Now that we're a week past the chocolate, roses and CVS Valentine’s Day teddy bears, it's time we have a reasonable discussion about love.
This talk is necessary because the image of love we celebrate every February is not — as Mariah Carey would say, "just a sweet, sweet fantasy, baby" — but a lie that undermines all true meaningful connections we make in our lives.
I am, of course, talking about our search for "the one," our
"soulmate,” and “the love of our lives."
If we haven't found "the one," we're holding out for them. And why wouldn't we? They're our other half, the yin to our yang, the Michelle to our Barack.
"The one" has an exciting life story which they reveal to us at all the right moments, but not too exciting as to make us feel guilty staying in and watching Netflix. They finish our sentences and oursandwiches. Above all, this idealistic fantasy of a human being who loves us for who we truly are — wrinkles, warts and all.
It's pretty unfair.
If the one for us is nothing but an amalgamation of positive traits, then we're going to be searching for a very long time. Or worse, we'll grow resentful and hurt perfectly good people for not surpassing our impossibly high expectations.
This is where the danger of this thinking truly lies. We already make the search for decent people more difficult by comparing them against the perfect person who lives in our head. But after we find someone who checks all our boxes, we're so battered and beleaguered from dating that we conclude this other person must have been made for us, and we, in turn, were made for them.
On the surface, a soul mate seems like a comforting thought, because it allows us to forget that this person who we love could walk out of our life at any time. And if they do leave us, we get to tell ourselves "it wasn't meant to be" and we're assured that "the one" is still out there.
But it erases the one thing that makes love meaningful in the first place: another person is choosing to be with us. They didn't find the person they were destined to meet; somehow our paths crossed and we chose to build something together.
A partner, whether for life or for a weekend, is a privilege that we often mistake for a birthright.
No, I don't believe in "the one," but I believe in something just as rare: meeting someone at the exact moment we need to. Maybe we realize it, maybe we don't. But together, we choose to make something special. We support each other, and most importantly, we accept each other for who we truly are.
This isn't just limited to romantic partners either. We place so much emphasis on finding ourselves a special someone that we often overlook the love we receive from our family and friends daily. And yet, these are the people who support us when our romantic partners don’t meet our ideals, or when we didn’t meet theirs.
So, this year, stop searching for "the one," and open yourself to love — in all its forms.