The Myth of “THE ONE”
There is a myth that is largely regarded as a fact by many. It has been circulating widely for millennia, mainly through overly romantic stories. Even before there was an internet its tendrils had already woven their way into the very fabric of society. From children’s fairy tales to big budget movies, it is ubiquitous.
Those who perpetuate this myth do not do so out of any evil intent. In fact, I believe that for the most part, they do so in an effort to bring hope to the heartbroken and the lonely. People talk about it, sing about it, and create all manner of artistic expressions around this seemingly helpful but none-the-less insidious lie – you will be happy when you find “THE ONE”.
Myth: There is one person out there, somewhere, just for me. If I find that special person, my life will be complete and we will ride off into a blissful “happily ever after”.
Okay, how many divorcees reading this believed that your spouse was “THE ONE” when you got married? Me too! I bet she also thought I was “THE ONE”, at least for a while. Then she evidently decided I was not.
So apparently, judging by the number of divorces and unhappy marriages, there is no sure-fire way to tell when you find “THE ONE”. Or, maybe the whole concept is just bunk. Maybe there is nobody on the face of this planet who can come into your life and make it all better. That sounds like a description of God, not any mere mortal – despite how attractive and/or well off they may be.
Some people waste years or even decades searching for happiness. They look for it in a thing they can buy, beg, borrow, or steal. They look for it in an experience that is exciting, emotional, sensual, expensive, esoteric, or even drug-induced. Often they look for it in romantic relationships. No matter where they search, happiness eludes them. It is always either tantalizingly just outside of their grasp, or they find it, but find it to be short-lived. Then they begin the search all over again for the next thing, the next thrill, or the next “THE ONE”.
I eventually remarried. I love my wife. She is wonderful, I make sure I remind her of that fact often, but she is not perfect. Which is cool because neither am I. If she were perfect this would never work because then she could expect me to be perfect, which will, of course, never happen. The thing is, we did not make each other happy. We were both happy before we got married. Now, I like to think that I do things that add happiness to her life, but I cannot make her happy, at least not long-term, because I am flawed. She is too. So is everyone you will ever meet.
The truth is, you will never find that perfect person. Everyone you ever have any type of relationship with will disappoint you or cause you unhappiness at some point. And, surprise, surprise, you will do the same to them. Despite your and their best efforts and intentions, it is inevitable. There will be hurt feelings, there will be misunderstandings, and there will be disagreements.
There is a reason most movies and books end at or shortly after that thrilling, long-anticipated moment when the hero and heroine finally discover that they are each other’s “THE ONE”. It leaves the myth intact. It leaves you feeling good, better than you would feel watching them two or three years later arguing over whether the toilet seat should be left up or down, or witnessing the tragic aftermath of some “bae, do I look fat in this?” incident.
There is no “THE ONE”
“THE ONE” is not out there somewhere waiting for you to find them. Just as there are no mermaids, there is no “THE ONE”. This is not bad news, it is good news. This means that instead of having to search the entire world to find your “THE ONE”, you have the arguably much easier task of becoming the one to whom people are attracted.
There are many people out there with whom you could have a wonderful marriage if you both spend time becoming healthy, attractive, well-adjusted people. It does not depend on that one-in-seven-billion shot of searching through everyone on Earth to find “THE ONE”.
So, what do I do?
Once we dismiss this myth and banish it to the same fictional realm as unicorns and pots of gold at the end of rainbows we can get down to the serious business of finding out what really does make a marriage good. If it is not a matter of finding “THE ONE”, then what is it that actually leads to a fulfilling, intimate, joyous marriage.
Become The One
The whole notion of looking for someone to make you happy reveals an attitude of selfishness. It means you are more interested in what someone can do for you than what you can do for them. That is the exact opposite of the selfless love and attitude of servanthood that are required to make a marriage, or any relationship for that matter, function properly.
Instead of wasting time looking for “THE ONE”, invest time becoming the one. Instead of getting better at searching for “THE ONE” become more adept at being encouraging, giving sincere compliments, listening, learning people’s love language, and generally being pleasant to be around. Spend your time wisely – doing the things that make you the best you you can possibly be.
Learn to honestly love – faults and all
If you have trouble loving imperfect people, you will lead a lonely life. Practice giving unconditional love to friends and family first, then to strangers. Once you can give unconditional love to pretty much anyone you come in contact with, you may be ready to try it in marriage. Without it, marriage will be unhealthy or impossible. Marriage is only good when both people know how to give and receive unconditional love.
Have realistic expectations
Yes, you can expect honesty, faithfulness, good grooming habits, and even a certain amount of physical attractiveness in a prospective mate. What you cannot expect is to never be misunderstood, never argue, never hurt each other’s feelings, never feel lonely, and to always feel happy.
Of course, you should always expect basic civility, respect, and to feel valued. And you should absolutely expect to NEVER feel threatened or the slightest bit unsafe. These are basic minimum expectations in any relationship. If a person cannot rise above that low of a bar you don’t need any kind of relationship with them, especially an intimate one. Those are people you love from a safe distance.
Don’t fall in love too quickly
Despite most people’s mistaken belief that they are looking for that one-in-a-million, or actually, one-in-seven-billion, the truth is we fall in love rather easily. Most people do it several times before, and in some cases, after they get married. Office romances attest to the fact that any two people who spend a significant amount of time together can start to bond. There are numerous people we could marry and live quite happily with. It’s not like climbing a mountain. As the term “falling in love” implies, it’s pretty easy – people can just fall into it.
The more difficult thing for most of us is to not fall in love too quickly. Guarding one’s heart is important, especially when you think you’ve found your newest “THE ONE”. Take time to find out not if they are “THE ONE”, but if they are someone who embodies the things that are important to you – the things that make for a good marriage.
What about you? Are you still searching for “THE ONE”? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
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