The Truth About “The One”

After reading an article written by a very logical and wise friend, I was floored. He and his girlfriend had decided to break up because there was no Moment to clarify that they’d found the One.

I could not believe it. What was he thinking? How could he think that she wasn’t the One? How could anyone think that the One even existed?

I have been happily married for two years to a man I know is not the One. Why? I do not believe there is such a thing as the One. Am I to believe that there is one person out there for me? One person to be my other half, to make my life complete, to spend forever with? Yeah, right!

The idea of the One is just a set-up for failure. Why do we even want to start looking for the One? To find One person out of billions can only be an unattainable goal. The One is bogus!

For as long as I can remember, movies have been telling little girls and boys that there is that One, and when we meet them, we will KNOW. It might be at the bus stop or the coffee shop, but he or she is out there. What movies do not tell you is that, two months later, the conviction that this person is the One goes away, and now we cannot stand this person.

When we realize relationships take work, the goal of the One gives us a reason to end the relationship. Or, we break up with someone because we think something might be missing, even though they do make us happy. We are disappointed and dissatisfied because it is not some Hollywood fairy tale. We have all been brainwashed to believe that there is One person who will make us complete. Lo and behold, the myth of the One has struck again.

We must remember that movie scripts are written by professionals who specialize in pulling on our heartstrings. They are not real life. Real life is work. Relationships are work. The One is not going to change that.

I do not believe that we find the One. I believe that we make the One. By building a relationship through common goals and respect, we create our One. The potential of the One is ever-present, but we still have to work to attain it.

When my husband and I decided to get married, I thought about it long and hard. I realized that he was a man I wanted to marry not because I thought that he would give my life meaning, or that I could not live without him, but because I knew that our personalities, habits, priorities, and aspirations were in sync.

So far, everything is going great, not because he is the One, but because we are both committed to the relationship, to making it the ONE for us.

Thinking that our significant other is the One can sabotage the entire foundation of the relationship. The One implies a sort of higher power or magical component. The One allows us to slack off with the effort we put toward the relationship. If we don’t let ourselves be sucked into this “One” hooey, then we realize that we have to work to make the relationship successful.

If we limit ourselves to the One, we may be doomed to fail before we even start. But if we realize that we can make a life with a number of different people, as long as we are willing to work at making them the One, then the odds are much more in our favor.

Now, the task of finding the One doesn’t seem so daunting anymore, does it?

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  • This article made me go “right on!” and “no way!” all at the same time! I have to say it’s kind of depressing to think that your marriage is based on this laundry list of why you and your husband make good partners with no “oh, by the way, I love and adore him too”. OK, in all fairness, I agree with you: relationships are work, no one is perfect, and there are lots of great people out there who can become your successful life partner. At the same time though, there is such a thing as a spark, and trusting your instinct and knowing when something is right- and, conversely, when it isn’t. There IS such a thing as THE ONE FOR YOU. Even you found it.

  • I love the point about having to work at relationships and love, but then the downside of empowerment and the relationship being our responsibility is that it seems like we could easily screw it up! Whereas the idea of finding “the one for me” as Jaz puts it is comforting in that it makes me feel that even if I make mistakes, everything will turn out o.k. in the end, because we were meant to be together. I guess that’s only a fairytale then?

    • Mariah Sandoval

      I think that is where we rely on the other person being committed to the relationship. Screwing up is going to happen regardless, but if we are with someone that wants to make it work then it is more likely the screw up wont be the end.

  • I agree in that if we are with someone who wants to make it work, then the relationship is likely to last longer, but I think that the relationships that are more satisfying are comprised of two people who feel like they are right for each other, rather than two people who simply want to be in a relationship and have found someone else who want the same things in life. The latter is logical in many ways, but it’s based on two people wanting a relationship and a certain life, rather than specifically wanting the other person. Also, if this article was written in response to Dennis Hong’s most recent article, it didn’t sound at all (at least from what he said) that his relationship ended because he and his ex had problems that they weren’t willing to work on. Rather, it seemed like something actually was missing from the relationship, in which case, even if people don’t believe that there is only one “The One,” they still may know when someone isn’t right for them (with the awareness that there can be more than one right person).

  • Thanks, Erica. I think my piece inspired Mariah to write this based on her personal experiences. But, you’re right, there was more to my story. It wasn’t just a matter of finding that perfect One person for us. I wanted her to be the One, and she wanted me to be the One. We just couldn’t… get “there.”

