Recently a good friend brought up the obsession we all have with relationships, essentially trying to find “the one”. Talk about pressure! As much as we have advanced, we are still trying to fit age-old ideas into a modern society. The idea that there is only one special someone to spend your entire life with, only one soul mate for each person, borders on ludicrous to me. I believe everyone deserves authentic love, but I don’t believe that it necessarily happens once in a life time and spans over 50 years. Our divorce rate alone can attest to that. Not only does it happen infrequently, it leaves the rest of us feeling inadequate when it becomes unattainable. When these traditions began, humans only had a lifespan of 30 years. So why do we cling to this dream?
As a feminist, I tend to resist this idea of needing a man. In truth, we need to be kinder to ourselves and accept that vulnerability that comes with admitting we all just want to be loved. Author, Elizabeth Gilbert in her book “Eat Pray love” describes our human condition. She talks about a friend, a psychologist, who was counseling a group of Cambodian refugees. Her friend states “these people had experienced genocide, rape, torture, starvation and murder of their relatives, trying to flee on dangerous boat trips where people died and corpses were fed to sharks, but what did all these people want to talk about?” They would say “I met this guy when I was in the refugee camp, and we fell in love, but then we were separated on different boats, and he took up with my cousin…” With everything they had endured, their central focus was still about finding love.
We have to be more understanding about the power of love and connection. We think that being married will secure that love. Having a goal of finding a loving lasting relationship is quite healthy. It’s the “idea” of happiness dictated by ancient expectations that can be harmful. Over the years I’ve had single friends that dream of love, passion and comfort with someone wonderful to share their life. All too often, they’ve judged each relationship as failed, allowing each to chip away at their hope of finding “the one”.
According to Psychologist Chuck Spezzano “Expectations are limitations; they are also demands. If we have a picture of how it should be, our expectation leads to disappointment and frustration. Our willingness to let go of our expectations opens us to receive.” It’s the “knowing that what is coming is the best thing for us even though we do not know what it is. This attitude allows all good things to come to us, we do not demand, we invite.”
I believe we can still desire a passionate loving relationship with out succumbing to this fixated pressure. Inviting love is always better than demanding it. Even when we do find “the one”, life is so unpredictable. People change, they evolve, they fall in love with others, and everyone dies at some point. Everything in life is temporary. If we learned to embrace that, maybe we would appreciate love when it comes our way instead of judging it, rating it or trying to define it.
Arielle Ford says “If you think that love is what you want, you will go searching for it all over the place. If you think love is what you are, you will go sharing it all over the place.”
So create that passionate love, be open to receiving it, have faith that we all deserve it and that love will find us. In the meantime, we can learn to appreciate all the loving relationships we encounter along the way, even when they have felt too fleeting or don’t meet all of our expectations. I believe each relationship is here to teach us something about ourselves. So instead of limiting love, be boundlessly open to it. Stop searching for “the right one” and instead learn to accept each love as the “right one now”.