When we’re young (and often as we age), we dream of how some day “the one” will sweep us off our feet, be our absolute “soulmate,”and make us blissfully happy forever after. It’s what our romantic comedies are all about—that one person we’ve all been waiting for.
Do a simple internet search, and everyone is thinking and writing about it. Huffington Post gives us 9 signs, Wikihow gives us strategies (with pictures), and Amazon has countless books on the subject.
Problem is, there’s actually danger in this thinking. Danger we are rather unaware of as we’re swept into our romantic dream. Here’s the danger:
- It presupposes predestination or fate. Most people have never thought about this one, but it’s kind of at the core of “the one” thinking. It means that there’s a predetermined set of steps that two individuals must take in order to meet and live happily ever after. Where does one’s free will fit in? What if your “the one” really screwed up his or her life with poor decisions, while you made good ones? What if his or her path, rather than leading to you, led away, and you never meet? Does that mean you will never know “the one”?
- It prioritizes romantic feelings over the work of commitment. You see, if “the one” is always supposed to see eye to eye with me and sweep me off my feet and make me happy, when I have to work at a relationship, I may just quit. If it’s a lot of work, then he or she must not be “the one,” since I should simply easily get along with my soulmate. Thing is, all relationships take hard work and commitment.
- It prioritizes “love at first sight” over longer-term observation. “I knew s/he was the one the moment we met” is a common idea or habit in “the one” thinking. Problem is, we hide much of our true selves at a first meeting, especially what we are ashamed of and anything we think the other may not like. A person’s character, however, is proven in the long run, not in early encounters.
- It can be a reason for divorce. Marriage is hard work, and the circumstances of life and children can be very challenging. When we are derailed by them and no longer able to talk or agree about them with our spouse, we may quit, thinking that the person we married is obviously not “the one.” And then we can set off on another search for “the one” who will really connect with us and make us happy.
Perhaps we need to change our thinking about “the one.” Perhaps we need to realize that we are all human and thus fallible; we will not be able to consistently make anyone else happy, for happiness is our own choice.
Maybe rather than being “the one” to sweep us off our feet, “the one” is the person that we decide to choose every day, even when it’s not an easy choice.
Maybe rather than being “the one” who agrees with us, “the one” is the person who challenges us in sometimes painful ways to be a better version of ourselves.
Maybe “the one” is made, not born. Made through personal choices of integrity, made through choices of perseverance as a couple, made during hard times of deep challenge, made throughout the relationship, and not at the beginning.
If “the one” is made, not born, we avoid the danger, and, I think, we live reality better.