I don’t believe in The One. I think the idea that there is only one person you can be with— only one person who can make you happy—is dangerous. Today so many people are caught up in championing their One True Pairing, or praying that their favorite couple is endgame, that we are subconsciously conditioning ourselves to expect only one person to be right for us. By doing this, we are caging ourselves into loneliness instead of opening up to the possibility of happiness. Often by believing in The One, we are putting our happiness into someone else instead of reaching for it within ourselves.
Now, I completely understand why people believe in Soul Mates, Fate, and The One because I used to. When you’re with someone and it’s working, it’s hard not to believe that this is the only person you could be with and that your meeting was destined. I think it’s important to believe in the idea of Fate and Soul Mates—because it keeps hope and determination alive—but not to stay in a relationship only because you think you’re with The One. I stayed in a toxic relationship for two years just because I thought I was with The One. While that’s not necessarily the situation for everybody, that was what taught me that there are more to relationships than “destiny.”
In terms of Soul Mates I don’t believe that they literally exist, but I think “Soul Mates” is an accurate term to describe someone with whom we have a deep connection. I really like how Plato (the Greek philosophy dude) discusses Soul Mates. In his work, The Symposium, Plato proposes that human beings were originally born in a round shape with two faces, four legs, and four arms. Humans then rose up against the gods and to punish them, Zeus cleaved them in half separating them—literally tearing their soul in two. Humans then spent the rest of their lives looking for their missing half, searching for their soul mate. I think it’s important to believe that there are people in the world with whom we will connect so deeply the only way to describe it is that we were separated at birth. But I don’t think it should be a priority to search for these people. Doing so orients our lives around someone else, and keeps us from working on ourselves. Believing in the idea of Soul Mates is important because it livens human connection, but believing that everyone has just one Soul Mate limits possibility.
I don’t believe in Fate—I don’t think our paths are foretold—but I think it’s important to believe in something bigger than ourselves. I used to marvel at the magic of how I met my boyfriend because it would not have happened if one detail in a set of circumstances had been different. I went to a different college my freshman year where I met him, then I transferred my sophomore year, but we kept in touch and started dating my junior year. If I had gone straight to my current college, we wouldn’t have met; if I’d gone to a different high school whose counselor hadn’t recommended my freshman college, we wouldn’t have met; if we’d started dating my freshman year, we may have broken up when I transferred and we wouldn’t be together now. If any one of these, at the time, minor decisions had been altered, my life would be very different now. While I don’t believe in Fate, I think it’s important to acknowledge the magic of timing. Timing can’t be controlled, and embracing this thing that is bigger than we are is just as satisfying as believing in Fate.
My point in discussing why I don’t believe in The One, literal Soul Mates, or literal Fate is to emphasize that I don’t believe in Cultural True Love. I don’t believe in the rom com, meant-to-be, OTP, True Love because that puts focus on someone else instead of on ourselves. Cultural True Love asserts that there is only one person we are destined to be with and if we wait long enough, they’ll stumble into our paths. But this means we’re waiting for someone else to connect to us instead of opening up ourselves so we can connect to them. Cultural True Love ignores all the personal work it takes in order to love someone and sets people up for disappointment when their Soul Mate just doesn’t seem as right for them as Sherlock does for John.
But even though Cultural True Love doesn’t exist, True Love does.
True Love is loving someone else truly. That’s it. When you deeply connect to and deeply trust another person, that’s True Love. It can be with your romantic partner, parents, best friend, or a fictional character, but it has to come from you. Trust Love is found by embracing connection with others as much as you embrace yourself. True Love comes from within, not from without.