Friday, October 19, 2007

The Myth of "The One"

One of the strongest beliefs that keeps single people looking for love and helps couples stay together is the idea that we all have a soul mate, a life partner, a person we were destined to meet and be with. As a single woman searching for her life partner, I wanted to believe this also. As I went from my 20's to my 30's still looking for "The One," I had a changing idea of who and what I was looking for, but I had to have faith that there was someone out there for me, who was most likely searching for his partner, too.

At the age of 33, I had a conversation with the mother of one of my friends, who gave me a new way to look at this. She said there wasn't necessarily a Mr. Right out there waiting for me. She said it really depended on whether I was truly ready for a relationship. She presented me with the idea that rather than it being a matter of random chance or "God" bringing me my man, it was up to me to be prepared for love: "It's not that when The One appears, then it'll happen. It's that when you're really ready, the next guy will be The One."

I considered this very seriously and it eventually replaced my former hope that I had an ideal soul mate. Frustrated by continued failure to find a relationship, by my late 30's I had given up the idea of a destined partner. I just wanted to not be alone anymore. I took the practical view that there was no Mr. Right to whom fate was leading me. There were only a bunch of men out there, any of whom could work for me as a life partner, if I were truly open to falling in love. So I focused on being truly open to fall in love.

In January 2006 (at the age of 39) I had an epiphanic realization about how hard I had been holding onto my single status and I made a conscious decision to give up the single life and Fall In Love. After that I finally did it: the next guy I dated after that realization, turned out to be the man with whom I fell in love and stayed. I am living with him now. He's an amazingly loving, generous and optimistic person who treats me like gold. I never expected to be worthy of such an experience of being cherished. We are very happy together and this could be the guy I stay with for a very long time (I don't believe in "forever").

But I remain troubled by the question of whether my search is over. Maybe it's just the momentum of man-hunting for so long that makes me reluctant to give it up. But I think the problem is that I don't have the myth of Mr. Right to reassure me that this is they guy I belong with. If any guy could be my ideal man, depending on whether I'm truly open to loving him, then how can I ever know I've found the absolute best guy for me? If there's no Hand of God guiding me to the man I was always meant to be with, how can I trust myself to pick someone who is really good for me?

After decades of dating, after dozens of partners, after hundreds of dates, you'd think I could be assured that I've looked over ALL the goods and this man is really the best fit for me. But I don't trust my judgement and I don't believe the past 20 years have really yielded my best view of all the men, of all the types of personalities, of all the sexual dynamics and all the possible shared values. Am I really done? Is this really the best relationship for me? Without a god or religion or belief system about how the universe works, how can I ever know? I envy people who have the belief that their husband/partner was the one they were always meant to be with. I envy people with faith that their god led them to their Mr./Ms. Right. Without that myth of The One, how can I ever be certain the man-hunt is over?

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