People who are looking for a relationship often wonder how they’ll know when they’ve found the perfect partner, The One of all the people in the world with whom they’ll have years of bliss. We’ve all seen the movies; we know how it’s supposed to go. You may be dating, even engaged, to a pretty great person, but then The One comes along, and they are so clearly The person you’re supposed to be with…(cue the wedding bells).
But while the idea of finding one perfect person makes for great movies, it just doesn’t tell you anything about real life. In fact, the idea of there being one perfect soulmate for each person is a destructive fantasy.
In the real world, every person has strengths and flaws. Some people will fit better with you than others, but no one is perfect. No one “completes” you–you’re already a full, complete person.
True, there are complements that work well together. I’m grateful that my boyfriend is great at technology because I’m not, and he likes that I’m happy to organize and cook when we have friends over, for instance. But that’s very different from saying we “complete” each other.
The Downside of “The One”
The idea of “The One” or “soulmates” makes dating a black-and-white proposition: either this person is perfect for me, or we should break up. If you’re holding out for perfect, you may be alone for a loooong time.
Being focused on finding a “soulmate” can cause people to be dissatisfied with really great people they love because the lover is lacking in some way. This often kicks in when the initial, head-over-heels phase winds down (as it always does).
At first, you’re so smitten that everything about the person seems wonderful. He/she is just the best! Maybe I’ve found The One! After some months or years, the infatuation eases, and you start to see the person more clearly. He or she does have great features, but also has these annoying and frustrating aspects. If you’re obsessed with finding The One, you may decide this partner isn’t it. You head off into the world, eventually find another The One candidate–only to be disappointed again when it turns out the person is only human.
From Romance to Real Relationship
Really, it’s wise to use the post-infatuation stage to assess. What you’re looking for in a life partner should be someone with whom you have a strong attraction (even though it’ll change and may be intermittent) and with whom, on an objective, analytical level, you could build a life.
Once you’re through the fantasy The One stage, you can think about how well you fit together. Not perfectly, but is it well enough? Is this someone you can trust? someone who treats you well? someone who wants the same things in life you do (kids, or not? high-powered careers or a laid-back lifestyle?)? someone whose annoying habits are more than offset by the good things? If so, he or she is a keeper.
Leave the whole “soulmates” idea to Disney and the rom-coms. Instead, look for a real-life partner who makes you feel loved and with whom you’re a good team–even if she isn’t always a princess or he isn’t always a prince charming.