even get me started on “being allowed” to do something (esp when they say allowed to work!!!!) And no I haven’t read the book but will look out for it. Language is such an important thing…I think we end up thinking the way we use language!

    @ Aditya: Why do people use it? Conditioning I suppose…

    @ afisfulofsand: Hehe…guess it is better than ‘sweetie pie’. I do like the term ‘partner’ though I must admit. But you know what, sometimes language can be powerful and the way you think affects the way you feel (using some of my psych stuff here) and even though we may carelessly be using language in this way, it could negatively affect our sense of worth

    @ Solilo: But don’t you think then that it means you were both not ‘full’ until you got together? Sorry, I know I am being pedantic here and playing with words but if it were equal , wouldn’t you refer to your husband as ‘my other full’ 😛 Or something like that?

    @ Tearsndreams: Partner is the way to go 😉 It’s the middle ground…And don’t worry I’m possibly the minority thinking this way. Others probably do find these as terms of endearment

  • Roshan
    6 October 2009 at 2:54 am

    I just think it’s the fact that you would be very lonely without your spouse so in a way it’s a ‘Better half’. I guess it’s also a way of appreciating the person. Maybe you’re still young enough, but for a guy whose 33 and still single, I am waiting for that woman who will ‘complete’ me!

  • Psych Babbler
    6 October 2009 at 6:17 am

    @ Roshan: I think despite the lonely feeling calling someone your better half is self-deprecating. I know you probably think it’s because I’m 25 but I currently live by myself and yes, there’s occassions I feel lonely but even so, I don’t feel incomplete. Does that make sense? I am hoping to eventually find a partner to share my life with…but not someone to complete me because I think I am ‘whole’. And I think it will be the same if I’m 35 and single. Don’t know if that made sense…

  • Reflections
    6 October 2009 at 11:43 am

    LOL…seriously laughed out aloud while reading this…
    …coz I refer to my ‘partner’ as better-half in my blog;-D
    Hmmmm…..I dont really have to think too much why I call my husband my better-half….for the simple reason tht I ‘Honestly’ believe he is a better human being than me anyday.
    Even after 10 yrs of married life I sometimes just stare at him & think “He cant be for real”;-D….oooohhh we have our spats & everything but facts are facts;-)).

  • Reflections
    6 October 2009 at 11:45 am

    And oh almost forgot abt the U complete me thingie….

    Thats all bullshit;-D!!!!

  • The Survivor
    6 October 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I would differ.

    Calling someone your “other half” does not mean self depreciating phrases.

    A couple are mostly referred as “one” under the union of marriage as they are believed to complete each other.

    So when one says my other half it simply gives the meaning of oneness

    I know it might sound cliche but I think it sounds good enough!

  • Solilo
    6 October 2009 at 5:13 pm

    PB, play of words is not life. My saying that he is my other half doesn’t mean that I was not full. One thing always doesn’t mean that one meant the other thing. It is like when people say that they love living in Australia or US then it is assumed that living in India is bad. No! it is not that.

    First of all I always address him by my nam and also say my husband when I am commenting. On the blog though for identity I call him ‘The other half’ just like I call my daughter ‘Peanut’. Doesn’t mean that my daughter ceased to be human and turned into a nut. Does it?

    The other half just means he is part of THE COUPLE and that couple is me and my husband. As simple as that. 🙂

    Now I don’t like the term ‘better half’ because I don’t think anyone is better between us. We both are equal. But I have no problem if anyone uses that term for their spouse. May be their spouse is better. Who knows?

  • ani_aset
    27 October 2009 at 12:35 pm

    nice way to score 200 😀 good going PB I like your POV here. I dont use any of the phrases. I dont know what i will use once i have a ‘partner’ 😉