Yes, You Can Truly Love Someone Who's Not "The One" — Here's How

Nine women share their stories.

by Candice Jalili
Originally Published: 

Based on what we've seen in movies and read in all of our favorite romance novels, love stories are always supposed to follow a certain narrative. Two people meet each other and have this seemingly instantaneous connection. A spark, if you will. From there, the couple falls totally in love and never once questions whether or not the other person is "the one" for them. But, alas, real life is different from what we see in movies and read in books. Sometimes you know your partner is not “the one,” but you love them anyway. And, unfortunately, there's no movie you can turn to when you want someone to relate to that unique experience.

What do you do when, for one reason or another, you know your partner isn't the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, but by the same token, you still love them and enjoy your relationship as it is? How are you supposed to cope with that? If you find yourself saying “they’re’s not the one but I love them,” luckily a recent Reddit AskWomen thread asked ladies for their advice on the matter and I have their best responses here for you.

If you also find yourself asking “I love him but I know he's not right for me,” or “I love him but he's not the one,” George Kong, founder of dating consultancy byGeorge, would ask you to think about why — to really look at why you’re with this person in the first place. “I would say first examine what gives you that opinion,” he says. “Why don’t you want to marry them? Is marriage something you want? And then what? Do you subconsciously know you’re in an unhealthy relationship, or are you stuck with some unnecessary expectations from your upbringing of who you should be marrying?”

For Kong, the idea of ‘the one’ isn’t really one that holds any water. “Love can come in many forms,” Kong says. “While many people desire and expect a single main love, we have capacity for many loving relationships in our lives. The concept of ‘the one’ forces some kind of a ranking system that’s really unnecessary.” You ultimately have to make a decision about what values are most important to you at that time: if your partner has those values, great! If not, it’s probably time to move on. And it can be painful, but it will ultimately be necessary for moving forward and finding what you do want.

Pinpoint What Makes You So Unsure

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I was in a six-year relationship with someone who was not the one. We lived together and split up just about a month and a bit before our anniversary. We loved each other very very much, and he was my best friend. But it wasn’t a head over heels love, and it never was. We recently decided it wasn’t working anymore, and that neither of us wanted to take it to a more serious level because we both knew it wasn’t the right fit for a life partnership. I’m not sure if I believe you can have a relationship forever with someone who is not the “one” you want to be committed to growing with. I also do not believe that there is only one person out there for any of us, but I do know that if you are settling for this person, it will eventually become problematic. I think it can work as long as you both want it to work (as was the case for my ex and I), but if you have a sense that it is not perfect and not the one, I would be inclined to think that this feeling will not go away. It never went away for me, at least.


Maybe you need to think about what exactly it is that makes you feel like they "Aren't the one". I just left a relationship where I knew that we wouldn't last but I didn't have a specific reason and he was really sweet and nice. I held off for months because I couldn't think of a reason to break up except that I wasn't happy. Eventually I realized that me not being happy was a good enough reason and I didn't need to point to a list of reasons and I didn't even need to dislike him (because I don't dislike him), I just didn't want to date him anymore. Basically what I'm trying to say is keeping things going just because you can't think of a reason to break up isn't always healthy, and sometimes you don't realize what it is about a relationship that you don't like until you're gone.


Forget the fairytale idea of "the one". There's countless people that can make you happy and with who you can have a fantastic relationship. It's all about effort and compatibility.


Every Relationship Teaches You A Lesson

Yes... you have to go by the flow and take it day by day. Enjoy what you have while you have it, you never know what will happen. Maybe that person will leave the next day or you’ll end up getting married. I believe everyone enters your life, or leaves your life for a reason and sometimes that reason is more obvious than others, but you have to take advantage of every opportunity to learn from experiences... that’s why we are all here, right? To learn and grow from each other.


my current bf and i want different things but we are still dating. I enjoy spending time with him and don't see a point in breaking up if it works for us currently.


Put yourself in their shoes, would you want them to stay with you if they believed you weren’t the one for them? I agree relationships take time and work but I wouldn’t want to be with my bf if he didn’t feel like I was the one for him. I would feel like he’s settling for me and that’s not the kind of partner I’d want.


Listen To Your Gut.

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I think it boils down to what you want and what you're willing to risk. I know a lot of couples who know they might be (or certainly would be) happier with someone else, but they don't want to disrupt their life. They're happy enough and realize that the grass on the other side isn't always greener. Is that relationship "lacking"? Perhaps.I think it becomes a problem if you are fundamentally unhappy and feel the majority of your needs aren't met, even if your SO is kind and you love them. Sometimes love for someone isn't enough to stay in a relationship, and that's okay.It seems to me that someone in this position needs to really evaluate the source of their uncertainly. Are you bored, or are you really missing something in your life? Are you staying out of obligation that is poisoning your ability to be happy, or is it just that you aren't in the early days of a relationship when everything is fun?


I guess I find this hard to answer because I don't crave the "head over heels in love" feeling. I actually kind of hate being consumed by it.I love my SO, I totally think he's "the one" and I think we're great for each other. Could it be more dramatic and intense and "head over heels" with someone new? Probably. But I don't want that, I don't even have any desire to find out what it would be like with anyone else.I guess what I'm trying to say is the crazy rush of new love doesn't mean someone is "the one".And if you (long term) crave something different than what you have (which seems to be "nice enough for now") then I think you've got to consider whether you're actually being good to your partner by staying with them. Or are you just wasting their time?But look, I'm 30 and I don't know how old you are. I felt differently in my early 20's when everything was just "nice for now".


My first serious boyfriend wasn't "the one" and I think I always knew that, on some level. It took me too long to fall in love with him, I guess, but I really wanted to...because on paper we were pretty well matched. I'm not saying that I shouldn't have given it a chance, because I'm glad that I did, but perhaps it was my first clue that we weren't going to last. We were together almost two years, but I always felt like we had an expiration date. It was fun and good and I did love him. Just...Eventually, I realized that we were headed for the finish line. Things are SO different now with my current bf. I fell for him almost instantly, and after having been together for more than two years, I'm still very much in love with him. So, I don't know. If your gut is whispering in your ear that someone's not the one...your gut may be right.


Still feeling confused about your relationship? Let me put it like this: As long as you're not staying together out of fear you’ll never find anyone better, you’re fine. Listen to your gut! It knows all.


George Kong, dating consultant at byGeorge

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