Believing in ‘The One’ is the No.1 bullshit myth in dire need of being busted. Let’s start with my favourite examples of how self-images can be fucked in childhood while being sugar-coated and tied with a pretty pink ribbon; the Classic Disney Princesses.
*The tone of this article is geared towards women, because as a woman, I always found myself searching for ‘The One’ previously and know that this trait is associated with females. However, this advice also applies to guys.
The Message of The Princesses
What do Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty have in common? Yeah, they’re drop-dead gorgeous and fell hopelessly for the whole love at first sight with Prince Charming deal yadda yadda yadda. What’s more important here though, is that they completely depended on finding a random hot dude to ‘fix’ them and magically make their lives better.
If Prince Charming didn’t have such a foot fetish, then Cinders would be left in a psychologically abusive relationship with three bitchy women who weren’t even related to her. If Prince Phillip didn’t have the urge of a somnophiliac to make out with a sleeping chick, then Aurora would be knocked out for a hundred years with a dragon outside. If Prince Ferdinand (the random dude in Snow White who’s name isn’t even mentioned) didn’t have necrophilia, then Snow White would be poisoned in a fucking coffin.
What message does this give us? That we are fucked if we do not find ‘The One’. ‘The One’ is like that new Chanel bag that the Saudi princess just CANNOT live without, or the new iPhone that we all NEED to have or these new diet pills will instantly make you skinny and you’ll NEVER lose weight without. ‘The One’ is basically another notch on our consumerist belt. It’s a product that we NEED to have in order to fix us like the princesses and make life magically better.
Why is this bad for us? Firstly, because applying a consumerist mentality to ‘acquiring people’ is damaging and secondly, because measuring happiness based on finding ‘The One’ is a shitty value. Let me explain.
‘The One’ as a figment of Consumerism
Consumerist mentality can screw you up. ‘The High Price of Materialism’ found from several studies that men and women who valued financial success much higher than self-acceptance (desires for psychological growth, autonomy and self-esteem), affiliation (desires for a good family life and friendships) and community feeling (desires to make the world a better place through one’s own actions) ultimately had lower levels of psychological well-being and higher levels of depression/anxiety.
Why? Because consumerism is all about looking for a sense of worth outside of oneself and striving hard to get external rewards that convey success and power – in other words, something from outside yourself that will ‘fix’ you and make you look like you have your shit together, rather than actually focusing on sorting your shit out internally. Having a lot of money offers a fleeting high and feels good; this could deter you from sorting out damaged relationships and re-evaluating priorities. These guys were not at all implying that all rich people are dicks; this just happens if financial success is the utmost priority and the other stuff doesn’t matter.
What is ‘The One’ if not a physical embodiment of consumerism? The guy who can just walk into your life and fix everything just by being there and distracting you from evaluating yourself is like a magic wand – something external and non-existent. He’s basically wearing a t-shirt of the American Dream under his James Bond outfit or Superman suit.
Finding ‘The One’ is a shitty value
Let’s take a look at Mark Manson’s categorization of values to measure happiness.
Good values are:
- Socially constructive (benefiting others)
- Immediate and controllable
Bad values are:
- Socially deconstructive
- Not immediate or controllable
In that respect, basing your entire happiness on the value of finding ‘The One’ is a dumb ass plan, because it’s not based on reality, since you have no clue whether or not ‘he’ will appear. It isn’t socially constructive, because the purpose of it is to gloss over your internal issues and make you feel ‘fixed’. Lastly, it isn’t immediate or controllable, because again, you have no fucking clue when or if he’ll pop up. Basically, being a damsel in distress is a stressful and confusing pastime and stems from a shitty value.
Bad stuff that happens from believing in ‘The One’
- Feeling anxious, depressed and/or unattractive, because you think you’re ‘not good enough’ or because nobody ‘good enough’ has made a grand entrance.
- Staying in an abusive relationship, because you believe your partner is ‘The One’, that they alone love you, that everything they do is right and you’re wrong, yet you desperately want the relationship to be healthy. Read more about the complex issue of why women stay with abuse here.
- Getting into a relationship that you’re unsure about, because you want to be comfortable and create some sort of illusion for yourself and others that they’re ‘The One’.
- Getting married when you’re not ready, because your family and society think it’s time you found ‘The One’ and settled down to be a good person and get a mortgage and have 2.5 children.
There Isn’t Just One ‘The One’
See I would love to see Morpheus’ face if I told him that there is no ‘One’ but many ‘Ones’. That if you miss the opportunity to take the red pill, you won’t in fact be stuck with boring blue for all eternity. There are over 7.5 billion people in the world – Are you really telling me that you are never going to find anyone worth your while? “Yeah but, I need to find someone who’s right for me” you reply.
