The myth of the half orange

The myth of the half orange

We are quite accustomed and accustomed to hearing that people need to find our better half to be happy in love and life.

Since we were born we are bombarded by the so-called "myths of romantic love", through stories (such as the famous Charming prince), movies, television.

And of all the myths related to relationships, the most classic is that of "the half orange." Although the romantic myth can be considered par excellence, the truth is that behind this myth many times we find ourselves more with human ambition, with the desire to possess, in which the other person becomes an object, than in the fact of share happiness


  • 1 Where does the myth come from?
  • 2 The search for the average orange can generate a lot of unhappiness
  • 3 Idealize the couple

Where does the myth come from?

From classical Greece, we must look for the origin of the half orange in Plato and his work The banquet in which Plato himself teaches the teachings of Aristophanes. This explains how at the beginning the humans were perfect spherical beings and possessed four arms, four legs and two identical faces, one on each side of the head. As these beings believed themselves to be powerful, they dared to challenge the gods and Zeus punished them by splitting them in two. Since then we wander the world looking for our other half.

So, when we believe in the better half we are believing in perfection, we think we can find someone who is tailor-made for us. But this perfection is impossible since a couple are two people and where there are two people sooner or later conflicts will arise. The theme of falling in love and the half orange has a lot to do with the cultural construction we make about love. A historian sociologist of the theme of romantic love is Denis de Rougemont who defends that in the western culture, this half-orange is part of our love model and this is explained in his essay Love and the West

The search for the half orange can generate a lot of unhappiness

This myth that is so typical of western culture appears with special force in the sentimental education of women, love would become a project in their lives, without another person can not be complete. The great defect of this thought is that two can never be one, and this idea can cause much pain, because there is an idealization of love and real love is not eternal, nor is it perfect, nor does it come to save our lives.

The psychological origin of the myth is our fear to loneliness. Since we are babies, if we feel we are in danger we do everything possible to be able to feel protected, even disregarding our internal needs if in this way we manage to be cared for. This fear of loneliness can cause us to end up sacrificing a part of our "I" to be accepted by others, so that they do not get angry with us and not be abandoned.

The myth of the better half comes to reinforce this belief that we need the attention of others to be happy. This is very common to see in pairs that are believed to form an indissoluble whole. It is common to see these couples, for whom the passion of the beginning is over and they no longer feel they are in love, clinging to the myth since they believe that romantic love will arise again in their lives. They are couples who highly value the union to such an extent that it is difficult for them to do things separately. This attempt to merge with the other is not good for either member.On the other hand, what would be advisable is to create a certain distance in the couple in order to foster a mature marriage, to work on one's own individuality. We alone are already complete and we don't need another person for it, even if they sold it to us like that.

Idealize the couple

When we meet someone it seems to be perfect for us and we are surprised at how well we have coupled, so we come to believe the myth. But it is only an initial illusion. Living as a couple is learned and there are never two people alike, and when there are differences always conflicts arise. And if we believe in the better half is when we ask ourselves; If we are two halves of the same thing, why don't we understand each other? This can lead to great anxiety since we associate the half orange with the condition of being happy.

Thus the great error of this myth is to consider ourselves incomplete beings that we can only find the fullness of finding love in another person and that if we do not succeed we will be unhappy. If we think that only with a relationship can we find happiness we are wrong, happiness is an inner state and only within us can we reach it. All people are complete beings and for a couple to function their members must be seen as complete and independent people. And they are together or because they lack anything, but because they want to share their life and their happiness, their problems and their sorrows.


Plato (2003). Dialogues Complete work in 9 volumes. Volume III: Phaedo Banquet. Gredos publishing house. Madrid.

From Rougemont, Denis (1979): Love and the west, Editorial Kairós, Barcelona.