'One True Love' - an intriguing experiment into the power of films, books and post-break up girl chats. By now we all know 'The One' doesn't exist, at least to no larger extent than, The One You Married, but why do we wish it was true?
I've reached the age where all my friends seem to be getting engaged and married and suddenly it's like the great search is over, The Person has been located. Like they'd been hiding somewhere. Have they met 'The One?
Love is a many faceted thing, thankfully, otherwise we'd all get really bored and Hollywood would have to start making more Harry Potter films. But why do we say the One like it would be a good thing?
Aside from the actual physical science behind it, which is rather akin to the technical abilities Santa Claus would have to possess to complete his annual visit to the bedrooms of children, wanting there to be a One is sort of madness.
Relationships are hard work. All relationships are hard work. They're not hard work all the time, but often, possibly daily, there are things that are not ideal and that you have to work with, that make you a better and more tolerant person. Once you've got to five years with someone you've put genuine effort in and if you make it to the altar what does someone have the cheek to say? 'Oh you're so lucky, you found the One.'
Err, look here sweetheart, the mystical ether of love didn't just drop this person into my life. We didn't meet under a light snowfall and then laugh our way gaily through the next five years. We didn't turn our backs on each other after a nasty fight and go our separate ways because surely the One shouldn't be this unreasonable about the cleanliness of the bathroom. There's nothing lucky about it; it was hard and bloody and there were midnight rows and slamming doors and tears and grumps and farts in bed.
For someone to look at your years of hard work building a functioning and happy life around the needs, wants and desires of two individuals and give the credit to...to the universe, is frankly insulting. It's like telling a woman exhausted after childbirth that the stork must've shown up.
Yes, couples who stick at it are often very happy. Sure one of them has long given up on the other ever taking the bins out and the other has finally accepted that the first takes an unusually long time in the bathroom. Maybe your partner doesn't handle criticism very well, sparks a predictable argument before becoming reasonable and relinquishing their defensiveness...every single time, but you've got a lot of undesirable points too. It's not the absence of difficulty that makes a solid relationship, it's how you deal with the difficulty. It's respect and tolerance and growing up together. Because we're all still growing up, even when we're fifty.
All of the problems I had with the divorce of my parents was based on the premise that they had grown up. As though, like with the concept of the One, people are so finite. So cut and dry. But who's a grown up at 27? Who's a grown up at 47? Who, out of all of us, can point at the future and say I know exactly what that will look like? No one. There is no One. There's just that sometimes annoying but lovably charming person sitting on the sofa next to you slurping their coffee without even being aware of it.
And we should all be happy with that. The universe hasn't handed you a perfect person and you're not destined to be together forever. But every time you pick their pants up off the floor and make them a cup of tea and listen to their diatribe about what so and so said at the office, you're creating a happy place, a happy relationship. You're not settling for someone, you're creating something. Maybe you'll be together in thirty years, maybe you won't, you just can't know because the future is unknowable. But the relationship you do have you worked at, you made, you created. When you look into your partner's eyes on your 40th wedding anniversary, it won't be because they're the One dictated by some magic, it'll be because you damn well earned it.