We all know Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and various other children’s films conditioned us to believe that life involved growing up, becoming an adult, then pow! A person would drop into our lives and we would simply know in our soul that they were “The One”. Our soulmate, the person who would intrinsically tie together with our innate being. We’re told we will just “know” when this happens. No one can explain it. It’s as mysterious as the creation of the world.
I know plenty of people reading this will tell me in the comments on Instagram that actually, The One does exist, because they've found them. Some may say I am clearly just in the wrong relationship. If I was in the right relationship, I'd have that gut feeling that tells me I've met my person.
What this mentality doesn’t take into account is the fact that we are all beautifully, wildly, chaotically different as people.
For example, I have never been able to make a decision confidently in my life. Anxiety is to thank for that - mine manifests around decisions, with every step I take in life a huge “but what if this is the wrong path!!!” moment where I question EVERYTHING - my feelings, my thoughts, how I got to this point in the first place. For a long time, I was convinced one wrong step would set me off down a completely wrong road, leaving me unhappy forever.
I will never say I have found The One because I will never have that forceful tug in my gut saying that the man I am with is The One. I have never felt that forceful tug about anything in my life.
That’s not to say my current relationship is doomed. It’s by far the healthiest I’ve ever been in, with a man I can confidently say I love, who loves me back. But is he “The One”?
Because The One doesn’t exist. People that feel they’ve found The One have actually, in my opinion, just found a really great, healthy relationship.
Because love exists, absolutely. Love is beautiful and magical and powerful. We experience it in so many ways - romantic love, platonic love, familial love. Maybe that person you say is The One is the first person you felt you could be yourself around. Maybe it’s the first person you could trust. Maybe it's the first person where you felt that incredible bond between two people who are vulnerable with each other, yet safe with each other.
Whatever the reason, it's a beautiful thing, and something about that person feels right. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they were spiritually ordained for you.
For years and years, talk of The One had me convinced I was always putting a foot wrong in relationships. If I didn’t feel this deep, innate knowledge that the person I was in a relationship was my meant-to-be, then the whole thing was a sham. My logic-driven brain that loves facts struggled to adapt to a concept that is entirely about fate.
What happens then is that every doubt or irritation gets given meaning. Maybe they’re not right for me. I’ve made the wrong choice. I’ve fallen off my life path, therefore I’ll be woefully unhappy forever.
I do believe in love. I think companionship, for many people, is one of the most wonderful parts of life. I love that two people can come together and build an amazing life filled with highs, lows, challenges and triumphs.
But I believe we meet many people we could build a beautiful life with. And not just romantically. My sister is my closest friend, the person who understands me the most. She’s very much “my person”, to quote Grey’s Anatomy. My partner may never reach that depth of understanding - we just don’t know yet. And that’s also okay. I’m not sure why, but we put so much pressure on our romantic other to fulfil that role, when we may find it fulfilled by a platonic life partner instead.
I also believe in multiple love stories. Sometimes lovers are for a season, whether that’s because your paths stop weaving together and instead veer apart, or whether tragedy cuts your story short. Maybe you will find someone and be blessed with decades of love with that person. Maybe you will spend a few magical years with one person, then decades with another. There is no right or wrong here - just a bunch of events outside of our control, and another bunch of choices we make.
When you remove the concept of scouring the Earth for your One True Match, it makes love all the more special. Love is a bit magical, yes. But it’s also about commitment, working on your shit together, choosing someone over and again. When we hear about couples who have spent 70 years together, what makes our heart sing is the way they have weathered life’s storms and continued to choose each other.
These days, I still believe love is what life is about. It's just built on choices, not on chance.