    I guess every relationship is different. I’ve had friends who had that “just know” moment, I’ve had friends who made–and continue to make–a concerted effort to make the other person the One, and I’ve had friends who never even think about this crap, but still seemed to fall into a great marriage.

    Who knows how love really works. I mean, if we did, we wouldn’t need blogs like this, would we?

  • Wow. The One thing I can’t stand about this article is how often you say, “The One.” That got old so dang fast.

    I get what you’re saying about this and I definitely don’t believe that movies portray love very realistically or that each person has “soul mate” or whatever. But this article makes it seem like you don’t have a single romantic bone in your body, m’am. AND it’s more of a RANT than an article which is also annoying. But I do have some comments.

    The ideal for any relationship is to find someone whom you do have chemistry with AND whom you share life goals/good personality traits with. There may not be a PERFECT match for you out there, but daters should be able to find a happy balance between attraction and compatibility with that other person without having settling for something more “realistic” that lacks the chemistry. Were you really trying to say that attraction/chemistry is WORTHLESS? Because that’s almost what it seems like.

    I agree that chemistry shouldn’t be the only thing a relationship is based on, like it seems to be in movies. But it should definitely factor in. I guess that’s what I’m saying. Are you disagreeing with that?

  • I think one of the biggest misconceptions about finding “the One” is that you get to stop working on the relationship. Personally, I do think I found him and I’ve been married for 8 years. But I also never expected him to fall down and worship me while I sat back and ate bon bons and sipped margaritas. Relationships are built on mutual respect and understanding – too many people feel like they don’t have to give respect to get any. It’s a two way street.

    That being said – I have to throw my bag in with the hopeless (or hopeful) romantics. I believe in true love and not simply a compatible match. I’ve dated plenty of really decent guys before meeting my guy, but there was something missing each time. There was no disrespect, they were perfectly decent guys and I feel bad that I couldn’t give back what I was getting emotionally. But when I finally did meet my husband, there was a connection that I didn’t have with anyone else. It hit on a number of levels, emotional, physical, and psychological.

    Maybe I’m wrong, naive, or need to change my prescription for rose colored glasses, but he’s the one.

  • I KNOW! Love this article. You beautifully articulated my sneaking suspicions about relationships and buying into popular culture’s concept of ‘falling in love and living happily ever after’. Love is not just about feelings and attraction and chemistry and all that. Above all it’s a DECISION you make and what you do to commit to that decision. Love can make you do irrational things, but that doesn’t mean love is irrational. In fact, I believe love is rational and practical.
    Thanks for this.

  • Very nice article, “The One” myth is the downfall of many couples. I also love when someone acknowledges the importance of putting in effort for making your relation work and keeping the flame alive, and not just bailing out at the first sign of trouble (like many divorces are).
    HOWEVER, one must be wary of the other extreme – the one (sic!) that disdains love, emotions, passion, natural compatibility in favor of the effort put to make a relation work. This is another common pitfall for many married people, who are so afraid of never finding “true love” and ending up alone that they settle with someone mainly (or solely) for rational reasons! Basically such people sacrifice passion, romance, affection for (they hope) stability and harmony. Most likely, it won’t work – just like you need a good foundation to build a good house, you need a good foundation to build a relation – cold, rational, practical thought may not be best for that.
    At best, those people will be mildly unhappy.
    At worst, such a relationship will cause large amounts of psychological (and sometimes physical) trauma both to the couple and any potential children.
    In a few cases, such relationships worked out ok, but that happened because the two actually fell in love with each other, even if it happened after they got married.
    Of course, it’s your choice if you want to take that chance.
    (By the way, for whatever reason, this reminds me of the fun I’ve had when I heard that the authors of “The Rules” got divorced).

  • “I do not believe that we find the One. I believe that we make the One. By building a relationship through common goals and respect, we create our One. The potential of the One is ever-present, but we still have to work to attain it.”

    Fabulous quote! This is really good advice that I intend to keep in mind, frequently.

    I don’t agree at all with the idea of the One because I believe there are many “Ones” throughout our lives, but I think a lot of people refer to the “One” when they mean that this person invokes some special emotion in them that is more intense and long-lasting that the many casual loves you will have throughout your life. For example, I think that the man I am currently dating has the possibility of being someone I want to marry and spend the rest of my life with because of our personalities, characteristics and how I feel when I am with him. But, I also know that if things ended, although I would be devastated for a while, I’d find a new person who could be the “One”.

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