Soulmates. Meant-to-be. True love. Destiny. Fate. FATE. Ever seen a movie with Anne Hathaway or Rachel McAdams or Reese Witherspoon? Do you know the chorus to even one Celine Dion song? Yeah…then you are familiar with the idea of “The One.” The idea that each person on earth has a single other person on earth that they are supposed to end up with, a single other person who is their perfect match. Swoon…
Holy hell is that a dangerous idea. The reality is that there isn’t just one person for everyone. We make decisions about our lives and our partners, and how we follow through (or not) determines the success of those choices. Most people fall in love more than once in their lives. Most people experience a relationship, or two, that doesn’t work out because of circumstance, not because the other person is a terrible match. Thinking that there’s only one person you could ever be with is short-sighted and contrary to what almost everyone experiences as they age.
Hey look! Another entertaining but ultimately completely unrealistic portrayal of love! (image credit)
If the hopeless romantic in you is still dying a little inside, I get it. My 14-year-old self feels sort of bummed that the universe didn’t create a person that is my soulmate. It removes all the tidy certainty–HE is the ONE!–and also makes me less inclined to picture my relationship as being a series of clips of my husband and I feeding each other chocolate-covered strawberries, taking bubble baths together, and lying on blankets under trees, gazing at the sky and its heart-shaped clouds. But this is actually great news: the myth of soulmates means that you have to choose, every day of your life, to love the person you’re with. And that person makes the same choice about you.
Here’s why that’s awesome:
1. More sex. Better sex. If you each know the other can get it across the street at any time, you’re going to put a little more effort into your night moves.
2. Self-maintenance. See above–when nothing is guaranteed, we tend to take more care. We want to be as well-groomed, -coiffed, and -dressed as possible so that we’re giving the best of ourselves to our partner.
Damn, Daniel’s making sure he always looks sharp.
3. Quality time. The longer you’re in a serious relationship, the more you see that doing things together is essential to intimacy and friendship. It may be a drag to go to the musicals your girlfriend loves, but when she cracks up laughing on the way home when you do your best impression of a dancing sailor from H.M.S. Pinafore, you’re reminded of why you’re together. And it’s kinda great.
4. More effort = better relationship. Remember that time you ran a marathon without training for it at all and you felt so much pride and ecstasy when you crossed the finish line even though you didn’t even break a sweat? Yeah, that narrative doesn’t work. Because the stuff you work the hardest for is also the most rewarding. Put the time into making your relationship strong, you’ll cherish it all the more.
5. Second (and third and fourth..) chances. If, sadly, your relationship doesn’t work out, there are so many more possibilities out there. How awful would it feel if we couldn’t make it work with the person we thought was our soulmate? Would we be destined to live alone, eating our frozen dinners in front of the TV, watching Grey’s Anatomy and NCIS reruns? The answer, thankfully, is no.
Eesh. That hurts. But it’s not your last chance for love, my friend. (image credit)
We make our own destiny in this regard. We choose who we want to spend our lives with, and then we work at it a little, every day, to make our connection and commitment to that person as strong and vibrant as possible. It is the most important work, the work of a lifetime. Talk about romantic. Swoon.
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