Neo: Why do my eyes hurt? Morpheus: You've never used them before. Morpheus: Rest, Neo, the answers are coming. (Conversation between Neo and Morpheus; Source)
You’re a kid, sitting in front of the TV, watching Disney cartoons. You see how Snow White is brought back to life by true love’s kiss, how the prince looks all over the kingdom for Cinderella, and how Aladdin saves his one and only Princess Jasmine. All of them find their One True Love and live happily ever after.
Then you go to church and you’re told that God has the perfect partner prepared for you and that you have to wait for him or her with a pure heart and untainted, virgin body.
Then you watch Hollywood movies and see how Richard Gere finds and falls in love with the prostitute Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, how Mr. Big and Carrie find each other in the Sex and the City, and how Rachel and Ross find love in Friends.
Our entire society is built around the idea of the One True Love. You grow up looking for this One True Love everywhere. And you see this model from such an early age so many times that even unconsciously you start to create an expectation...
IF THE ONE TRUE LOVE IS A MALE
- The One True Love should salvage you (from being poor, from solitude, from the feeling of being unuseful etc.).
- He should be a hero ready to fight with your parents, your boss, a dragon or the entire world for you
- He should be rich, acknowledged, someone with a higher social status.
- He should be a bull in the bed and compatible with you in any possible ways.
IF THE ONE TRUE LOVE IS A FEMALE
- She should adore you like hero.
- She shouldn't be an easy target: she should be a fortress to conquer.
- She should be young and beautiful as a princess.
- She should be a wild cat in the bed and compatible with you in any possible ways.
Maybe not every single point matches your expectations from these above. But please stop now for a minute to ask yourself a question: how do you imagine your One True Love? And how will you recognize if you will have found him/her?
And when you will find each other you'll have nothing else to do than live happily ever after. It may sound extremely childish but still millions if not billions live accordingly. If it wasn't true we wouldn't feel such a great pleasure and satisfaction watching these romantic stories unfold in movies either, would we?
But the One True Love does not exist.
Novels and cartoons only describe the honeymoon phase of relationships, only up to the point where two people find one another and are still very much in love. The fifty years coming after the honeymoon is usually covered with a sentence or two saying how everything for the rest of their lives is full of love and happiness.
And as marriages – or at least long-term relationships – are treated as the final goal in life, our culture and our society do not provide solutions for the problems that arise in those fifty years.
You won’t read about the first argument between Snow White and Prince Charming.
The cartoon won’t show when the prince cheats on Cinderella and their relationship is in crisis.
And you, who grew up watching these cartoons and reading these fairy tales, don’t know how to handle the reality that looks different than what you watched and read. When you eventually find the One True Love but somehow things don't go as expected. When you have the One True Love as your partner but suddenly you start to feel something towards somebody else - at least sexually.
When the One True Love maybe cheats on you - or you become a cheater that you would have never thought to be possible...
If you are not happy and cheerful in your (monogamous) relationship, the problem is always you or your partner - and never the principle that leads to the false expectations. Then here is the time to break up or divorce because the existing problems clearly show that he or she can not the One True Love. If he or she was these just couldn't happen. Or even...
...you start to believe that problem is in you. While it’s the expectation that’s unrealistic.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if one in every ten of the latest iPhones turned out to be faulty? It would be a huge scandal!
There would be hundreds of articles expressing outrage, the news would show loyal fans disillusioned, complaining about Apple, and the company would no longer be considered a leading brand and would struggle to stay afloat.
Apple would collapse. And this would happen only if one in every ten of the phones would be faulty? If their "success rate" would be just 90 percent?
Would you board an airplane that has only 99% of chance to land successfully? (Nowadays your chance to die in a flight is even less than 0.00001% so you have 99.99999% chance to survive statistically.)
But we don't even dare to think about rethinking our relationship models while for instance in the United Kingdom, out of every 100 marriages about 41 end in divorce. It's only a 59% "succes rate", but people look at you strangely if you raise questions about traditional marriages!
And these are only the divorces - those cases when two people vowed eternal love and fidelity to each other in front of the authorities and witnesses! How low would the success rate of relationships be if we considered as part of the statistics every single "serious" relationship? If we include also the ones where the couple was fully convinced for years that they found their One and Only True Love - but ended in breaking up eventually?
And what is considered a "successful" relationship? Can we say that anything that doesn't last forever is a failure? Also, can we assume that all those who never divorce are the happiest, as well? What if some of even those who have seemingly found their One True Love - because never ended officially their marriage - can feel miserable, too?
We tend to believe in the idea of the One True Love with blind fate. We build our lives on a concept that fails in practice way too often to keep sacrosanct. But instead of stopping for a moment and rethink our boundaries, many even pour scorn on those who dare to try living differently.
We not only happily volunteer to board the airplane that is way too likely to crash, but our societies even call those crazy who decide to find their own path.
What if we dare to change the paradigm?
What if instead of chasing our One True Love we accept that the success of our relationship primarily depends on the amount of energy and effort we invest in it?
What if we accept that developing a successful relationship rather requires work and is not the result of some grandiose pre-determined meeting.
What if we allow our partners to fulfil with others their desires that are incompatible with us? What if we don't just take it as an "allowance" but we could even support and share each other's joy? We have been living this way with Barbara for many years. It is possible. You can trust me.
In this case - if we dare to leave behind the comfortable but self-deluded galaxy of fairy tales - we can enter a new, freer, more sincere and happier world. But in this new territory, we lose our chance to blame somebody not being "the One True Love" for the failure of a relationship. Here, we are responsible for the success of our affairs and marriages, it depends on us how much joy and content we find in our relationships and it's strictly our personal responsibility to help our partners and significant others to help to become their best possible selves.
On top of all, the idea of the One True Love is a huge burden. To hold any other person responsible for making our dreams come true, and to be seen as the person responsible for someone else’s dream, is almost too big a task for anyone. It's also a frightening decision to give up all our dreams that can not come true with the one and only person we have chosen. Or to suffer the sense of being the one who won't let their love thrive in some particular areas of their lives simply because no one can be a partner in everything.
I don't and can't dance, for instance - but Barbara is a professional dancer. Which one of us should "suffer" for the other? Should I do something that I feel uncomfortable doing or should she give up the desire to dance all night long with her love? Should we break up and should she leave me for someone who can fulfil this craving or should she bury this need? If she leaves me won't the other person have other similar nuances of incompatibility? Should she leave then him, too and repeat this circle hoping to find someone, the perfect match? The One True Love?
It’s time to set our minds free! If the One True Love doesn't exist we are not obliged to be perfect matches. It also means that we don't have to find everything in one person and we don't have to put the pressure on each other either. If the One True Love doesn't exist - it's practically good news. And it also means that nothing constricts us from creating love-based, constructive, consensual, sincere, joyful, respectful, forward-looking relationships with multiple people. What would be against it? Why not?