I want to believe in “the one.” There’s something so romantic about it.
Maybe it’s the embarrassing number of romantic comedies I’ve watched throughout quarantine or the part of me that holds out hope for my “perfect ending,” despite my deep, familiar knowledge that perfect does not exist. However, I still want there to be a “one.” Ideally, “one” with a good job and a great sense of humor, but I digress.
I’ve heard arguments for and against the idea of “the one.” Its proponents use phrases like “soulmate” and “I knew from the moment I met him/her” that signify exclusivity, exactness and inevitability. It’s the idea that if you just wait long enough—if you hold out hope for your path to cross with that of the one for whom you were made, if, scarier still, you say no to those that don’t quite hit the mark—the stars will eventually align and you’ll meet your missing puzzle piece, your better half and so forth.
It’s the idea that if you just wait long enough…the stars will eventually align and you’ll meet your missing puzzle piece, your better half and so forth.
I find myself drawn to this perspective. I want the (growing) list of my exes to be not a symbol of failure but rather a symbol of good choices sacrificed in pursuit of the better choice. I want those endings to have meaning in light of my eventual “right” beginning. I want every breakup to signify nothing more than time well spent discovering who “the one” is not.
But throughout time as that list has grown, I’ve learned a thing or two about love that prevents these wistful thoughts of “the one” from going any further. Namely, that love is far more a choice than it is an emotion, far more action than circumstance and far more resolve than romantic ideals about destiny or fate.
Love is far more a choice than it is an emotion, far more action than circumstance and far more resolve than romantic ideals about destiny or fate.
The idea that there is one perfect person for each of us begs the question, “How do we know when we’ve found them?” And the only possible way to answer is simply to rely on our feelings.
However, feelings evolve. They change throughout time and begin to look different as relationships mature. They are tested when friction and arguments arise, and feelings are often fleeting in their nature.
As they are challenged by the inevitable conflict that healthy relationships endure, how easily would we then call into question whether this person was really “the one” after all? How quickly might our answer change if we relied only on our emotions to decide?
Love, then, has to be built on more than just feelings. Love grows not in the absence of trials, arguments or inflection points where the relationship is questioned, but because of those things. Love is shown through commitment; it’s given by the decision that says no matter what challenges arise or how feelings shift, you will continue to choose each other every day.
Love grows not in the absence of trials, arguments or inflection points…but because of those things.
If love is marked by decision more than emotion, I can’t help but assume that finding the right partner is too. Feelings are fleeting. Resolve is far more romantic.
It would be easier to think that there was one perfect person out there for each of us, and if we just look hard enough, we’ll surely find them. However, it is far more realistic and far more in line with everything we know to be true about love, that the hard work of pursuit, risk, trying again when your heart gets broken and resolving to stay when the going gets tough is where true romance lies.
In the end, I’d rather know that my partner had a million choices but still chose me, instead of him not really having a choice at all. I’d rather know that he was only “the one” because I decided him to be so, and him me, than wonder if there was someone more suited still out there.
I’d rather know that my partner had a million choices but still chose me.
I’d rather rest in the fact that we’ve seen each other for all we are—good and bad—and determined that we would still choose each other, day after day, no matter what comes, than in a mystical alignment of the stars. Maybe commitment is the most romantic ending after all.
Do you or do you not believe in “the one”? How has your perspective evolved over time?
Image via Raisa Zwart Photography