I like to read, and I read a lot. I read everything from classic books no one actually read in high school to online blogs about everything from sports to education and back again. In recent months I’ve noticed a trend in online dating advice blogs by millennials. The advice is always about finding “the one” or “how to tell that he’s the one to marry.” Not “how to love falling in love.” Not “how love and heartbreak make us better.” Not “how to enjoy every second of your life whether you’re single or taken.” All the dating advice I find is about finding “the one,” as if this person is some mythical being who will give us everything we’ve ever needed in our lives. I believe that kind of love exists. But I don’t think we need to spend our entire young adult lives searching blindly for it; this blind search is distracting us from taking part in life. We’ve become so obsessed with finding “the one” that we don’t realize all the things we’re sacrificing as a result.
As a 20-something, I can understand the pressure to find “the one.” I am currently single, and I understand the desire to feel important and loved and wanted. I’ve had my heart broken, too, and I want to find someone to fall head-over-heels in love with just as much as the next girl does. But I find that in a world of almost infinite connections (in person and online), we are putting an immense amount of pressure on ourselves to find Mr. Perfect at this very moment in time, so we can feel complete, we can post it, and we can show him off to our friends. I find the obsession to be unhealthy and unnecessary.
When did we become so scared of our own shadows? Why are we so terrified to fail? No one wants to fall on her face, especially when her heart is involved. I get it; I’ve done it. It hurts like hell. But how else do we learn? Why are we so terrified of dating people who may or may not end up being “the one”? Why are we putting so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and to find a perfect match right here, right now? Why are we so comfortable advertising who we are online but so uncomfortable advertising who we are one-on-one with another person?
A recent heartbreak made me realize that each person we choose to open up to and share our heart with is an opportunity to love. But maybe more importantly, it is also an opportunity to learn. That person, and that experience, is unique. And experiences are a large part of what make us who we are. How is it even possible to know that someone is “the one” if we haven’t experienced people and places and things that make us know who definitely is not the one?
I believe that finding ‘the one’ can change your life. I am not a hopeless romantic by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know that finding someone to spend the rest of your life with is a big deal and something that should be celebrated. It’s something exciting and scary and it’s worth talking about. But to put all of our emphasis on finding ‘the one’ means we’re sacrificing who we are now for what might be in the future.
If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that experiences change a person. What if I find someone who fits all the criteria of ‘the one’ for me right now, but after a life-changing moment no longer fills all those bubbles? Should I automatically dismiss this person outright because we might not spend the rest of our lives together?
I have a very hard time understanding why we refuse to take a chance on people who make us happy in the moment simply because we may have doubts about the long-term potential. Why are we afraid to be happy in the moment?
I think we’re missing the mark BIG TIME by putting all our efforts into finding the perfect person. We’re losing out on experiences that are vital parts of being human. We’re missing out on falling in and out of love and sharing experiences with different kinds of people who have things to teach us and whom we can teach. We’re missing out on opportunities to be compassionate and caring.
Sometimes throwing caution to the wind and trying something that might be temporary is the best thing we can do. By locking ourselves away in hopes of finding ‘the one,’ we are sacrificing a chance to find something that I know we all want desperately: happiness.