What exactly do you mean by ‘right for me’? Here are some lists of things people think we should want in guys:
- Muscular chest/shoulders
- Toned physique
- Nice hair
- Good butt
- Nice eyes
- Long legs
- A good dick
- Honesty and integrity
- Respect and independence
- Sense of Humour
- The ability to take on my problems as his own and solve them
- Can sparkle like diamonds like the vampires in Twilight
- Has a sex dungeon like in 50 shades
- His shit smells of roses
So list 1 is all physical, list 2 is character traits and list 3 is idealized fantasy that we have spoon-fed to us through fiction. We can add other qualities and compile literally hundreds of lists detailing how we want ‘The One’ to be able to horse ride and cook the best lasagna in town. But stacking up a shit tonne of desirable qualities isn’t going to help you find the right ‘One’. Not because you’re being too fussy and nobody in this planet is that perfect and therefore, you’re doomed to be forever alone. But because you don’t actually need all that stuff to like a person.
These two stories demonstrate this:
The Shrinking Suitcases
I started traveling a year ago (so not that long). I moved to Vietnam from London, having just travelled alone to Amsterdam and Iceland for trips of under one week. I was terrified at the prospect of spending a whole year far away in Asia all by myself and so I filled my suitcase with everything that would come under 30kg. When I got to Hanoi, I filled my apartment with everything I thought I needed, from whole drawers full of Indian masalas to loads of extra packs of washing sponges that I didn’t need that many of. I wanted to feel secure and comfortable.
When I was still anxious 7 months on, I realized that although I was comfortable, I wanted to travel more and to write. So I sold all the extra baggage and left to Bali. In Bali, I realized I didn’t need loads of stuff and I shipped it back home. By the time I got to Malaysia, I had very little that I actually needed in terms of material possessions. But I was actually a lot happier, because I was finding out stuff I did need – a sense of purpose, doing something I found challenging and enjoyable and living in different places. I didn’t need it all, but the things that mattered made me happier.
Texting people with bad grammar
As much as I make a point on how it is absolutely crucial to use good spelling and grammar in tinder messages, it’s also not necessary in some scenarios. My best friend is the cleverest high-fly corporate person I know and as sharp as a scalpel. But she can’t spell for shit sometimes. The Pirate Box of Chocolates (story coming soon, see more date stories here) also has fat texting fingers that account for loads of spelling mistakes. But that is negated by the fact that he’s caring and kind of the same crazy as me. So while good spelling and grammar is a great quality and very good to have when making a first impression, I don’t need it when I know that someone is compatible in more important ways.
What I’m trying to say is, We don’t always need everything. Sometimes we will get along with someone that isn’t 6-foot-tall, or isn’t always texting in the Queen’s English. Sometimes we just need to partially fill the suitcase and enjoy what’s in it. We can like some people for their sense of humour, some for their intellectual curiosity and some for their sense of adventure. We can actually get on with loads of the 7.5 billion people in this world by appreciating what they have, rather than wishing they had it all. There are actually a lot of ‘Ones’.
You are your only knight in shining armour
Relish in the fact that there are so many cool people out there. And then accept the sobering thought that in fact nobody will be able to ‘fix you’ and solve your shit. Before going out and meeting those ‘Ones’ you will have to accept that you are your own knight in shining armour and in fact you yourself are the only ‘One’ for you (or the real slim shady). Otherwise, you’ll just carry on subconsciously looking for an outsider to be a solution to you and as we’ve discussed, that’s an uncontrollable and shitty value.
As the only ‘One’ for yourself, you can solve your own issues and base your values of success on things like ‘making progress in my career’, ‘maintaining good relationships with friends and family’ and ‘finding out why I’m unhappy/frustrated/lonely’. Small steps taken in the right direction by you are so much more than aimlessly waiting for someone and taking no steps. Don’t make the mistake of the Disney Princesses and allowing yourself to be mentally fucked over if the Prince doesn’t come and say “hi”. Stay out of that vulnerable position.
I am not saying to devalue other people completely and not care about them. I am just saying to make your values of happiness depend on things that you actively do and can control, not on an uncontrollable force. When you are in a good place emotionally, you’re more able to see people and appreciate them for what they are, rather than pinning all your hopes on them or trying to sculpt them into a deity.
Enjoy finding ‘The Ones’ as a journey
So how do you find those ‘Ones’? Well it’s simple. Now that your values have been re-prioritized to center around you and we have established and the guy doesn’t have to be the clone of Christian Grey crossed with Ryan Gosling and a vampire, there’s only one thing we need to do. Date. In a way that is fun and not focused on finding someone perfect to fix you. Date to enjoy the experience of meeting new and amazing people. Date to find out what you do and don’t like in people. Date to enjoy the journey, rather than seeing it as an unpleasant route to an idealized destination. Once you have shattered the myth of ‘The One’, you’ll realize that life itself is a journey (OK this is getting too cheesy, I’ll stop now). Find more words of wisdom (cough cough) in the dating advice section here.