This article was later published at Thought Catalog (November 2nd)
I feel bad starting an article with something so abrupt, but I cannot think of any other way for a subject such as this. So I’m just going to lay it on you. There is no such thing as “the one”.
Let me say that again: There is no such thing as “the one”.
Perhaps your belief in “the one” has been informed by popular culture. No shame admitting that, if it’s the case. Marketing is effective for a reason. But do recognize that while love can be the most wonderful feeling one ever experiences in life, “love” has also become an industry. For girls especially, “the one” is dropped on them like bombs on Dresden from the time they are knee-high through cartoon fairy tale adaptations, story books, beauty products, etc. This is because companies know that the only thing more profitable than getting a consumer’s hopes up, is keeping them up indefinitely. That might sound a bit cynical, but ask yourself, what other motive would places interested in making money have for promoting this myth? While love can be fantastic, there is also an industry called “love”, and it is vicious. “Love”, the industry, is more than happy to keep you believing in “the one” so it can continue getting your ones... and tens, and twenties, and hundreds.
But perhaps your belief that we all have a “one” is rooted in religious faith. Do you believe that “god is writing your love story” and that because god is writing your love story, that means he has designated a specific person to be your husband or wife? Very well, consider this: There are approximately 3,418,059,380 women in the world right now, and approximately 3,477,829,638 men (as of 2014). If there is a god who is willing to overlook cancer and infant death and natural disasters, but is not willing to let any romantic relationships go unplanned, then the fact is that god must really have a low opinion of the approximate 59,770,258 men who make up the difference (you can find global population numbers here). Of course I find this unlikely, if not for the disparity in the gender ratio, then for the simple fact that people die a day before and a day after their wedding days, and unless you’re willing to believe that god is bumping people off because they’re not right for each other, then I would suggest you nix the whole “god is writing my love story” hypothesis. This is without mentioning, mind you, people who have been married to a spouse for years, only for that spouse to die and that person remarry later and find happiness with someone else. But I suppose if you were really determined, you could just alter your belief in “the one” to your belief in “the two for some people” to accommodate.
Maybe, however, your belief in “the one” isn’t because of religion or pop-culture. If not either one of those things, may I ask what your belief is due to? If it’s mere sentiment because you are with someone currently who makes your heart leap and your stomach drop, then I am so so happy for you. Genuinely. For even though there is really no such thing as “the one”, anytime someone makes you feel like they’re “the one” and that you are their “one” is a time that is truly magnificent. I have nothing bad to say to you. But... and you knew there would be a “but” didn't you?... what you’re feeling is infatuation. Infatuation is a great feeling provided it’s reciprocated (pure hell if it isn’t), but it does not mean that you and your significant other were “meant for each other” in any cosmic sense. It only means that the chemicals in your brain and the chemicals in their brain are reacting to one another and firing off at just the right moments. Even more importantly, you must know that this infatuation will pass, and that when it does, your relationship will require work. “Love”, the industry, doesn’t want you to know that real love is more labor and effort than it is “that funny feeling inside”.
There is another innate reason, perhaps, for why a lot of us believe in “the one”. Without romantic love in our lives we do not quite feel “complete”. We feel as if there is something— or someone rather— missing in our lives. But the reason we feel less than complete when single, is not because there’s “another half” of us out there waiting to be discovered. And wouldn’t it in fact be a terrible thing if there was? Think of how infinitesimally small your chances would be of finding this “soulmate” out of 7,000,000,000 people. No, far more comforting, the reason we feel less-than-complete without a romantic partner is due to biological necessity (and this means the problem of “the void” can be much more easily remedied). Evolution has thrust upon us a need for sex (pardon the pun) in order to propagate the species. Love, then, (and lust) is the chemical mechanism meant to ensure that happens. Obviously this doesn’t mean we all have to have kids, or that those who cannot have children or do not want them have no use for intimacy. All I am saying is that our feeling “incomplete” without a romantic partner stems, at least in part, from nature’s demand that humankind carry on carrying on— not from “another half” of us being out there. So, if you’re lonely, the good news is that you don’t have to wait for a certain person...
The truth is, there are plenty of people in this world who you can be happy with, and who in turn would be happy with you.
The truth is, to continue believing in “the one” as an adult is an act of cowardice. Cowardice because it makes love magic instead of something that requires work in order to build. True love, just as everything else natural in our world, evolves. When two people stay with one another past the “warm and fuzzies” and hack through the thick jungle of life together, through tragedy and sadness and anger, as well as through excitement and happiness, that’s love. But in order to experience that kind of love, one has to make themselves vulnerable to another person who is just as flawed, rather than believe that there is already a person out there perfectly tailored to them and their every need. In other words, in contrast to “the one”, to embrace real love takes courage.
Our lives, much like the universe, are a dice game. They roll and land wherever they do, and the only thing really left up to us, is how grand we want to make our tumble.