The idea that we have only “one true love” of our lives is rift in our culture.
To illustrate, think of “The One’s” role in pop culture and some of the greatest fictional couples of all time: Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler or Bella Swann and Edward Cullen. It’s hard to imagine those characters with anyone other than each other.
Growing up, I firmly believed that there was only one person out there for everyone and therefore, my goal as an adult was to find that one person. It’s something that I clung to until quite recently.
Like many epiphanies, mine was sparked by a conversation. Namely, this one was with an older friend who has been married and divorced twice and has had several significant others over the years.
I asked which, if any, of them was “The One.” Her response: They all were at the time.
At first her response took me aback.
How was it possible that all these people had been “The One” especially considering that none of them were with her now? After all, isn’t the main goal in finding the mythical One is being with him or her forever?
However, as our conversation progressed it made sense.
Very few us go through life with the same people in our lives be it friends, lovers or even interests. As we get older and go through life changes, certain people and things, who suited us at one point, no longer do. In most cases, the choice to move on to other people and things is nothing personal. (We are all familiar with the expression, “I just moved on”).
Therefore, why should it be any different with people we once felt deep personal connections to and who for a brief or even long period of time was our One?
In theory, dubbing someone “The One” or not seems fairly trivial. However, the idea that there is only one ideal soulmate for each one of us can have some unintended negative consequences one of which is often noticeable when relationships end.
It’s quite common for people to say at the end of a long-term relationship that it didn’t work out. It may be the case that it didn’t last, in many cases, the relationship did work for a significant period of time.
Having had more than my fair share of failed relationships and even some downright bad ones, I am all too aware of the tendency to ignore or forget what worked and focus only on what didn’t. While most of us are aware of the dangers of looking back at the past with rose-colored glasses, it can be equally as bad to look back and see only the bad.
Even worse is the tendency to ignore or significantly downplay past relationships altogether.
Recently, the twice-divorced Sean Penn raised eyebrows with his comments that if he were to marry his current girlfriend, Charlize Theron, he would consider it his “first marriage” because he claimed that he “[had] been married under circumstances where [he] was less informed than [he is] today.”
While this may have some merit, I would still argue that even situations like he describes, past relationships still matter and sometimes, learning what we do from them allows us to enter into better ones—like presumably he is in today.
Therefore, rather than assuming there is only one person out there for everyone, perhaps it would be better to acknowledge that at least for many of us, there may be several ones throughout our lives.
Even the late Elizabeth Taylor, who was well-known for her passionate relationship with fellow actor Richard Burton, said in her memoir Elizabeth Takes Off, that she had not one but two great loves of her life—one being Burton and the other being her third husband, Mike Todd, who died in a plane crash shortly after they married.
Given that the book was written in the 80s, maybe Taylor had other great loves of her life before she passed away in 2011. I don’t know, but at least she seemed to be aware that a person can have more than a single great love of their life.
Therefore, for those that lament the fact that they have never had a great love of their life or never found the great, mystical “The One” it may be the case that they did only it wasn’t just one person but two, three or more.
Sometimes, only when we liberate ourselves from the idea of a single person can we really find the great love of our life—no matter how many that may include.
Author: Mariyah Martinez
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock