As I’ve gotten older, I’m increasingly weirded out by the notion of a One True Love.
It’s not that I’m one of those people who thinks monogamy is ~unnatural~; I’m the product of a 30-year-long and still going heterosexual marriage. I just don’t think that an approach to relationships that assumes there’s just one person in the whole world you will be linked to forever (preferably in a marriage) until one of you dies is particularly healthy. It’s more or less the basis for goading abuse victims to stay with their abusers. They might be The One! You can’t just walk out on The One!
The flip side of the same belief is that you don’t have to do any work to make your relationship healthy and mutually rewarding , because why bother when you’re destined to be together no matter what? Think of how much media romanticizes the idea of mutually destructive relationships that simply cannot be escaped because fate. There’s also a lot of implied grossness for people who have a series of important, long-term relationships in their lives. Sure, Liz Taylor, you married a couple people, but which one did you really love? Only one romantic relationship can be genuine; everyone else is just filler. That’s a terrible way to look at people, or your own life, for that matter.
A far healthier view, in my view, is that there’s a number of people out there who are varying degrees of awesome for you. You’ll probably date a few until you sort out what you’re really looking for, and find someone who wants more or less the same thing. You might get lucky and meet that person on your first try. You might end up in a relationship that looks nothing like you imagined, but that’s still fulfilling. Most importantly, because you know there’s no larger forces in the universe holding you to this other person, you know the both of you are obliged to work on making it goo. You knowingly choose to be with them above all the other potential partners in the world. And if it’s not good, you feel safe leaving, because those other people are still out there.
It’s not as easy as just imagining that. The notion of the One True Love is deeply internalized, and dictates how we approach all our relationships and view the relationships of others. You have to really analyze your own behavior to figure out how it’s been affected. Deep internalization of the notion of fate keeps us trapped in bad relationships. I felt that way about my abuser, and I knew I wasn’t in love with him. I didn’t even like him that much sometimes, but that socialization creeps in everywhere, telling us to stay passive, fate will take care of it all. I just hoped he wouldn’t live that long.
Fight that thinking.