We all know the story. One day, we’ll hopefully meet someone who is just exactly right for us. Our soul mates, our life partners. Our be all and end all, in other words. Such a person will intuitively understand us, and being with them will have a sort of natural ease to it. Romantic, isn’t it? Well, not so much.
Here are three reasons I think the myth of “The One” can actually be destructive.
You’re asking for disappointment
As a couples counsellor, I’m one of the first people who would attest to the power of love. But I also think that one of the best things you can do for your relationship and yourself is to be realistic. When you approach your relationships with the expectation of a perfect, blissful union, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
People (including ourselves!) are not perfect. This doesn’t mean we are less deserving of love, though. When inevitable difficulties arise in a partnership, who do you think will handle it more gracefully: the couple who believe that they aren’t supposed to fight ever, or the couple who know they will and have worked on healthy ways to resolve it?
You risk losing your identity
Sadly, the Western conception of romantic love more often resembles an unhealthy obsession than altruism. Believing in the idea of The One elevates a single person, making them and only them responsible for fulfilling your every emotional, physical and relational need. While love is a many splendoured thing, being enmeshed or fused with your partner is not healthy.
Do you catch yourself referring to yourself as “So-and-so’s wife” or use “we” to talk about yourself even when your partner is not present? D you have a full and active life outside of what you and your partner do together? The joy of healthy partnerships is that we can be close and intimate with others while still retaining our own sense of self.
You might not make the effort
I have seen it personally too many times to count. A young couple, believing that love is everything, is bewildered to discover that their relationship is still under threat. The fact is, good partnerships take effort and need to be maintained. Believe in the mythical One and you may be tempted to think that love alone will solve all your problems. Or that if you have problems at all it is proof that you were not meant to be with this person.
Like most things in life, the best relationships are those where both parties have decided to actively work on their connection. Taking one another for granted is the beginning of a bad cycle – don’t assume that just because you love one another that you needn’t be alert and nourish that love each and every day.
Every one of us enters our relationships with a set of expectations and beliefs. It is up to us to examine those carefully so that we can be as present as possible for our partners.
Believing that there is only one, perfectly suitable life partner out there for you is a quaint idea. But be careful: even the most idealistic, love-at-first-sight type couples will need to stop once in a while and check to see that they are on the same page.
No matter how deeply your souls connect, there is always the possibility of miscommunication, and learning to communicate better is a skill we all need to practice. It may not be a very romantic notion, but the most enduring relationships are those that rely not only on love but are realistic, too.
Do you need relationship help?
If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.