A romantic notion that’s ingrained in us by romance movies and Nicholas Sparks novels, we were taught that love is synonymous with butterflies in the tummy, grand romantic gestures, and feeling ‘complete’, all of which only The One can grant us.
It came as no surprise that we devoured it like unsuspecting fishes drawn to the bait.
Heck, we’re the generation that spends our Wednesday nights living it up, downing shots in clubs, all the while maintaining a GPA that’s no less than three. When we’re presented with the idea of Happily Ever After with The One, trust me, we’re hell-bent on fulfilling it.
Most, if not all, of us are so fixated on the idea of The One that our lives revolve around this notion.
I remember the first time I told my dad that I was dating someone. As a naive seventeen-year-old, I described my date to him as someone who is cute, rich, and The One I want to be with forever. Shallow, I know.
As a man who has been married for more than 17 years with three kids, he found my sappy proclamation of love laughable, “enjoy it while it lasts. You should get him to bring you out on a date at a five-star restaurant while you’re at it.”
Back then, I didn’t get why my dad would always scoff at my romantic views toward love. In my mind, I’ve simply labelled him as someone who’s pragmatic.
To him, The One is just a bullshit fairytale that’s fabricated and fed to women to make the lives of men hard. He’s a firm believer that there is no one singular person, soulmate or The One who’s magically made for us. A relationship doesn’t flourish on feelings, it requires hard work and effort to make things work. We ourselves create The One from the partner we choose to enter and stay in a relationship with.
I, on the other hand, believe that there are many The Ones out there for us.
My friend Kayla* serves as a prime example.
An avid consumer of bubblegum love songs and 90s romance films, she had spent her whole life anticipating for The One who will grant her a lifetime of happiness. When she met Dave*, she was convinced that he is the one she’s going to spend the rest of her life with. One fine day, she finally decided to lose her virginity to him. He broke up with her a few days later, claiming that his feelings have faded.
As bystanders of the relationship, we were quick to call him out on his bullshit but she was convinced that she had lost The One.
As a result, her attitude towards love is akin to that of an atheist towards God. She turned to clubbing and one-night stands because to her, since she had lost her one and only shot at true love, why bother anymore?
Fast forward a year and countless swipes later, she’s now in a relationship with a decent guy she met from Tinder who she’s certain is also The One.
For many of us, Kayla’s story is all-too-familiar.
At some point in our life, we would have been so sure that the person we’re dating is The One. So much so that we would apply for a BTO flat with them, no hesitation. However, if things don’t work out, our take on love will be pessimistic until the next The One comes along, and the whole cycle repeats until we settle on someone who eventually becomes our husband.
There is no one specific person who you’ll instantly fall in love with and want to marry.
At 18, we might be attracted to the f-boys who gave us the thrill and excitement of young love that we craved for – “The One we had fun with”.
But at 25, most of us would be looking to settle down, so we’ll search for a partner who is mature and shares the same goals and values as us. They’ll end up being “The One we’ll marry”.
As our phase in life changes, so does our values, beliefs, and interests. Needless to say, our definition of The One will evolve with us as well. There is no pre-made singular The One whose entire existence on this earth is to fall in love with us and complete us. In life, it’s guaranteed that we’ll meet a series of potential partners. It is all up to us to discern who The One is for us right now.
The notion of The One could also just serve as a reminder of the relationship that we deserve.
On the other end of the spectrum however, there are the toxic behaviour that stem from the notion of The One. And it’s imperative for us to tackle such behaviour as well.
Tom Hansen, the title character from (500) Days of Summer, meets a girl named Summer who he believes is The One.
From the get-go, she sets the record straight that she isn’t looking for anything serious and she doesn’t believe in love. Even so, he is still convinced that she is The One and he went on to project all his romantic fantasies onto her instead of getting to know her for who she is.
Some of us could have been Tom in our relationship; so blinded by the whole concept of The One that we are determined that this one person is the only one meant for us.
While the rest of us could have been in Summer’s shoes, no stranger to the toxic and stifling relationship where your partner is obsessed with their idea of you being The One and projecting their unrealistic expectations of love on you.
The film ends with a newly-wedded Summer confiding in Tom her new found belief in soulmates and destiny, how he was right about it, it just wasn’t her that he was right about. A few days later, Tom meets a girl named Autumn (literally) and his eyes light up once more while Mumm-ra’s She’s Got You High plays in the background.
It’s pretty tongue-in-cheek but it echoes my sentiment of how there is a series of The Ones that we will meet in our journey instead of just one predetermined The One.
Despite all these, I do think that it’s completely okay to hold on to the belief that there is someone out there who is meant for you, as long as you’re being realistic about it.
At the end of the day, our trust in the notion of The One is comparable to people’s faith in birthday wishes and four-leaf clovers. Deep down, all of us know that it’s just a tale, but some will still choose to believe in it as it provides a sense of comfort in the bleak and lonely world that we live in, and there’s no wrong in that.
*Names have been changed for privacy purposes.