“Nothing spoils the taste of peanut butter like unrequited love.”
~ Charlie Brown
A few years back a popular way to describe the people we were casually dating was they’re not Mrs. or Mr.Right, they are Mrs. or Mr. Right Now. It is nice in concept because it seems to honor that a person can be right for us in the moment and not necessarily for a lifetime. However, I am not sure that this concept always translates into practice very well.
Calling someone Mrs. or Mr. Right Now might be a simple declaration of the it-is-what-it-isness of the relationship, but it’s my experience that referring to someone in that way is usually said with a lighthearted guise, often covering up undertones of frustration. The title implies we realize that something is wrong enough to cancel out a future with this person.
Who is the right one? Most of us think of “the one” as the single person on the planet who truly gets us. The only other soul who sees us for who we really are, and loves us because or in spite of our idiosyncrasies. Ideally this person fits seamlessly into our lives, or saves us from a life we aren’t happy living.
They are our ultimate companion, our perfect counterpart who makes us feel strong when we feel weak, rich when we are poor, happy when we are sad, and so on. Countless love songs croon about finding the one, losing the one, the one completing us, the one destroying us, and on and on. Self-disclosure: I love this romantic and tragic stuff as much as anybody, maybe even more!
Nonetheless, I feel I must deliver the following news. “The one” is a fantasy, a cultural myth.
Most of us have internalized this belief to some extent whether we are conscious of it or not. I considered myself to be an independent, self-reliant woman my whole life, only to come to the realization that, buried deeply underneath that bold exterior, I was still secretly hoping that Mr. Right would come and sweep me off my feet.
The shame and disappointment I felt for not having overcome this hidden damsel-in-distress complex was pretty tough to confront. I sensed that not confronting it would have been much more painful in the long run. Ignoring it would have probably kept me hooked on the private hope that my fantasy would become a reality.
When I imagined what it would look like to be swept away by this ideal partner, the dark underbelly showed itself. Being a truly powerless, deluded female dependent on one special other for fulfillment would suck!
It is totally unreasonable to expect this from another, and disempowering to ourselves to believe we are not whole all on our own. Regardless, it is not easy to let go of the idea that there is a perfect someone out there for us.
One of the difficult parts of giving up this fantasy is that we are now made more aware of those undeveloped aspects of ourselves that we were hoping someone else would compensate for.
Often, when our unconscious (or conscious) deficiencies line up well with another, we tend to feel that we have found our soul mate. For example, you aren’t good with money and you meet a money maven, and other stuff like that.
The rightness or wrongness in terms of actual compatibility can be easily overshadowed by the powerful fantasy of completion vis-a-vis the one.
It seems more fun (and easy) to just fall in love with someone who makes us better, fills in the gaps. It must be said, there is nothing wrong with this approach! It is pretty ubiquitous.
Whatever the source of our motivations, we will always be warm-blooded social mammals who, of course, want companionship. This fact need not be denied, and brings me back to Mrs/Mr. Right versus Mrs/Mr. Right Now.
It would be interesting to see what is possible if we gave ourselves permission to enjoy the person who is in front of us rather than focusing on what the person can complete for us (stuff that maybe we could be working on for ourselves), or what we think they are lacking.
Consider that there is no difference between Mrs/Mr. Right and Mrs/Mr. Right Now, that there is only this moment and who you are with is the right one for you. We don’t always know why someone is in our life, and if we hold them to a future fantasy we may not find out.
It may be pertinent to look upon others with greater curiosity about who they are and how they factor into our ideals of the perfect mate.
Is the dismissal from running to be that person based on a true incompatibility, or is it related to the untransformed aspects of ourselves? Reviewing the list of requirements (yes, you have one) for Mrs/Mr. Right in light of this will likely prove quite revealing in terms of what we think we lack yet want a partner to fulfill.
I cannot conclude without stating the following, there is no right or wrong to what you want. You can simply want what you want without analysis or justification. One does not need to be a Bodhisattva, or have completed the individuation process or attained any other “elevated” form to be worthy of life-long love.
If you are very lucky (like winning the lottery lucky), you may meet someone who aligns perfectly with all your crap and vice-versa, and none of the above will make a bit of difference.
Editors: Jennifer Cusano / Andrea B.
Deborah Cluff wears a watch with skeleton heart cut-outs on its face and has the Latin phrase amor fati carved onto her corpus. That is to say, she’s a Relationship Specialist who works with both light and shadow in love. Thank goodness she is well-grounded with a MA in Clinical Psychology and is working on her PhD in Depth Psychotherapy! Deborah’s approach is that of a classically trained clinician and a somatically attuned intuitive with over 10 years of combined experience and education in psychology as well as mind-body healing arts.